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NCJ Number: 194540 Find in a Library
Title: Rape and Evolutionary Psychology: A Critique of Thornhill and Palmer's Theory
Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:March-April 2002  Pages:145-168
Author(s): Tony Ward; Richard Siegert
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 24
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents an evaluation of the evolutionary theory of rape.
Abstract: This theory asserts that rape is either directly or indirectly associated with inherited mechanisms that increased ancestors’ reproductive success. An important strength of evolutionary psychology (EP) is that it explains behavior in terms of both ultimate and proximate causes. Ultimate means all the evolutionary factors that contribute to the development of a psychological mechanism or pattern of behavior, such as ancestral environment, sexual selection, and natural selection. Proximate refers to the more recent factors involved, such as the person’s genes, learning, and environmental stimuli. The evolutionary theory of rape argues that rape may have evolved to help males circumvent females’ caution when it comes to selecting a mate. The positive argument involves the development of an explicit case for the coherency, scope, empirical adequacy, and explanatory depth of the evolutionary account of rape. The negative argument relies upon refuting the standard social science model of rape. It is concluded that the evolutionary theory has not been established as a better theory than social science explanations. The theory fails to specify what type of mechanisms directly underpin rape or how rape might be a by-product of other adaptations associated with male sexuality. At best, this argument presents a strong case for the important, but not exclusive, role of biological factors in the etiology of rape and gender relationships. Any evolutionary theory will need supplementing by social or cultural explanations. There are too many unanswered questions concerning the nature of the relevant adaptations and the contribution of sociological and cultural theories to conclude that evolutionary theories are sufficient to explain sexual aggression. 40 references
Main Term(s): Rape causes; Rape research
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Biological influences; Psychological influences on crime; Sex offense causes; Territorial behavior; Violence causes
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