Sexual Conflict in Mateships: From Mate Retention to Murder

Farnaz Kaighobadi, Todd K. Shackelford and Aaron T. Goetz

in The Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Sexual Conflict in Mateships: From Mate Retention to Murder

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In response to the tragically high incidence and negative consequences of female-directed violence in intimate relationships, a large literature has investigated the predictors of men’s partner-directed violence and murder. Evolutionary psychology offers a framework for investigating the design of evolved information-processing mechanisms that motivate costly behaviors such as men’s partner-directed violence. We review several forms of men’s partner-directed violence, including insults, sexual coercion, physical violence, and homicide, with a particular focus on the adaptive problem of paternity uncertainty. The problem of paternity uncertainty is hypothesized to have selected for the emotion of male sexual jealousy, which in turn motivates men’s nonviolent and violent mate retention behaviors. We review empirical evidence for the relationships between paternity uncertainty, male sexual jealousy, and men’s partner-directed violence and the individual differences in men’s perpetration of violence. We propose that a comprehensive understanding of men’s partner-directed violence will be achieved only by careful consideration of both proximate and ultimate causes of such costly behaviors.

Keywords: intimate partner violence; paternity uncertainty; male sexual jealousy; evolutionary psychology

Article.  8079 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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