Resource Acquisition, Violence, and Evolutionary Consciousness

Gregory Gorelik, Todd K. Shackelford and Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

in The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738403
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Resource Acquisition, Violence, and Evolutionary Consciousness


The evolution and development of adaptations result from the gradual selection and inheritance of traits and behaviors that better enable organisms to acquire and maintain resources needed for survival and reproduction. We argue that instances of individual, regional, and global violence are rooted in our adaptations to seek, acquire, maintain, and utilize limited resources, regardless of whether such adaptations are currently successful at doing so. However, violence is not the only strategy employed by organisms to acquire resources; cooperation, reciprocity, and social bonding are behaviors that may likewise prove useful in this endeavor. We speculate about how individual adaptations and their by-products may interact with the adaptations of other individuals and with societal and cultural phenomena, both violently and nonviolently. Finally, we discuss how individual decisions can affect higher level regional and global violence. Individual decisions carry moral weight for the individual in question and for society as a whole. We hope to convince readers that their personal decisions and behaviors have far-reaching consequences on the well-being of others and that an evolutionary consciousness may help us to understand the effects of our personal choices on the existence of individual- and group-level violence.

Keywords: evolution; violence; war; rape; resources; sexual selection; extended phenotype

Article.  13816 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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