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9) Group displays of aggression – War

War is the formation of a group to attack others within the same species.

From an evolutionary point of view, there are two main advantages of war. One is the expansion or defence of territory, therefore more resources. Also those who win a war gain higher status. Both of these points allow the victors to attract more females, and therefore reproduce more.

Pinker looked at how more than 20,000 Muslim girls and women were raped as part of a genocide programme in Bosnia. Pinker said the aim of these acts were to impregnate the women and then raise the children as Serbs, or to terrorise the victims into fleeing the land. This supports the evolutionary explanation because it shows of how war is used (by the Serbs) to increase their territory and to reproduce and pass on genes.

Lehmann and Feldman (2008) said that men who are strong and more aggressive will win wars and survive to pass on their genes; this will lead to an increasingly aggressive species.

They said two traits have evolved in humans that determine the likelihood of conflict:

1)      Belligerence – increases the probability that one group will attack another

2)      Bravery – increases the chance of winning

Groups high in both of these traits will most likely go to war and win, and therefore pass on their genes.

Why choose a mate that will go to war? – Kelly and Dunbar (2001) said women ‘need protection’ so needed to choose their mates carefully. The heroic bravery shown by those who go to war is therefore a characteristic that is seen as attractive by females. Also females may chose brave mates as these courageous genes will be advantageous for the group in the future as their offspring will be more successful in defending the group in the times of need.


A mate who goes to war is more likely to be killed than those who don’t, therefore putting the family at risk. So actually from an evolutionary perspective it could be seen as maladaptive to choose those who go to war


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


One thought on “9) Group displays of aggression – War

  1. I have a mock A2 exam on aggression tomorrow and have missed quite a few lessons, rather than go through all the details in the massive textbook in one day I’ve been able to revise condensed key information from this creation so thank you! Very helpful! ^_^

    Posted by Samantha | May 14, 2013, 7:50 pm

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