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Ancestral Landscapes in Human EvolutionCulture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing$
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Darcia Narvaez, Kristin Valentino, Agustin Fuentes, James J. McKenna, and Peter Gray

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199964253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964253.001.0001

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Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, Rough-and-Tumble Play, and the Selection of Restraint in Human Aggression

Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, Rough-and-Tumble Play, and the Selection of Restraint in Human Aggression

Chapter:
(p.169) 7 Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, Rough-and-Tumble Play, and the Selection of Restraint in Human Aggression
Source:
Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution
Author(s):

Douglas P. Fry

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964253.003.0012

The thesis of this chapter is that natural selection has favored the restrained use of aggression in humans. Intraspecific killing has been selected against. Although obviously homicides occur, they can be viewed as the exception, not the rule. In support of this thesis, the first observation is that aggression within numerous other species reflects restraint and nonlethal patterns, thus showing that curtailed or limited aggression has been favored by natural selection in many different contexts. Second, a careful examination of aggression within nomadic forager societies--the social context that most closely approximates the conditions under which humans evolved—supports the thesis about the restrained nature of most human aggression. When killings do occur, the motives are very personal, not collective. Nomadic forager societies are not warlike. The chapter also considers the possible role of rough-and-tumble play (R&T) in learning restrained patterns of aggression during the course of development. Research on animals and human children suggests that R&T may be important in the learning of social skills such as how to assess an opponent’s strength, how to signal submission, or how to keep from sustaining serious injuries during a fight.

Keywords:   nomadic hunter-gatherers, aggression, environment of evolutionary adaptedness, rough-and-tumble play, prosocial behavior

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