Discuss evolutionary explanations of group displays of aggression essay

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Evolutionary theory states that humans act more aggressive in a group than if they were alone. It suggests that it is an evolutionary advantage because our ancestors found it useful for survival or reproductive success. Hence why a similar situation today would trigger the same response as our ancestors. For example, warfare is costly and dangerous to us so any behaviour must have evolved to benefit the individual and offspring.

A benefit of showing aggression in warfare is it increases the likelihood of being sexually selected, since displays of bravery are considered attractive and success in battle allows for more access to females (Divale and Harris). Support for this is put forward by Changnon who states that male warriors in traditional societies have more sexual partners and more children suggesting a reproductive benefit. This ensures that they’re genes are passed on to future generations, but also means the group increases in size and it is likely that they’re offspring shares the same values. Warranting the future existence of the group.  Bravery also allows for peer acceptance, whereas a coward results in loss of status and peer rejection. However bravery is distinct from aggression, so it is possible that it is this that is causing the appeal and not the aggression itself.

Le Blanc and Register puts forward a different theory; whereby war was thought to have emerged as humans changed from a nomadic lifestyle to a settled one. Therefore there was more to defend and it was no longer possible to move on from any trouble. This proposes that aggression is a rational response to change in lifestyle rather than an adaption. Therefore they are not biologically compulsive to it, but occurs due to environmental change. The argument fits into the nature/nurture debate, is aggression due to nature and genes or is due to environmental changes? It might be a mixture of the two, whereby the…


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