Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It's evolution: Nature of prejudice, aggression different for men and women

Date:
January 24, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Prejudice against people from groups different than their own is linked to aggression for men and fear for women, suggests new research.

Prejudice against people from groups different than their own is linked to aggression for men and fear for women, suggests new research led by Michigan State University scholars.

Related Articles


The researchers report that, throughout history, men have been the primary aggressors against different groups as well as the primary victims of group-based aggression and discrimination.

"There is evidence going back thousands of years of bands of men getting together and attacking other bands of men, eliminating them and keeping the women as the spoils of war," said Carlos David Navarrete, evolutionary psychologist at MSU.

As modern examples, Navarrete noted the wars in Central Africa and the Balkans that were marred by rape and genocide.

Navarrete co-authored the study with MSU researcher Melissa McDonald and Mark Van Vugt of the University of Amsterdam and the University of Oxford. The research appears in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, a London-based research journal.

The researchers analyzed current academic literature on war and conflict and found that the standard social science theory did not explain the sex differences in aggressive or discriminatory behavior between groups. They offered a novel theory that integrates psychology with ecology and evolutionary biology. Their "male warrior hypothesis" explains how a deep evolutionary history of group conflict may have provided the backdrop for natural selection to shape the social psychologies and behaviors of men and women in fundamentally distinct ways.

Essentially, men are more likely to start wars and to defend their own group, sometimes in very risky and self-sacrificial ways. Attacking other groups represents an opportunity to offset these costs by gaining access to mates, territory, resources and increased status.

The authors complement these findings with results from lab experiments showing that men are more prejudiced toward other groups.

Women, meanwhile, live under the threat of sexual coercion by foreign aggressors, and are apt to display a "tend-and-befriend response" toward members of their own group, while maintaining a fear of strangers in order to protect themselves and their offspring.

"Although these sex-specific responses may have been adaptive in ancestral times," said McDonald, the lead author of the study, "they have likely lost this adaptive value in our modern society, and now act only to needlessly perpetuate discrimination and conflict among groups.

Navarrete added that the behavior is seen in humans' closest relative, the chimpanzee. "Just like humans, they'll attack and kill the males of other groups. They'll also attack females -- not to the point of killing them, but more to get them to join their group," he said.

Since the behaviors are common among both humans and chimps, they are likely to have existed in our common ancestor millions of years ago, Navarrete said.

"This would have provided eons of time for the deepest workings of our minds to have been fundamentally shaped by these cruel realities," he said. "Coming to grips with this history and how it still affects us in modern times may be an important step into improving the problems caused by our darker predispositions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. M. McDonald, C. D. Navarrete, M. Van Vugt. Evolution and the psychology of intergroup conflict: the male warrior hypothesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; 367 (1589): 670 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0301

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "It's evolution: Nature of prejudice, aggression different for men and women." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124113053.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, January 24). It's evolution: Nature of prejudice, aggression different for men and women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124113053.htm
Michigan State University. "It's evolution: Nature of prejudice, aggression different for men and women." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124113053.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins