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Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression
Point 1 Jealousy (Cuckoldry and Sexual Jealousy)
Evolutionary explanation suggests that reproductive challenges, within our ancestors, have led to
sex differences including the reactions based from aggressive behaviour.
One form of aggression, which differs amongst sexes, is the act of jealousy.
Sexual jealousy is based male's real or suspected assumptions of their partner's infidelity.
The reason for male jealousy is due to cuckoldry and the threat of paternal uncertainty the male
partner can never be sure if the child is theirs or not, and if they are wasting their valuable
resources on rearing someone else's child.
Men are always at a risk of cuckoldry, and this leads to the adaptive function of sexual jealousy.
Sexual jealousy would be seen as a mechanism to deter a woman from being adulterous,
Buss and Shackelford men who suspected their wives were being unfaithful, over the next
year, gave greater punishment then men who did not suspect infidelity.
This supports evolutionary explanation of aggression, as it suggests that male jealousy stems
from the fear of infidelity and therefore, cuckoldry.
Therefore, the study shows that sexual jealousy, and aggression, is an adaptive function to deter
a mate from infidelity, thus decreasing the risk of wasting resources.
Value of empirical evidence.
However, the majority of studies are solely focused on males, and therefore, the explanations of
sexual jealousy may not be applicable to women.
Felson women were twice more likely to murder their partners than men, out of infidelity
This suggests that women also engage in adaptive behaviour in order to keep a mate, and also
can behave violently towards their partners.
Therefore this shows that jealousy, as an evolutionary aspect, is crucial to explanting aggression
in both genders as is a result of trying to deter a mate from infidelity and rude the risk of
Point 2 Jealousy (Mate Retention and Violence)
The evolutionary explanation of human aggression proposes that males have a number of
strategies that have evolved specifically for the propose of keeping a mate.
These include restricting their partner's autonomy (direct guarding) and negative inducements in
the form of violence to prevent her from straying.
These strategies are adaptive as they reduce the risk of paternal uncertainty and therefore
enhance survival as it reduces the risk of raising a child that isn't theirs and wasting resources.
Dobash and Dobash found support for the claim that males are more aggressive and violent
due to the suspicion of infidelity, as in the majority of battered women studied; their partners had
extreme jealousy and direct violence towards them as a threat.
Thus supporting mate retention, as male partners used violence to control them, thus preventing
them from being unfaithful.
Shackelford male P's were asked if, and if so, which violent acts they performed on their
partners and the women were asked to what degree violence was used.
Found a clear relationship between mate retention strategies, sexual jealousy and violence.
Supports the evolutionary explanation as it shows that mate retention strategies are an adaptive
function of keeping a mate and deterring them from sexual infidelity thus enabling them to
reproduce more effectively.
However, there are methodological issues with the survey method used to test the violent acts
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The use of this self report technique is unreliable as the answers may not be necessarily truthful
as a result of social desirability bias.
This suggests that either male or female partners may not have admitted to being involved in
violent behaviour, as it could be seen as undesirable.
Point 3 Infidelity (Sexual Coercion)
Another evolutionary explanation of human aggression is infidelity.
Even a suspicion of adulterous behaviour can lead to aggressive behaviour.…read more