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Evolutionary Explanations Of Aggression Psychology A2

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Introduction

´╗┐Evolutionary explanations of aggression. The concept of evolution is undoubtedly a scientific one, combining many areas of science in the explanation of the success of all species. From an evolutionary approach, aggression is primarily considered to be an adaptive behaviour driven by internal, biological factors. These factors may be related to concepts such as Darwin?s survival of the fittest, where aggression is an innate trait that is deemed critically necessary. In this regard, there are links to the biological approach which also places strong emphasis on explaining human behaviour through genetic make-up, whist evolutionary arguments focus on the importance of passing on genes through biological inheritance to ensure the continuation of a species. So, with evolutionary approaches supporting the nature viewpoint in the debate of nature versus nurture, the study of ethology may provide some relevance. Alongside, fear, hunger and the need for reproduction, Lorenz considers that aggression is critical to ensure selection of the best mates for reproduction, to guarantee survival of the young and to distribute a species in a balanced way. Here aggression is defined as the intent to harm and must occur within the same species. Whilst it is simple to discount ethology as ungeneralisable to human behaviour, there appear to be plausible comparisons. Notably, animals often avoid actual aggression, as this risks injury (which would affect the ability to hunt, protect and defend) ...read more.

Middle

This could include aggressive or violent behaviour. According to Cascardi and Vivian (1995), when asking participants to explain aggression, jealousy is the most commonly attributed cause. To support this, Canary et al (1998) argue that couples with relationship problems commonly reported that anger and jealousy was contributed to aggression. Whilst it could be considered that jealously and anger are socially learnt emotions (supporting the nurture viewpoint of the nature v nurture debate) equally they can be directly associated to evolutionary perspectives such as parental uncertainty. Brunk et al (1996) suggest that for the male infidelity brings both intense sexual jealousy and uncertainty of paternity. However for the female who becomes pregnant after an act of infidelity, the associated sexual jealousy is influenced by the lack of time, support and economic resources that are given to her offspring by her mate. For both males and females, infidelity can be adaptive. For a male, additional sexual partners increase reproductive success. For a female, mating with another male with better genes than her current mate can lead to an improvement to the quality of her offspring. Most significantly, males appear to be more aggressive when presented with the threat of paternity uncertainty, particularly as fertilisation in humans is internal. In terms of reproductive success, infidelity is more threatening to a male than a female (whose offspring will definitely carry her genes). ...read more.

Conclusion

From a deterministic viewpoint it could be argued that these results underline that even in modern times males are much more pre-disposed to aggression, regardless of social influence that may have nurtured non-aggressive responses. By way of conclusion it is important to note the complexity of understanding human behaviour and its many influences. When considering a widespread behaviour such as aggression, in many areas of human existence there appears to be no direct need for this behaviour. In other words, in many areas of the world there is no need to still hunt or defend territory as there would have historically been. However, from an evolutionary approach (supported strongly be the biological approach), it is clear that mankind is clearly unable to exist without aggression and violence, suggesting strong support for the nature perspective. Here, evolutionary psychologists conclude that the adaptive and functional benefits of aggressive behaviour must outweigh the possible costs (Buss and Duntley, 2006). Equally, this approach can be criticised for failing to acknowledge the powerful effects of social influence. Social-psychological approaches place entire emphasis on aggression being a learnt behaviour (such as through social learning theory) or through adapting in social situations (as explained by deindividuation theory). Therefore, a less biologically reductionist approach would have to explain behaviour with the notion that humans (and particularly males) may be more pre-disposed to aggression, yet our social context is critical in determine whether that pre-disposition translates into actual, physical aggression. ...read more.

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