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This post was edited by SMITHI at 2012-1-24 17:42|
Male sex drive 'to blame for world's conflicts'The male sex drive is to blame for most of the world's conflicts from football hooliganism to religious disputes and even world wars, according to scientists Men are programmed to be aggressive towards anyone they view as an outsider Photo: REX FEATURES
By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent
23 Jan 2012
The "male warrior" instinct means that men are programmed to be aggressive towards anyone they view as an outsider, a study claims.
In evolutionary terms an instinct for violence against others helped early men improve their status and gain more access to mates, but in modern terms this can translate into large-scale wars.
In contrast women are naturally equipped with a "tend and befriend" attitude which means they seek to resolve conflicts peacefully in order to protect their children, researchers said.
The study, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is a review of evolutionary evidence for the so-called "male warrior hypothesis".
It claims that in every culture throughout history, men have been more likely than women to use violence when confronted by people they saw as outsiders.
The "tribal" attitude of men, ultimately aimed at boosting their chances of reproducing, is similar to the territorial behaviour of chimpanzees, it was claimed.
The study also examined evidence which suggests men have a stronger sense of group identity than women, and that they will develop closer ties with others in their group if they are in competition with rivals.
Although men's hostile responses most likely evolved to combat the threat from outsiders, they "might not be functional in modern times and are often counterproductive," experts said.
Over time this has resulted in full-scale wars between countries and empires, and also in scraps and skirmishes between rival groups of football supporters and urban gangs.
Prof Mark van Vugt, who led the study, said: "A solution to conflict, which is an all too common problem in societies today, remains elusive. One reason for this might be the difficulty we have in changing our mindset, which has evolved over thousands of years.
"Our review of the academic literature suggests that the human mind is shaped in a way that tends to perpetuate conflict with ‘outsiders’."
Prof van Vugt said the research established that conflict with other groups of men presented our ancestors with opportunities to improve their status and gain more access to territory and potential mates.
He added: "We see similar behaviour in chimpanzees. For example, the males continuously monitor the borders of their territory.
"If a female from another group comes along, she may be persuaded to emigrate to his group. When a male strays too far, however, he is likely to be brutally beaten and possibly killed."
Research by Californian scientists in 2008 showed that the evolution of aggression and bravery in men was down to competition for mates and territory.
Their study showed that our genes can have a significant impact on traits like belligerence, meaning that in the course of our history the most aggressive group was singled out by natural selection.
Hunter-gatherer communities engaged in frequent skirmishes with other, neighbouring groups, taking land, goods and women as a reward for victory.
This meant belligerence was rewarded with reproductive success, and the benefits of the trait were genetically passed down to future generations, while those lacking aggression were filtered out.
There are several historical examples linking the male sex drive and conflict, such as Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan who studies suggest has 16 million direct male descendants today as a result of his appetite for women.
Vikings also left a strong genetic fingerprint in areas like the Scottish Western Isles, the Isle of Skye and Iceland because raiding parties would take local wives as a reward for successful raids.