Assailing the Competition: Sexual Selection, Proximate Mating Motives, and Aggressive Behavior in Men

Sarah E. Ainsworth*, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Throughout history, men have tended to be more violent than women. Evolutionary theories suggest that this sex difference derives in part from their historically greater need to compete with other men over access to potential mates. In the current research, men and women (Experiment 1) or men only (Experiments 2 and 3) underwent a mating motive prime or control prime, and then performed a task designed to measure aggression toward a same-sex partner. The mating prime increased aggression among men, but not women (Experiment 1). Furthermore, mating-related increases in aggression were directed only toward men who were depicted as viable intrasexual rivals, including a dominant (vs. non-dominant) male partner (Experiment 2) and a man who was depicted as single (versus married) and looking for a mate (Experiment 3). This research provides a picture of male intrasexual aggression as highly selective and aimed strategically at asserting one’s dominance over sexual rivals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1648-1658
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume40
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 24 2014

Keywords

  • aggression
  • evolutionary psychology
  • mating
  • motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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