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Evolutionary Forensic PsychologyDarwinian Foundations of Crime and Law$
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Joshua Duntley and Todd K. Shackelford

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195325188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325188.001.0001

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The Origins of Homicide

The Origins of Homicide

(p.41) 3 The Origins of Homicide
Evolutionary Forensic Psychology

Joshua D. Duntley

David M. Buss

Oxford University Press

Why people kill their fellow human beings is a question whose answer has thus far eluded a comprehensive scientific explanation. This chapter describes homicide adaptation theory, a recent theoretical contender that offers an evolutionary psychological explanation of the most common forms of homicide. It begins by reviewing some key statistics about homicide. It discusses examples of the unique selection pressures created by human cognitive adaptations for social exchange that are hypothesized to have selected for homicide. It explores the coevolutionary arms race between adaptations for homicide and defenses against being killed. Homicide adaptation theory is compared to nonadaptationist explanations for conspecific killings in humans. Finally, the chapter explores how an evolutionary perspective sheds light on why the law does not treat all forms and contexts of homicide the same.

Keywords:   homicide adaptation theory, human cognitive adaptation, social exchange, selection pressure, coevolutionary arms race, killings, evolutionary theory

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