Chapter

Battered Women, Happy Genes

Satoshi Kanazawa

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.003.0217
Battered Women, Happy Genes

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This chapter suggests that the problem of cooperation and altruism, one of the central theoretical problems of evolutionary biology and rational choice theory, may already have been resolved. Making reference to a distinction made by Sober and Wilson (1998) between psychological altruism and evolutionary altruism, the chapter argues that many altruistic acts that are costly to the individual may nonetheless be selfish at the evolutionary level of the genes. As an illustration, the chapter proposes that battered women’s decision to stay in their abusive relationship may represent psychological altruism but evolutionary selfishness, because such women may gain the evolutionary benefit of conceiving violent sons who will be intrasexually competitive. Data show that violent men, and battered women who stay married to them, are slightly more likely to produce sons than are others.

Keywords: domestic violence; evolutionary altruism; evolutionary psychology; offspring sex ratios; psychological altruism; spousal abuse

Chapter.  3265 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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