Explanations of group display in humans

Group display- Sports - A01


  • Wilson claims that Xenophobia ( a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners) has been documented in virtually every group of animals displaying higher forms of social organisation
  • Natural selection has appeared to favour these genes that caused human beings to be altrustic ( unselfish concerns for the welfare of others) towards their own group but to be intolerant towards outsiders. 
  • SHAW AND WONG argue that mechanisms that prompt suspicion towards strangers would have been favoured by natural selction 

Xenphobic displays on the terraces

  • PODARLI AND BALESTRI analysed the behaviour of Italian football crowds, finding evidence of xenophobic tendensies. Group displays were characterised by racist chants and openly anti-semitic banners (hating jews) 
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Group display- Sports - A01

Territoriablity threat displays

  • Another explanation for the evolution of group displays in sport is based on territorality.
  • Non human animals show threat displays towards outsiders and attack with greater vigour when defending a home territory - HUNNTINGFORD AND TURNER
  • This is a human equivalent in the displays of sport teams prior to a match e.g. war chants.
  • Aggressive displays would have been adaptive for our ancestors as they allowed groups to defend valuable resources associated with their territory.

Testosterone and territorial behaviour. 

  • Humans display more aggression when they have higher testosterone levels. NEAVE AND WOLFSON found higher testosterone levels amoung footballers when playing at home (an adapation based on the need to defend home territory) 
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Group display- Sports - A02

There is research support for Xenophobia displays... FOLDESI provides evidence to support the link between xenophobia and violent displays amoung Hungarian football crowds. He found that the racist conduct of a core of extremeist supporters led to an increase of spectator's violence in general, and xenophobic outbrusts in particular. Violent incidents based on racist or xenophobic attitudes were observed at all stadia, with gypsies, Jews and Russians were the usual targets

Evidence for territoriality...

LWEIS ET AL found that amoung football fans, crowd support was seen as the most significant factor contributing to a home advantage.Through there displays of support, home fans felt responsible for insipiring their team to victory and distracting the opposition. 

However...The precise way in which the crowd displays have an effect is not clear. Crowd size may not be as important as the effect has been shown to operate even with small crowd sizes (POLLARD AND POLLARD). Likewise it is not clear whether the primary function of crowd displays is to 'psy up' the home team or distracting the opposition.

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Group display- Sports - A02

Does a home advantage really exist?.. A study by MOORES and BRYLINSKY challenges the claims that home crowd displays provide territorial advantage for sports teams. Two Basketball teams were forced to play home games without spectators because of a meales epidemic, achieved higher points totals without spectators than they did when playing in front of their home crowd

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Warfare - A01

War is undoubtedly dangerous and costly, therefore it is difficult to why an organism, selected to survive, should engage in behaviours associated with such extremes of personal cost and danger. An evolutionary explanation, therefore, would lead us to expect that any behaviour associated with warefare would have evolved because of the adaptive benefits for the individual and the offspring.


Sexual selection... In societies that experience frequent warefare, males are far more likely to escape infanticide ( the killing of babies under 1 year by their society) than females because of their potential usefulness in battle.  As a result there are very few women in society compared to men and so men have to compete for mates. With those who do well in battle being rewarded by access to female mates. (Divale and Harris) 

Displays of aggressiveness and bravery are attractive to females. For example, ( CHAGON) male warriors in traditional societies tend to have more sexual partners and more children suggesting a direct reproductive benefit. 

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Warfare- A01

Acquisition of status within the group... Displays of verocity and aggressiveness by individual warriors would also lead peers to respect them more and so strengthen the bond between them and other males in the group. Because cooperation between males is so important to an individuals status in the group, fleeing fom battle would make an individual appear a 'coward' thus loosing the respect of the peers.

COSTLY DISPLAYS SIGNAL COMMITMENT - Signals of commitment... IRONS claims that costliness of permanent displays such as scars and mutilation means that they serve as honest signals of commitment to the group. By engaging in such displays, individuals demonstrate their commitment and loyalty to the group and so can benefit from profits of warfare against another group

Minimising the likelihood of defection... During battle each individual has an incentive to keep himself out of harms way, which exposes others to injury/death. Therefore in gruop were war is frequent, displays such as permanent scars of piercings, would be important for the survival of the group. This is because such permanent displays minimise the ability of males to abscond (hurriedly leave) to another group and increase their commitment to their original group.

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Warfare- A02

Sexual selection - Research has provided support for the importance of aggressive displays in determining the sexual attractiveness of male warriors. PALMER AND TILLEY found that male youth street gang members have more sexual partners than oridinary young males. LEUNISSEN and VAN VUGT also found that military men have greater sex appeal but only if they have been observed showing bravery in combat.

War is not 'in the genes' - War emerged when humans shifted from a NOMADIC existence to a SETTLED one and were tied to agriculture or fishing sites. Because of this, people could no longer walk away from trouble and had far more to lose, and FIGHT OVER with than their hunter-gather forebears. This suggests that warfare, and the aggression displays associted with warfare, are not biological complusions but are concequences of environmental changes such as rising populations and dwindling food supplies.  

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A03 - Gender Bias

S: Evolutionary Explanations for warfare may demostrate a gender bias as they do not adequatley reflect the behaviour of women in this process.

E: ADAMS claimed the idea of the woman warroir is almost unheard of within most societies. Those that do partake in war have much less to gain than men from fighting in near-death situations and considerably less more to lose e.g. reproductive capacity. This is fundamental to women's exclusion from warfare, as women simply do not increase their fitness nearly as much as men do.

E: Our understanding of the displays typically found in warfare, therefore, is limited to the behaviour of males rather than females and so cannot be generalised to female which reduces the validity of the approach

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A03 - Behavioural approach - SLT

S: The Evolutionary approach ignores the behavioural approach, as it suggests that group displays of aggression are only due to selected adapted repsonses from our ansectors. 

E: However the evolutionary approach is ignoring the Social Learning Thoery. As Bandura and Walters claimed we learn behaviours such as aggression through others, then imitate the behaviour. This can be seen in the Bobo Doll stuides where children did aquire aggressive repsonses as a result of watching others.

E: Therefore this is problematic because its suggests the environment and learning may play a part that the evolutionary approach cannot account for.

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