Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Male Adaptations that Facilitate Success in War

  • Hannes Rusch
  • Mark van Vugt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_950-1



The male warrior hypothesis claims that the sex-specific adaptive pressures exerted by recurrent lethal intergroup conflicts in our ancestral past favored the evolution of a cognitive machinery enabling men to form and maintain aggressive coalitions with other males to the end of dominating and exploiting out-groups.


War is a gruesome phenomenon. Throughout (pre)history, humans engaging in this brutish activity have brought death, suffering, and destruction to an incalculable amount of their conspecifics. And although some scholars’ estimates indicate that the relative impact of wars on human survival and living conditions has been on the decline during the last couple of centuries (Pinker 2011), wars still continue to exert their devastating force today.

From an evolutionary perspective, wars pose a nontrivial puzzle. Why is it that humans are obviously ready and willing to put their...


Social Dominance Orientation Collective Action Problem Cognitive Adaptation Intergroup Conflict Adaptive Challenge 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philipps University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Melissa McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA