Discuss evolutionary explanations of human aggression Essays

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Discuss evolutionary explanations of human aggression (8marks + 16 marks)

Aggression is a behaviour directed towards another intended to harm or injure. Evolutionary theories of aggression explain that aggression is an adaptive response in terms of the individual’s survival and pro-creation, which creates a drive within a person to be aggressive. Men develop strategies to keep women away from infidelity. This includes, mate retention, cuckoldry, sexual jealousy and uxorocide. Men usually put these strategies into place due to lack of evidence that a child is theirs. Women on the other hand are more concerned with emotional infidelity.

Mate retention includes direct guarding and negative inducements. Direct guarding is where the man restricts his partner’s sexual autonomy, which is also known vigilance, an example of this is a male coming home early from work to see what his wife is doing. Negative inducements include threats of infidelity; it has been shown that sexual jealousy is the number one cause of violence against women. Shackelford et al (2005) used a survey to test evolutionary psychology predictions concerning mate retention strategies. Male participants answered questions about their use of male retention techniques and were assessed on how often they performed each of the 26 types of violent act against their partners. Female participants answered questions related to their partners’ use of male retention techniques and the degree to which their partners used violence against them. Men’s use of intersexual negative inducements and direct guarding was positively correlated with their violence score. The results from the female participants confirmed this, with reports of direct guarding and intersexual negative inducements being positively correlated with their experience of male and intersexual-directed violence. Age and relationship duration made no difference to the reported trends. However Shackelford et el’ survey fails to mention why mate retention was caused in the first place, therefore we have little knowledge of the cause and effect. The survey may also include social desirability and does not take genetic factors into account, which say aggression is inherited.

Social desirability does not play a role in cuckoldry and sexual jealousy studies. Cuckoldry is when a man is financially providing for a child that he is not sure is his, this can lead to him providing for an offspring that is not his. To lower cuckoldry risk, sexual jealousy is used as an adaptive function. Wilson et al (1995) found that women who agreed that their partner was jealous were twice as likely to experience serious violent attacks from their partner. 72% of these needed medical attention after the attack. However Wilson’s study does not examine the cause