Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Rape in Warfare

  • Samantha Brindley
  • Melissa M. McDonald
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_976-1



Sexual aggression committed against women by outgroup men during times of intergroup conflict.


Intergroup conflict is a ubiquitous feature of both modern and tribal human societies. In these conflicts, women are unlikely to be involved as warriors or members of raiding parties and are also less likely to be the deadly targets of warfare. Rather, women are the “resource” for which men are competing and consequently suffer as the victims of sexual aggression at the hands of the attacking group. We review the literature linking rape and warfare and present an evolutionary perspective positing that men’s propensity to engage in warfare serves as the function of increasing reproductive success through various mechanisms, of which the rape and capture of outgroup women is one.

Evolutionary Background

Males and females differ in the minimum level of investment that is required to produce viable offspring...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Melissa M. McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA