Outline and evaluate evolutionary explanations of aggression
- (24 marks)
- From an evolutionary perspective, infidelity and sexual jealousy are two major determinants of aggression in humans. Research shows that the majority of aggression in males arises from sexual jealousy as they have an innate need to transfer their genes.
- Men are more likely to experience sexual jealousy due to a fear of cuckoldry. This refers to a woman deceiving her partner into investing in another man’s offspring. In order to combat this issue, mate-retention strategies have evolved as a preventative measure against sexual infidelity, hence minimizing the risk of cuckoldry. Daly and Wilson argue that these strategies enhance the reproductive fitness of a male i.e. surviving and transferring his genes. Mate-retention strategies range from vigilance to violence to prevent infidelity, and can be categorised into direct guarding and violence. Direct guarding refers to a restriction of freedom that makes partners less accessible to other males. It could involve snooping through personal belongings for signs of infidelity or preventing them from interacting with other males. It is important to note, however, that strategies differ depending on culture i.e. female genital mutilation occurs in Africa and Middle Eastern countries. Violence is another mate-retention strategy whereby males use physical violence to deter their partners from infidelity. It can have the unintended consequence of uxoricide.
- Shackleford provided supportive evidence for these strategies. There was a positive correlation between the two types of male mate-retention strategies and violence scores. Due to the fact the data is simply correlational, causality cannot be ascertained.
- Dobash and Dobash (1984) have lended support to this theory. Studies of battered women have found victims cite sexual jealousy as a major contributory factor in violence. Wilson also found evidence of direct guarding as mate retention...