Psychology Aggression: Adaptive response/Evolutionary Explanation

Aggression as an adaptive response/evolutionary response (including: A01: assumption of theory, status in males and females, sexual infedility and jealousy. A02: Evaluation of the theory. A03: Research that supports the theory and evaluation of the research (Griskevicius).

P.S: A01 - 8 MARKS        A02:12 MARKS         A03: 4 MARKS

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Aggression as an adaptive response/Evo explanations for
A01 ­ Describing theory (9 marks)
The adaptive and functional benefits of aggressive
behaviour must outweigh the possible costs. (Buss & Duntley
· Aggression is used to increase status.
· Jealous aggression is used to reduce likelihood of
sexual infidelity.
· Primary motivator is acquisition of status.
· In the EEA there were several advantages
associated with being aggressive.
· There was a hierarchy of status in the community.
Alpha males were at the top ­ they would have been
the strongest, fittest and the best fighters/hunters.
Aggression would have been useful to them to
maintain their place as an alpha male.
· In the EEA, good hunters acquired resources and
skilled fighters could ward off rivals =
ATTRACTIVE TO FEMALES. These high status
males will be good at aggression in a useful way ­
good at protecting/DEFENSIVE aggression.
· High status males monopolise females, low status
males at risk of not producing offspring. Therefore
low status males engage in high risk aggressive
strategies to compete for status. Success at this
aggression enhances their reproductive success.
· So, low status males show more OVERT aggression.
`Sex for Meat' Hypothesis­ the best hunter-gatherer's (who
were inevitably the most aggressive) were able to provide
meat for the females. Many communities gained sexual
favours in exchange for meat so these individuals would
have been selected for mating. Daly & Wilson
(1985)-studied murders in Detroit in 1972. They found that
the motive behind most of the conflicts was status. Victims
and offenders were unemployed and unmarried young men.
· For females, the costs of aggressive behaviour
exceed the benefits.
· The mothers' presence is more critical to offspring
survival than the father's. (Campbell 2002)
· High status, dominant, aggressive females not
preferred as mates so no adaptive value in overt
· BUT low risk, indirect strategies such as gossiping,
name calling and ostracising to decrease
attractiveness of competing females developed to
reduce risk of physical injury.
Griskevicius et al (2009) gave students scenario of person
of same sex spilling a drink on them at a party and not

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Majority of men would respond with direct
aggression (eg, pushing the other man). Only a quarter of
women would do so, most women most likely to walk away.
And gossip/bitch about them in private.
In the EEA, aggression would have been useful for warding
off competitors for their mates.…read more

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Implies that we do not have a hope of reducing aggression completely as it is an innate, adaptive
Is it useful/what mechanism which was helpful to our ancestors.
are the > Yet, implies that we can control aggression to an extent by targeting vulnerable groups in order to
implications? offer them support/education about aggression. E.g. low status males. LINK: so, theory is fairly
useful to society as can control aggression to an extent.…read more


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