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A mind of her ownThe evolutionary psychology of women$
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Anne Campbell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609543.001.0001

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High stakes and low risks: Women and aggression

High stakes and low risks: Women and aggression

(p.77) Chapter 3 High stakes and low risks: Women and aggression
A mind of her own
Oxford University Press

Aggression is a high-risk strategy for women because infant mortality is more closely connected to a mother’s death rather than a father’s. Evolutionary pressures for women to stay alive and avoid dangerous confrontations could be realized by decreasing women’s anger or increasing their fear. A review of neuropsychological and physiological research clearly shows that the psychological mediation occurred via greater fear in women than men. Women preferentially employ less risky forms of indirect aggression against their rivals. Under extreme duress, females will use aggression in defense of offspring and this is facilitated by the neuropeptide oxytocin which simultaneously enhances bonding and reduces fear—enabling direct attacks against infanticidal males.

Keywords:   aggression, anger, fear, neuropsychology, risk taking, oxytocin

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