Discuss Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression

Topics: Violence, Aggression, Dopamine Pages: 5 (1834 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Discuss evolutionary explanations of human aggression

One evolutionary explanation of human aggression is sexual jealousy. Infidelity triggers sexual jealousy which is an evolved adaptive response to infidelity. Men have developed many strategies from vigilance to violence to stop their partner committing adultery. Men never know for certain that the baby is theirs and could be investing in another man’s baby. In a questionnaire, if women reported that their partner did not like them talking to other men, they were twice as likely to report violence from their male partner. 72% needed hospital treatment. Studies on battered women have shown that extreme jealousy of their partner as the main cause. Under this explanation Uroxide is an unintended consequence of the evolutionary adaptation designed to control, not kill. Support for the explanations comes from a study in the USA involving 461 men and 560 women that were all in committed heterosexual relationships. Men were asked about their use of mate retention techniques and how often they used 26 different types of violent acts, women were asked similar questions. From the male responses negative mate retention techniques were positively correlated with violence scores. Results for women were similar. The idea that uroxide was unintentional was challenged by Shakelford. He analysed half a million homicides and picked 13670 where men killed women and discovered that younger women were more at risk, which undermines Daly and Wilson’s idea that uroxide was unintentional. A strength of the research is this area is its practical applications. Particular use of mate retention techniques can be an early indicator of violence towards partner, alerting family, friends and partner to possible danger. You can sort the problem out before violence occurs. A second evolutionary explanation of human aggression is the evolution of homicide. One cause of aggression could be a lack of resources. Daly and Wilson carried out a study in Brazil and found that approximately 40% of victims and killers were men that were unemployed and around 70% of male victims and killers were not married. So, the inability to attract a long term partner and a lack of resources appears to lead to social competition and therefore aggression. A second cause of aggression could be status. In the EEA, we used to live in small groups and status was very important. A loss of status could have had catastrophic results on reproductive potential and resources. Although this is not the case now, the gene may still exist, so there has been a genome lag which is causing aggression in humans. A third cause could be sexual jealousy. A summary of 8 studies that involved love triangles showed that 92% of homicides were male – male and only 8% were female – female.

A weakness of this explanation is that it cannot explain why people respond differently when face with the same situation. In Shakleford’s study, 3 men were faced by their wives infidelity and one resulted in beating their wife up, one husband got drunk and one husband killed their wife. For any evolutionary explanation, a limitation is that it cannot be falsified because you cannot go back to the EEA and see if the behaviour has really evolved, so you cannot prove or disprove an evolutionary explanation of human aggression. A limitation of those explanations are that they are both reductionist and deterministic. Assuming the aggression is simply caused by your genetic make up or because its adaptive to be aggressive is too simple. It ignores other factors such as culture which has shown to cause aggression as a result of socialisation e.g. the Simba tribal people.

Discuss the role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression. (24 marks) Testosterone is a hormone produced in the male testes and in female ovaries however males produce 10 times more than females. Testosterone has been linked to aggression and as it plays a part in increased muscle and...
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