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Journal Article


Duntley JD, Shackelford TK. Aggress. Violent Behav. 2008; 13(5): 373-382.


(Copyright © 2008, Elsevier Publishing)






Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection provides a powerful meta-theoretical framework that has the potential to unify and energize research in the social sciences just as it has the biological sciences and the field of psychology. A rapidly growing body of research in the field of evolutionary psychology has documented the importance of evolutionary forces in shaping patterns of human cognition and behavior. The process of natural selection is proposed to have shaped many behaviors that represent crimes in modern societies, such as murder, assault, rape, and theft, to address ancestrally recurrent conflicts between individuals. The cost-inflicting strategies that we recognize as crimes may have been favored by natural selection when they gave individuals an advantage in competition for scarce, reproductively reproductively-relevant resources. An exploration of the contexts of ancestrally recurrent conflicts for these resources and how the process of selection operates to shape adaptive strategies in individuals to best competitors can help to elucidate the nature of cognitive and behavioral adaptations that are hypothesized to produce criminal behaviors. An evolutionary forensic psychology represents the beginning of a revolution of thought and discovery that will bring us closer to the true nature of individuals, societies, morality, crime, and what our laws are capable of doing.


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