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Journal Article


Ellis L. Aggress. Violent Behav. 1998; 3(1): 61-110.


(Copyright © 1998, Elsevier Publishing)






In this article, photographic evidence is presented that humans are not alone in the commission of crime, except in the rather trivial sense that crimes can only be committed by "adult" humans living in societies where written criminal statutes exist. Accompanying this evidence are descriptions of six recently proposed evolutionary theories of violent criminality and persistent antisocial behavior (e.g., chronic deceit and cruelty toward others). These theories venture far from Cesare Lombroso's famous 19th century proposal regarding criminal atavism that has been used to amuse introductory students of criminology for years. Two categories of evolutionary theories are described. The first category pertain to specific crimes: rape (or sexual assault), spousal (and romantic triangle) assault/murder; and child abuse and neglect. The second category of theories target criminal and antisocial behavior more broadly. These are the cheater (or cad) theory, the r/K selection theory, and the coincidental status striving theory. All six theories have in common the assumption that just as in other social animals, natural selection has acted on human populations over numerous generations in ways that frequently give a reproductive advantage to individuals who victimize others under certain conditions. While these theories are still too new to have been empirically scrutinized in all respects, the available evidence is sufficiently supportive to warrant their being given further research attention. Several hypotheses derived from the six theories are identified for future exploration.


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