Evolutionary explanations of human aggression

  • Evolutionary explanations of human aggression:
  • AO1:
  • Men use aggressive mate retention strategies to avoid cuckoldry:
  • Men face the threat of cuckoldry (having the raise offspring that isnt theirs) - it is a waste of his resources because it contributes to survival of a rival's genes and leaves the 'father' with fewwer resources to invest in his own future offspring. Men in our evolutionary past who could avoid cuckoldry were more reproductively successful - so psychologucal mechanisms have evolved to increase anti-cuckoldry behaviours in men (sexual jealously felt more strongly by men than women). This drives the often aggressive mate retention strategies men use to keep their partners and prevvent them from 'straying' - these were adaptive in our evolutionary history. 
  • Mate retention strategies include direct guarding and negative inducements:
  • Wilson and Daly identify 2 major mate retention strategies involving aggression:
  • 1) Direct guarding: a man's vigilance over a partner's behaviour (checking who they're speaking to)
  • 2) Negative inducements: threats of consequences (i'll kill myself if you leave me)
  • Mate retention strategies linked to physical violence:
  • Wilson et al found that women who reported mate retention strategies in partners were twice as likely to suffer physical violence at their hands - 73% of these women required medical attention abd 53% said they feared for their lives. 
  • Men who used guarding (eg. monitoring a partner's movements) or negative inducements (threats to kill) were more likely to use pshycial violence against their partners - these retention behaviours reliably prediced husband's use of aggression against their wives. 
  • Bullying may be an adaptive form of aggression:
  • Bullying is a power imbalance in which a stronger individual uses aggression repeatedly against a weaker person. Researchers have traditionally viewed bullying as maladaptive behavuiour (due to poor social skills or childhood abuse) - but evolutionary ancestors may have used it as an adaptive


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