Sex Roles

, Volume 66, Issue 5–6, pp 311–327 | Cite as

The Evolution of Stalking

  • Joshua D. Duntley
  • David M. BussEmail author
Original Article


We propose that stalking tactics have been shaped by evolutionary processes to help solve mating problems. These include: (1) acquiring new mates, (2) guarding existing mates to prevent defection, (3) fending off mate poachers, (4) poaching someone else’s mate, (5) interfering with intrasexual competitors, (6) reacquiring ex-mates, (7) sexual exploitation and predation, and (8) guarding kin from sexual exploitation. We hypothesize several, gender-differentiated design features of psychological adaptations, including sensitivity to adaptive problems for which stalking was an ancestral solution and cognitive biases that function to motivate and perpetuate stalking behaviors. Although often abhorrent, cost-inflicting, and illegal, stalking sometimes enables successful adaptive solutions to problems of mating and within-gender competition faced by both men and women.


Stalking Mating Gender Evolution 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Criminal Justice & PsychologyThe Richard Stockton College of New JerseyPomonaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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