PSYA3 - Aggression - Evolutionary Explanations

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The evolutionary approach suggests the behaviour we display now must have increased chances of survival and passing on genes in human history.

Adaptive behaviour = gave our ancestors an advantage in their fight for survival

Lorenz (1966)

Distinguished between interspecific aggression (towards a different species) and intraspecific aggression (towards a member of your own species). He argued that reasons for intraspecific aggression included:

  • It ensures only the fittest & strongest survive - females will choose to mate with those who win rutting contests, so the most aggressive have the best chance of passing on genes.
  • Offspring are better protected if parents are aggressive.
  • Protects resources such as food and mates. Animals fight for what is theirs - encourages animals to find own territory, so the species spreads out.

Nelson (1974) argued that Lorenz needs to take into account other approaches to aggression because it fails to explain things like observational learning.


Is believed to be a genetic rather than learned behaviour - ensures exclusivity in our mates.

A man can never be sure of his…


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