Lorentz Center - Aggression and Peacemaking in an Evolutionary Context from 18 Oct 2010 through 22 Oct 2010
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    Aggression and Peacemaking in an Evolutionary Context
    from 18 Oct 2010 through 22 Oct 2010





Sexual selection as an explanation of men’s violence

John Archer

The principle of sexual selection, as first outlined by Darwin and elaborated more recently, is outlined. General features of sexually-selected males are presented, and research on humans considered in relation to these. Men engage in more risky forms of aggression than women. Consideration of societies without an effective rule of law, and warfare, leads to larger sex differences being identified. There may be specific adaptations for male inter-group aggression. These sex differences originate early in life, although the peak of violent acts is in young adulthood. Other features indicate the operation of sexual selection in humans: (1) greater male than female mortality; (2) longer male than female maturation; (3) larger size, strength and musculature; (4) male ritualized display characteristics, such as beards, deep voices and facial features associated with threat (brow ridges and chin size); (5) higher variance in reproductive success in men than women.



Peacemaking in humans: an ethological perspective

Marina Butovskaya


In this presentation I would like to demonstrate that peacemaking is natural human behavior and was formed in the process of evolution along with aggression. This phenomenon will be analyzed in the light of the four basic questions (Tinbergen, 1963): causation, ontogeny, phylogeny and function. The natural mechanisms of peacemaking in human became the object of regular studies in mid-90th (Butovskaya, Kozintsev, 1999; Verbeek, 1999) and since that a substantial pool of cross-cultural data were accumulated. Primatologists were the first to demonstrate that peacemaking is necessary for complex group living (deWaal, 1989) and since then, the post-conflict reunion (reconciliation) was described for more than 20 primate species, including humans. Children since early age bear the innate propensity to make peace and overcome conflicts with peers. In the process of ontogeny they practice the rough-and-tumble play in order to solve conflicts in playful manner and learn how to avoid the violence in direction of group members (relatives and friends in the first rate). With the development of social-cognitive abilities the increase of reconciliation by the initiative of aggressor had been observed (Butovskaya, 2001; Butovskaya, Kozintsev, 1999). Conflicts cause the emotional stress in participants, elevating the level of stress hormones. Post conflict reunion acts as a powerful tool for stress reduction in non-human primates and humans (Aureli, 1997; Butovskaya, 2008). Because aggression between any two group members cause a threat for group stability, various third –party strategies of conflict management  evolved in humans: third party intervention, mediation, consolation, organization of post-conflict reunion. Peacemaking is universal and present in all human cultures (Fry, 2007), but the way it is expressed (Fry, 2000), and it’s intensity vary depending of types of social organization. In this presentation children and adolescence from two traditional African cultures (Hadza and Datoga of Tanzania) are compared to demonstrate this statement. This study was supported by grants from Ministry of Education and Science N.16.740.11.0172; RFBR, N.10-06-00010-а, and RFHR N. 08-01-00015а, and COSTECH for permission to do field work in Tanzania.



Cooperation and Conflict in Native Eastern North America

David H. Dye


Violence and peacemaking coevolved in the temperate forests of Native eastern North America over some 13,500 years. Skilled at feuding and warfare, these cultures designed complex rituals and political, religious, and social behaviors to ameliorate conflicts, promote cooperation, and reduce aggression. From the Pleistocene foragers who initially entered North America to the complex chiefly polities of the Midwest and South, the capacity for aggression and violence was tempered with the development of elaborate peacemaking institutions.



Cooperation, Conflict, and Niche Construction in Human and Other Primates

Agustín Fuentes


Understanding the evolution of aggression and peacemaking in humans is extremely complex.  I propose that this endeavor is best approached using an integrative framework where basic neodarwinian perspectives are combined with emerging proposals in evolutionary theory, such as niche construction. If we see niche construction as a core evolutionary process then the role of social/symbolic and ecological inheritance and Intra- and intergroup interactions and relationships with local ecologies come to the forefront in our models and proposals for evolutionary trajectories and processes.  This suggests that we need to look more closely at cooperative and conflictual relationships in the hominins, and their context relative to the other primates, in order to better understand the emergence and success of the genus Homo.  This presentation will review emerging perspectives in evolutionary theory, highlight some potential pitfalls in the quest to understand and model human evolution, and propose a model trajectory of niche construction, cooperation and conflict in human evolution. 



Primate Behavioral Plasticity: The Role of Ontogeny in Shaping Temperament Differences and Responses to Conflict

Katherine C. MacKinnon, Ph.D.


Behavioral plasticity during a prolonged period of growth and development is a hallmark of our taxonomic Order, and young primates employ a range of responses to social situations. Nonhuman primates living in social groups have an intricate and fluid web of relationships to remember, each with its own history of positive and negative feedback systems, possible kinship and familiarity factors, and myriad other differential contexts for both agonistic and affiliative interactions. Using data from my own studies on wild capuchin monkeys (genus Cebus), as well as summarizing data sets from the current literature, I will discuss the possible role of variable individual temperaments and behavioral plasticity as evolved mechanisms that benefit young primates as they traverse the lengthy developmental landscape. Throughout, I will argue for a more holistic and integrated understanding of social complexity in primate evolution.