Advertisement

Human Nature

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 59–70 | Cite as

Life History in a Postconflict Society

Violent Intergroup Conflict Facilitates Fast Life-History Strategy
  • Janko MeđedovićEmail author
Article

Abstract

Previous theoretical accounts have predicted that warfare and intergroup conflict are environmental factors that contribute to the emergence of a fast life-history strategy. However, this assumption has never been directly empirically tested. We examined youth who grew up in a territory that experienced violent intergroup conflict and compared them with a control group (N = 215) on various life-history measures: age of first sexual intercourse, mating behavior, desired timing of marriage and first reproduction and desired number of children. We also measured other characteristics (family dysfunction and economic poverty) to explore the congruence between them and exposure to conflict. Participants from the postconflict society showed indications of faster life-history strategy: greater mating effort, a tendency to marry and have their first child sooner, and a larger desired number of children. Furthermore, interactions between exposure to conflict and participants’ sex were found: females from a postconflict society want to have their child earlier, and males have elevated short-term mating success. Finally, the exposure to violent conflict turned out to have congruent effects with economic poverty but not troublesome family relations. The findings are in accordance with life-history theory and show the adaptiveness of human behavior related to fitness optimization in hostile and dangerous environments.

Keywords

Life-history strategy Violent conflict Harsh environment Fitness optimization 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The work on this article was financed by the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technical Development in the project #47011 (Criminality in Serbia: Phenomenology, Risks and Possibilities of Social Prevention).

References

  1. Belsky, J. (2008). War, trauma and children’s development: Observations from a modern evolutionary perspective. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 260–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Belsky, J. (2012). The development of human reproductive strategies: Progress and prospects. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 310–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Belsky, J., Steinberg, L., & Draper, P. (1991). Childhood experience, interpersonal development, and reproductive strategy: An evolutionary theory of socialization. Child Development, 62, 647–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bielby, J., Mace, G. M., Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P., Cardillo, M., Gittleman, J. L., Jones, K. E., Orme, C. D. L., & Purvis, A. (2007). The fast-slow continuum in mammalian life history: An empirical reevaluation. American Naturalist, 169, 748–757.Google Scholar
  5. Biro, P. A., & Stamps, J. A. (2008). Are animal personality traits linked to life-history productivity? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, 361–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chisholm, J. S., Quinlivan, J. A., Petersen, R. W., & Coall, D. A. (2005). Early stress predicts age at menarche and first birth, adult attachment, and expected lifespan. Human Nature, 16, 233–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Copping, L. T., & Campbell, A. (2015). The environment and life history strategies: Neighborhood and individual-level models. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 182–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Copping, L. T., Campbell, A., Muncer, S., & Richardson, G. B. (2017). The psychometric evaluation of human life histories: A reply to Figueredo, Cabeza de Baca, Black, Garcia, Fernandes, Wolf, and Woodley (2015). Evolutionary Psychology, 15, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., Schermerhorn, A. C., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2011). Longitudinal pathways between political violence and child adjustment: The role of emotional security about the community in Northern Ireland. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 213–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis, J., & Werre, D. (2008). A longitudinal study of the effects of uncertainty on reproductive behaviors. Human Nature, 19, 426–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Del Giudice, M. (2009). Sex, attachment, and the development of reproductive strategies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunkel, C. S., Mathes, E. W., Kesselring, S. N., Decker, M. L., & Kelts, D. J. (2015). Parenting influence on the development of life history strategy. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 374–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ellis, B. J., Figueredo, A. J., Brumbach, B. H., & Schlomer, G. L. (2009). Fundamental dimensions of environmental risk. Human Nature, 20, 204–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Figueredo, A. J., Vásquez, G., Brumbach, B. H., Sefcek, J. A., Kirsner, B. R., & Jacobs, W. J. (2005). The K-factor: Individual differences in life history strategy. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 1349–1360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gagnon, A., Smith, K. R., Tremblay, M., Vézina, H., Paré, P. P., & Desjardins, B. (2009). Is there a trade-off between fertility and longevity? A comparative study of women from three large historical databases accounting for mortality selection. American Journal of Human Biology, 21, 533–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geary, D. C. (2002). Sexual selection and human life history. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 30, 41–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gillespie, D. O., Russell, A. F., & Lummaa, V. (2008). When fecundity does not equal fitness: Evidence of an offspring quantity versus quality trade-off in pre-industrial humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 275, 713–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Giosan, C. (2006). High-K strategy scale: A measure of the high-K independent criterion of fitness. Evolutionary Psychology, 4(1), 394–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Griskevicius, V., Delton, A. W., Robertson, T. E., & Tybur, J. M. (2011). Environmental contingency in life history strategies: The influence of mortality and socioeconomic status on reproductive timing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 241–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gruijters, S. L., & Fleuren, B. P. (2018). Measuring the unmeasurable: The psychometrics of life history strategy. Human Nature, 29, 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hardt, J., & Rutter, M. (2004). Validity of adult retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences: Review of the evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 260–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Iqbal, Z. (2006). Health and human security: The public health impact of violent conflict. International Studies Quarterly, 50, 631–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Knežević, G. (2003). Koreni amoralnosti [The roots of amorality]. Beograd: Institut za kriminološka i sociološka istraživanja, Institut za psihologiju.Google Scholar
  24. Kogan, S. M., Cho, J., Simons, L. G., Allen, K. A., Beach, S. R., Simons, R. L., & Gibbons, F. X. (2015). Pubertal timing and sexual risk behaviors among rural African American male youth: Testing a model based on life history theory. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 609–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lawson, D. W., & Mace, R. (2011). Parental investment and the optimization of human family size. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 366, 333–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luttbeg, B., & Sih, A. (2010). Risk, resources and state-dependent adaptive behavioural syndromes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 365, 3977–3990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Međedović, J. (2018). What can human personality psychology learn from behavioral ecology? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 132, 382–394.  https://doi.org/10.1037/com0000120.
  28. Meij, J. J., Van Bodegom, D., Ziem, J. B., Amankwa, J., Polderman, A. M., Kirkwood, T. B. L., et al. (2009). Quality–quantity trade-off of human offspring under adverse environmental conditions. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22, 1014–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nettle, D. (2011). Flexibility in reproductive timing in human females: Integrating ultimate and proximate explanations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 366, 357–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Penev, G. (1995). Cohort fertility of Serb and ethnic Albanian women in FR Yugoslavia. Stanovnistvo, 33(1–4), 5–19.Google Scholar
  31. Penke, L. (2013). Revised sociosexual orientation inventory. In T. D. Fisher, C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures (3rd ed., pp. 622–625). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Pesonen, A. K., Räikkönen, K., Heinonen, K., Kajantie, E., Forsén, T., & Eriksson, J. G. (2008). Reproductive traits following a parent–child separation trauma during childhood: A natural experiment during World War II. American Journal of Human Biology, 20, 345–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pianka, E. R. (1970). On r-and K-selection. The American Naturalist, 104(940), 592–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quinlan, R. J. (2007). Human parental effort and environmental risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 274, 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Reuben, A., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Belsky, D. W., Harrington, H., Schroeder, F., et al. (2016). Lest we forget: Comparing retrospective and prospective assessments of adverse childhood experiences in the prediction of adult health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 1103–1112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rickard, I. J., Frankenhuis, W. E., & Nettle, D. (2014). Why are childhood family factors associated with timing of maturation? A role for internal prediction. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roff, D. A. (2002). Life history evolution. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  38. Sheppard, P., Pearce, M. S., & Sear, R. (2016). How does childhood socioeconomic hardship affect reproductive strategy? Pathways of development. American Journal of Human Biology, 28, 356–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Slone, M., & Shechner, T. (2009). Psychiatric consequences for Israeli adolescents of protracted political violence: 1998–2004. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 280–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stewart-Williams, S., & Thomas, A. G. (2013). The ape that thought it was a peacock: Does evolutionary psychology exaggerate human sex differences? Psychological Inquiry, 24(3), 137–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  42. Webster, G. D., Graber, J. A., Gesselman, A. N., Crosier, B. S., & Schember, T. O. (2014). A life history theory of father absence and menarche: A meta-analysis. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(2), 273–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Criminological and Sociological ResearchBelgradeSerbia

Personalised recommendations