In evolutionary terms an instinct for violence against others helped early men improve their status and gain more access to mates, but in modern terms this can translate into large-scale wars. In contrast women are naturally equipped with a “tend and befriend” attitude which means they seek to resolve conflicts peacefully in order to protect their children, researchers said.
The study, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is a review of evolutionary evidence for the so-called “male warrior hypothesis”.It claims that in every culture throughout history, men have been more likely than women to use violence when confronted by people they saw as outsiders.
Although men’s hostile responses most likely evolved to combat the threat from outsiders, they “might not be functional in modern times and are often counterproductive,” experts said.Over time this has resulted in full-scale wars between countries and empires, and also in scraps and skirmishes between rival groups of football supporters and urban gangs.
Prof Mark van Vugt, who led the study, said: “A solution to conflict, which is an all too common problem in societies today, remains elusive. One reason for this might be the difficulty we have in changing our mindset, which has evolved over thousands of years.”Our review of the academic literature suggests that the human mind is shaped in a way that tends to perpetuate conflict with ‘outsiders’.”
Prof van Vugt said the research established that conflict with other groups of men presented our ancestors with opportunities to improve their status and gain more access to territory and potential mates. He added: “We see similar behaviour in chimpanzees. For example, the males continuously monitor the borders of their territory.”If a female from another group comes along, she may be persuaded to emigrate to his group. When a male strays too far, however, he is likely to be brutally beaten and possibly killed.”
–From Male sex drive ‘to blame for world’s conflicts’ published in the Telegraph of London
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