Jealousy & Infidelity

HideShow resource information

AO1- Evolutionary Explanations of AB

  • The evolutionary approach to aggression suggests that the main aim of all behaviour is to maximise reproductive success; (RS) how many genes you pass on to the next generation.
  • So, the human behaviour of aggression can be explained in terms of its adaptive value in the EEA. (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptiveness)
  • There are two main factors that can explain why AB may have evolved in males as an adaptive response.
    • Increased Status: AB may have evolved as a method of obtaining higher status, which is more likely to be seen as attractive by females, therefore increasing RS.
    • Paternal Uncertainty: Females have evolved to carry offspring during gestation so are always 100% certain that the they are genetically related to their child. Males however are never 100% certain the offspring is theirs, so may use their aggression as a way to control the female, reduces chances of infedelity and therefore increase PC. This then prevents the males resources from being wasted bringing up a child that isnt theirs. 
  • We can therefore predict that increased male AB has evolved as a result of male sexual jealousy in response to suspected female infedelity. 
1 of 7

AO2 - Research Evidence

  • Daly & Wilson (1985b):  Noted thatin 58 of 214 murder cases (in Detroit) the underlying motive was sexual jealousy between males contesting over a female partner
  • Similarly, in a study by Chimbos (1978) the prominent motive found was sexual jealousy after the study of 25 spousal murders. 47% of the men interviewed reported that ttheir arguments had foucused on sexual refusal and/or extra-marital affairs.
    • This evidence clearly suggests that male aggression was caused by sexual jealousy and behaviour which threatened the males RS. 
2 of 7

AO2 - IDA - Culture

  • However, although these studies support the theory, evolutionary explanations can only be valid if aggression is found after being observed cross-culturally. If culture does have an influence on AB, the it discounts evolution as a valid, universal explanation. 
3 of 7

AO2 - Research evidence regarding Culture

  • Research from Chagnon (1983)  that studied the Yanomamo people found the majority of violence towards partyners was triggered by sexual jealousy. This evidence is supported by Buss (2001) who after carrying out two extensive cross cultural studies found that in many African cultures, the most reported reason of murder was extreme sexual jealousy (such as infedelity) and in the Belgian Congo a study of 275 murders showed that male sexual jealousy was not mentioned in only 20 of the cases.
    • This cross cultural evidence increases confidence in the evolutionary explanation of aggression as a more universal explanation as it shows that a link between sexual jealousy and aggression is not just found in western society. 
4 of 7

AO2 - Mate Retention Theory

  • Put forward by Daly & Wilson (1988), Mate Retention Theory is the idea that aggression evolved as a male strategy to deter their female partners from either leaving them or committing adultery (with another man). These strategies can range from vigilance (male guarding) to extreme cases of violence.
  • A study by Shackleford (2005) found that males that are more likely to use mate retention strategies in a relationship are also more likely to use aggression in these relationships. 
    • This suggests a positive correlation between mate retention and AB, and consequently supports the idea that any threats to PC (suspected infidelity) may be a cause of male aggression.
      • But, this study only shows a relationship between mate retention and infidelity and aggression, no causal evidence is provided for the theory and so the support that this study can provide is reduced.
5 of 7

AO2 - Evolved Homicide Theory

  • Suggested by Buss & Duntley (1995), Evolved Homicide Theory states that murdering a mate could be adaptive for a number of reasons. 
    • The status of a cheated man is restored
    • It would damage a rival's RS if the woman is carrying his child.
    • Would also prevent any resources being needlessly invested in a relationship.
  • In Buss & Shackleford's (2003) study, women were more likely to be murdered in the context of a lovers triangle, if they are younger and if they have greater reproductive value.
      • The validity of these findings could be questioned however, the length of the marriage could have been an influence (e.g shorter for younger women), a shorter marriage may cause more intense conflicts about infidelity.
6 of 7

AO2 - IDA - Gender Bias

  • A glaring issue in Evolutionary Explanations of Aggression is that they ignore aggression in females. For males, the risks involved in aggression are outweighed by the potential gain of resources, status, and access to fertile females. 
  • However, for males the costs of aggression exceeds the benefits.
  • The Mothers presence is more critical to the survival of their offspring than the Fathers.
  • Aswell as this, dominant females with high status are not preferred as mates as they have no adaptive value. The womans main aim is to secure a valuable mate who will support both her and her offspring, although she may be in competition with other females she is still concerned with her own mortality. This reason led to the development of low-risk and indirect strategies in disputes and conflict between females.
  • Research by Simon & Baxter (1989) suggests men exhibit more physical aggression than females, who tend to overtake males in their usage of indirect aggression.
  • Similarly, Griskevicious (2009) found that females are more likely to use indirect aggression than males, and courtship scenarios make males less likely to use direct aggression. 
  • Taking all of this into account, we must question how much we can use evolutionary theory as a universal approach for explaining aggression.
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »