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Science. 1988 Oct 28;242(4878):519-24.

Evolutionary social psychology and family homicide.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Homicide is an extreme manifestation of interpersonal conflict with minimal reporting bias and can thus be used as a conflict "assay." Evolutionary models of social motives predict that genetic relationship will be associated with mitigation of conflict, and various analyses of homicide data support this prediction. Most "family" homicides are spousal homicides, fueled by male sexual proprietariness. In the case of parent-offspring conflict, an evolutionary model predicts variations in the risk of violence as a function of the ages, sexes, and other characteristics of protagonists, and these predictions are upheld in tests with data on infanticides, parricides, and filicides.

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