Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression Essay Plan

Here's an essay plan on the subject of evolutionary explanations of human aggression. Use it if you want, I chose these studies/explanations as they had the most information to write about. When writing essays in psych remember about breadth and dept, 200 words approx for AO1 and 400 approx for AO2/3.

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  • Created on: 23-01-10 15:09
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Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression Essay Plan
1. Describe mate retention and violence- Buss- lots of different strategies have been
developed to keep a mate, including "direct guarding" of the female, and "negative
inducements" that would prevent her from straying. Modern example "vigilance" Wilson
found that women who agreed with questionnaire items such as "he is jealous and doesn't
want to you to talk to other men" were twice as likely to have experienced serious violence
from their partners, 72% requiring medical attention due to an assault from their male
partner. Dobash and Dobash studies of battered women have shown that in the majority of
cased women cite extreme jealously on the part of their husbands or boyfriends as the key
2. Describe the evolution of homicide- lack of resources- Detroit USA, 43% of the male victims
and 41% of the male perpetrators were men unemployed even though only 11% of the men
in Detroit were unemployed that year- Wilson and Daly. Therefore, this appears to lead to an
increased social competition and male-male homicides. Sexual jealously- key motivator- Daly
and Wilson- summary of 8 studies of same-sex killings involving "love triangles" found that
92% were male-male homicides and only 8% were female-female homicides.
3. Critical Point 1: There is lots of evidence to support the view that mate retention techniques
cause aggression. Shackelford used a survey method, found men used intersexual negative
inducements and emotional manipulation, as a specific mate tactic seemed to consistently
predict men's violence against women, and the results from female participants confirmed
this trend. However, there is one key methodological flaw to this research, surveys are part
of a self-report technique therefore their answers might be a true reflection due to a social
desirability bias. As a result of this, they tend to over report desirable behaviour and
under-report undesirable behaviour. Overall, though there have been many studies that
have found a positive correlation between the two variables. Therefore, this explanation is
proved useful.
4. Critical Point 2: Nevertheless, there is a positive of carrying out this research. This is that the
particular tactics of mate retention used by males can be an early indicator of violence
against a female partner. Therefore, the results from these studies can potentially be used
to alert friends and family members to the danger signs. So help can be offered before the
violence starts happening.
5. Critical Point 3: Homicide doesn't have much adaptive value. Duntley and Buss say that once
anti-homicide defences begin to evolve, homicide becomes a far more costly strategy to
pursue. As a result of this, the evidence is supported that homicide is a extreme form of
aggression, but not an adaptive response to dealing with the problem in question.
6. Critical Point 4: However, individual differences are a key factor in this research. Buss and
Shackelford suggest that, at the moment, an evolutionary explanation cannot account for
why three men confronted with a wife's infidelity will result in a beating in one case, a
homicide in the second case, and getting drunk in the third case. As well, why some cultures,
the Yanomamo of South America, seem to require male violence to attain status, unlike in
other cultures, !Kung San of the Kalahari, aggression leads to irreparable reputational

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Therefore, this explanation has universal flaws as we cannot generalise how all
humans will react in the same situation.…read more


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