Tag Archives: aggression

Barbara Smuts

Although an evolutionary analysis assumes that male aggression against women reflects selection pressures operating during our species’ evolutionary history, it in no way implies that male domination of women is genetically determined, or that frequent male aggression toward women is an immutable feature of human nature. In some societies male aggressive coercion of women is very rare, and even in societies with frequent male aggression toward women, some men do not show these behaviors. Thus, the challenge is to identify the situational factors that predispose members of a particular society toward or away from the use of sexual aggression. [A]n evolutionary frame- work can be very useful in this regard.

Barbara Smuts, ‘Male Aggression Against Women. An Evolutionary Perspective’, Human Nature, vol. 3, no. 1 (March, 1992), pp. 2-3

Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending

Farmers don’t benefit from competition between their domesticated animals or plants. In fact, reduced competition between individual members of domesticated species is the secret of some big gains in farm productivity, such as the dwarf strains of wheat and rice that made up the “Green Revolution.” Since the elites were in a very real sense raising peasants, just as peasants raised cows, there must have been a tendency for them to cull individuals who were more aggressive than average, which over time would have changed the frequencies of those alleles that induced such aggression. This would have been particularly likely in strong, long-lived states, because situation in which rebels often won might well have favored aggressive personalities. This meant some people were taming others, but with reasonable amounts of gene flow between classes, populations as a whole should have become tamer.

Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, New York, 2009, pp. 111-112