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Adaptive Function of Aggression


Coercion; Hostility


The psychological mechanisms that govern aggression – a violent or hostile action toward another – may have evolved as solutions to a number of recurring adaptive problems faced by our ancestors.


From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, the origin of aggression cannot be explained by one exclusive hypothesis. Instead, aggression might be an evolved solution to several adaptive problems (Buss and Shackelford 1997). Resource protection and acquisition, intrasexual rivals, status negotiations, and partner sexual infidelity all stand out as possible adaptive problems that gave rise to aggression as a solution.

Resource Control

Aggressive behavior, from an adaptive point of view, is beneficial if it improves the probability of survival and reproduction. Victims of physical attacks risk death, injury, harm to mates and offspring, loss of resources, and status. Aggression against attacking enemies would be an adaptive solution to...

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Correspondence to Kevin Bennett .

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Bennett, K. (2017). Adaptive Function of Aggression. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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