Evolutionary explanations for group displays of aggression (sports and warfare)

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AO1 for group display in sports

Explicitly link back all explanations of aggression to the evolutionary approach.

Xenophobia- Xenophobia is the fear of strangers. Having a fear of strangers and acting aggressively towards them may have been favoured by natural selection as it would enable ancestors to avoid attack from those whom they cannot trust, increasing survival. Xenophobia can explain why aggression is shown amongst sports fans such as football fans, because effectively, the opposing team (i.e. a foreign team) are the strangerswhom they cannot trust and therefore leading to xenophboc beheaviour such as aggression towards the 'strangers' as a method of protection.

Terrotiality- Another way to explain aggression in sport comes from the adaptive advantage of being protective over ones territory. If one is protective over their territory they are able to protect valuable resources associated with their land which enhance their survival. This can explain why fans act aggressively towards an opposing away team, as the home team are on their own territory and face an evolutionary compulsion to intimidate the away team, in order to protect home territory. 

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AO2 for group displays in sports.

Xenophobia is supported by research which has established a link between racist behaviour and aggression amongst sports fans, The may racist attitudes, the more aggression, as racism can be seen as a display of xenophobia we can conclude xenophobia leads to aggression. 

Territoriality is supported by lewis et al, who suggested there is a home team advantage as players and fans are more detirmined to win in their own teritory than they are in away teritory, supporting the notion that there is a tendency to protect resources associated with teritory thus this could lead to an increase in aggressive behaviour. 

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AO1 group displays in warfare

Sexual selection In societies where war is common, males are far more likely to escape infanticide than feamles due to their usefullness in battle. this leads to a large number of males and a small numbe of females in a population, therefore increased competition amongst males for female mates. One way in which they do this is by displaying bravery in warfare, which is attractive to females and thus they will be rewarded by access to a female mate and the chance to reproduce. 

Gaining status  Those who displa commitment and bravely for the group in battle are more likely to be respected by other males than those who are reluctant to fight (often viewed as cowardly). Therefore they are more likely to gain strong social bonds with members of the group and share the benefits associated with status. 

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AO2 group displays in Warfare

Sexual selection is suported by research that has revelaed young males who are members of gags have more sexual partners than young males who are not. Therefore supporting more aggressive individiuls increase their chances of mating and hterefore increase reprodutive capacity. 

However it is argued that warefare is not a benefit that would have evolved, as early humans had a nomadic existence rather than a settled one. Therefore there was nothing worth fighting for. Warefare woul have only become an advantage once humans settled, and therefore it is more likely to be as a result of environmental factors than evolution. 

As well as this, these explanations can not explain why there is such a huge amount of cruelty such as torture during wars when the opposition is no lomger a threat. This is thought to be more as a result of psychological factors such as deindiiduation than evolution, thus group displays cannot always be explained by evolution. 


Gnder bias in research, all research focuses on male group displays and therefore we can not generalise the findings to group diusplays of aggression in women. 

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