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Lecture 21

PSYC 3100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Naturalistic Fallacy, Natural Selection, Monogamy

Course Code
PSYC 3100
Pat Barclay

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Lec 21
General introduction to Conflict
- Conflict: advancing one’s genetic interests at expense of others’, sometimes
- Advancing one’s own interests can certainly bring fitness benefits (if it works)
o Gaining access to material and recourses that wouldn’t otherwise benefit
- This is not a moral justification
- Naturalistic fallacy: tendency to confuse what “is” with what “ought” to be
o Simply saying something is right because it exists
o Or saying something doesn’t exist because it simply isn’t right
o Parasites/plague: they exist, may not be in our best interest but they are still
- Discussing the adaptive value of antisocial behavior is less controversial in non-
o E.g. male moose dominating other males in fights over female(s)
o Adaptive? Yes. Function: maintain exclusive access to females
o Natural selection favors the tendency to (physically) exclude other males
from mating
o Difference, between moose and (human male) Moose
Let’s get some background context…
- Living in a culture of violence, blah blah, crime, danger
- Violent Death in Contemporary Small-Scale Societies
o Many continents in which men die in the hands of other mans
Many examined hunter/gatherer societies
Most violent, upwards of 30%, least is about 4%
Our society is no where near that level
o Violent Death in Archaeological Sites (State & NonState)
Arrow wounds, weapon trauma, arrow heads, physical beating
Average range (15-20%) individuals dying violently due to another
o Violent Death in (More Recent) State Societies
Ancient Mexico (highest) 5%
U.s and Europe (1990-1960): about 2%
Including World War 1 and 2
20th century most peaceful time to live on earth
21st century showing to continue that trend
rate of violence low
o yes, there is a way to get lower, and decrease,
however we should focus on what we are also doing
right, why our numbers are so low compared to human
Now that we’ve got some context…
Different Ways to Acquire Resources

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- Peacefully (non-violence): moderate payoff, low risk
- Aggression: bigger potential payoff, risk of death/injury/jail
o Some individuals may have incentive
- Violence as a deterrent:
o “Accidents don’t happen to those who take accidents as a personal insult”
Lack of central authorities
If something bad happens to me, I’m going to blame you
Do not steal from me or I will beat you
Do not ruin my drug deal or I will kill you ayyy
- Aggression is risky, but can invade a population if no one else retaliates or stands up
to it
o Why take these risks??
Risk-sensitivity Theory
- Risky behavior: of options with equal expected payoff, the riskier behavior is the one
with greater variance in outcome
o E.g. Would you rather
A) receive 10 fitness units?
B) flip a coin to receive either 5 or 15 units?
C) flip a coin to receive either 0 or 20 units?
o Imagine a bird foraging
Do I go into riskier patch that may have a lot of food but there is a
riskier chance of getting eaten?
- If individuals are likely to survive/reproduce without taking risks:
o (e.g. if need a minimum of 9 units to survive/reproduce)
If risk succeeds, it may increase fitness
If risk is unsuccessful, risk-taker loses what it would have gotten
without taking the risk
Better to play it safe and take the instead ten, because survival is
- If they are unlikely to survive/reproduce without taking risks:
o (e.g. if need minimum of 14 units to survive/reproduce)
if risk succeeds, risk-taker gets some fitness
If risk is unsuccessful, nothing is lost because the risk-taker was
unlikely to survive/reproduce anyway
o Don’t have as much to loose so take that gamble
o If you are desperate, and not on track of doing well, you will take greater
- Violence is a risky form of competition
- Because of polygyny, there are more males on the second track than first, therefore
on track to not reproduce, therefore more beneficial to take risks
Sexual Selection and Reproductive Variance
- Recall: in many species (humans), there is greater variance in male than female
reproductive success
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