Outline and Evaluate Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression Including infideliWatch
Onestrength of the Evolutionary explanation for human aggression is the empiricalsupport behind its assumption on sexual jealousy. For example, Shackelford etal (2005) used a survey method to ask 461 men and 560 women who were all incommitted heterosexual relationships in the US about their use and experienceof mate retention strategies. Males were assessed on how often they used 26different types of violence towards their partners and females were asked howoften their partner used these violent acts against them. They found that maleuse of intersexual negative inducement and direct guarding both positivelycorrelated with violence against them.This suggests that these findings are caused by an evolved sexualjealousy due to the threat of infidelity to prevent the female from strayingand minimize the risk of cuckoldry.Therefore, the evolutionary explanation of aggression is arguablycredible because these findings are in line with its assumptions. However, one issue with Shackleford et als’ (2005)study is that it lacks internal validity.This is because themethod they used to collect their data on male and female retention strategieswas based on a survey. This is an issue because self-report methods are proneto the problem of social desirability especially when they involve sensitiveareas such as violence towards a partner. Therefore this outlines andevaluates evolutionary explanations of human aggression including infidelityand jealousy .Consequently,the findings and internal validity of Shackelford’s study is brought intoquestion because they may not have truly been measuring the relationshipbetween sexual jealousy and mate retention. In turn, this reduces the supportit gives for sexual jealousy as an evolutionary explanation of human aggressionwhich reduces the explanations credibility overall.
Anissue with evolutionary explanations for group displays in human aggression isthat it is deterministic.This is because it suggests our genes and howwe have evolved specify exactly how men act aggressively towards their partnersand are predisposed to aggression through jealousy. This also brings to thelight the question of who is responsible for acts of aggression borne out ofsexual jelousy? For example, in Thailand in (2002) a former university lecturer received a 2 yearsuspended sentence after he attacked his wife in a fit of jealousy. If there issuch a strong evolutionary basis for aggression this has important implicationsfor the justice system.
Furthermore, this explanation does not takeinto account ‘choice’ and the individuals ‘free will’ they have over theiraggressive behavior. Not all males act aggressively towards their partnerswhich would suggest that it is not an evolved mechanism to keep their partnersclose, because if it was, then all males would be acting this way. The factthat they don’t shows that males exercise their ‘free will’ over this behavior.Therefore, the explanatory powers of theevolutionary explanation of human aggression is reduced because the free willand choice that individuals have made over time and continue to make has notbeen considered.
Nevertheless,there is empirical support for the evolutionary explanation of humanaggression, in particular, the link between male sexual jealousy and aggressiontowards partners. For example, Takahshi et al (2006) showed that the neuralresponse to images of sexual infidelity and emotional jealousy (e.g. theirpartner falling in love) was different for men and women. They did this byusing brain scanning technology to find that men showed greater arousal of theamygdala and the hypothalamus (which are the areas of the brain associated withaggression) when shown images of their mates sexual infidelity. This shows thatmales have an evolved aggressive biological response to sexual infidelity. Consequently,this gives support to the evolutionary explanation of human aggression becauseof the empirical support showing the link between male sexual jealousy andaggression which is in line with its assumptions.
Anotheraspect of the evolutionary explanation for human aggression is sexualinfidelity; this is also linked to mate violence. Daly et al (1982) suggestedthat detection or suspicion of infidelity is a key predictor of partnerviolence. A BBC survey found that although more men admit to affairs, one inten women also admit to being unfaithful meaning they are at risk of partnerviolence. Gostz et al (2008) said that a consequence of sexual infidelity issexual coercion or partner rape. This was supported by Camilleri (2004) whofound that sexual assault on partners was directly linked with the risk of herinfidelity. Shields and Hanneke (1983) also found that female victims ofpartner rape were more likely to have reported engaging on an affair than womenwho has not been partner raped. One of the consequences for women of infidelityis pregnancy. For the man, this means he runs the risk of cuckoldry andlowering his reproductive successes. This means that when a woman becomespregnant with another man’s child, the function of violence may be used toterminate the pregnancy and eliminate potential rival offspring.
Another consequence of sexual infidelity forfemales is uxorocide (wife killing). This is because men guard themselves frominfidelity either by conferring benefits or inflicting costs such as violence. According to Daly & Wilson (1998) thedeath of a partner by physical violence could be an unintended outcome of anevolutionary adaptation designed for control not death. All of the consequencesof sexual infidelity shows that males have evolved aggression strategies tocope with a partner being unfaithful, which in turn explains human aggression.One strength of the evolutionary explanationfor human aggression is that research has supported the belief that the male islikely to become violent towards his partner if he suspects that she ispregnant with another man’s baby. Thiswas shown by Burch & Gallup (2004) who found that the frequency of violentacts toward pregnant mates was roughly double that directed towards partnerswho were not pregnant, with sexual jealousy characterising those men whoomitted violence against their pregnant partners. Furthermore, Tailliey &Brownridge (2010) found that women abused whilst pregnant were more likely tobe carrying the child of a man other than her current mate. This shows that violence towards pregnantwomen has evolved to potentially end the pregnancy and reduce the man’s risk ofcuckoldry. Thereforethis outlines evolutionary explanations of human aggression includinginfidelity and jealousy
One issue with the evolutionary explanationfor human aggression caused by sexual jealousy is that it is consideredreductionist.This is because it reducesthe complex nature of human aggression down to mate retention strategies andsexual jealousy to stop a female partner straying and being unfaithful.. Althoughthis makes the explanation simple to understand and allows further research tobe conducted, it nevertheless, is an issue that the theory doesn’t consider theindividual as a whole and by doing so it ignores many key factors that couldalso contribute to partner aggression. For example, it doesn’t consider theeffects of hormone such as testosterone that can cause aggression.Additionally, it doesn’t consider how individuals may have imitated their samesex role model growing up as argued by Social Learning Theory because they werevicariously rewarded for acting aggressively i.e. learning by witnessingdomestic violence between your parents as a child and seeing your dad happybecause of the power exerted over the individuals Mum . This means that groupdisplays of aggression may not be an adaptive response but instead a learntresponse. Consequently, the evolutionary explanation for human aggression canbe said to be inadequate as it does not give a full explanation as to why malesare aggressive towards their partner. Therefore, a more holistic approachshould be considered that encompasses a wider field of explanations.
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