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A test of life history strategy theory as a predictor of criminal violence across 51 nations

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Abstract

Proponents of life history strategy (LHS) theory propose that it is an explanation of intra-societal non-political violence, such as homicide and assault. Criminologists usually prefer a different explanation: variation in national violent crime rates is a function of differences in social–structural characteristics, such as absolute or relative poverty (socioeconomic inequality). We found that national homicide rates and prevalence of muggings and attacks on people define a strong single criminal violence factor at the national level. We tested the predictive properties of various plausible predictors of this factor and, separately, of national murder rates. Only the two LHS variables (paternal absenteeism and adolescent fertility) predict the complex factor independently, whereas socioeconomic inequality (Gini), IQ, GDP, infant mortality, and pathogen prevalence do not. National murder rates are predicted by the two LHS variables and inequality but not by any other variables. This supports LHS theory as an explanation of national differences in criminal violence.

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... Researchers have also examined the ability of LHS indicators to predict criminal behavior (Charles & Egan, 2005;Copping, Campbell, & Muncer, 2013;Minkov & Beaver, 2016;Rushton & Templer, 2009;Templer & Rushton, 2011). Indeed, Boutwell et al. (2015) drew upon the existing research on LHS and crime to propose a new evolutionary taxonomy and framework for understanding the origins of criminal behavior (for further discussion of this framework with an emphasis on research on non-human parallels, see Kavish, Fowler-Finn, & Boutwell, 2017). ...
... life expectancy and po- pulation density; all indicators of environmental instability and thus theoretical predictors of a faster life history speed) factors best fit the relationship. Minkov and Beaver (2016) found that parental ab- senteeism and adolescent fertility were better predictors of violent crime across 51 nations than a country's average IQ level, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, or its Gini index (a measure of socioeconomic inequality; Minkov & Beaver, 2016). Furthermore, in a study of the 50 U.S. states, a state's birth rate was positively associated with its rape rate and its life expectancy was found to be negatively related to robbery and assault rates (Templer & Rushton, 2011). ...
... life expectancy and po- pulation density; all indicators of environmental instability and thus theoretical predictors of a faster life history speed) factors best fit the relationship. Minkov and Beaver (2016) found that parental ab- senteeism and adolescent fertility were better predictors of violent crime across 51 nations than a country's average IQ level, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, or its Gini index (a measure of socioeconomic inequality; Minkov & Beaver, 2016). Furthermore, in a study of the 50 U.S. states, a state's birth rate was positively associated with its rape rate and its life expectancy was found to be negatively related to robbery and assault rates (Templer & Rushton, 2011). ...
Article
The current study seeks to further understand risk factors for sexually coercive behavior by evaluating how indicators of population level average Life History speed (LHS; e.g., teen birth rate) compare to typical criminogenic variables (e.g., Socioeconomic status) as predictors of state variation in rape rates across the 50 United States, as well as the relationship between individuals' LHS and self-reported proclivity for, and perpetration of, sexually coercive behaviors in a community sample (n = 162). LH strategies are described as a continuum of "LH speeds," and variation in LHS has been connected to variation in aggressive and violent behavior. The current project extends this research by testing population level variation in LHS indicators and individual variation in psychometric LHS as a predictor of variation in sexually coercive behavior. At the U.S. state level, the teen birth rate (B = .63, p = .016) was the strongest predictor of between-state variation in rape rates. Although significant bivariate associations were found between psychometric LHS and sexually coercive behavior, at the multivariate level, facets of LHS were linked to self-reported propensity to engage in sexual coercion, but less so with actual perpetration.
... Therefore, it is identified that homicides occur due to factors other than inequality. Thus, Minkov & Beaver [31] argue that murder rates in the United States are predicted by parental absenteeism and adolescent fertility. They are also due to a high possession of firearms [32]. ...
... This result is the opposite of that of a study for 51 nations that claims that cognitive achievement does not predict the homicide rate, nor do income inequality, GDP or poverty. The factors that predict homicides are: abandonment of children by their parents and teenage pregnancy [31]. ...
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Abstract: The aim of this research is to analyse the effect of income inequality on the homicide rate. The study is carried out in 18 Latin American countries for the period 2005–2018. The methodology used is the Generalized Least Squares (GLS) model and the data were obtained from World Development Indicators, the World Health Organization and the Inter-American Development Bank. Thus, the dependent variable is the homicide rate and the independent variable is income inequality. In addition, some control variables are included, such as: poverty, urban population rate, unemployment, schooling rate, spending on security and GDP per capita, which improve the consistency of the model. The results obtained through GLS model determine that inequality has a negative and significant effect on the homicide rate for high-income countries (HIC) and lower-middle-income countries (LMIC), whereas it is positive and significant for upper-middle-income countries (UMIC). On the other hand, the control variables show different results by group of countries. In the case of unemployment, it is not significant in any group of countries. Negative spatial dependence was found regarding spatial models such as: the spatial lag (SAR) and spatial error (SEM) method. In the spatial Durbin model (SDM), positive spatial dependence between the variables was corroborated. However, spatial auto-regressive moving average (SARMA) identified no spatial dependence. Under these results it is proposed: to improve productivity, education and improve the efficiency of security-oriented resources. View Full-Text Keywords: inequality; homicides; Latin America; spatial models
... Prior research, moreover, has also found strong evidence of associations between other indicators of a faster LHS and direct measures of criminal behavior, including a younger age at reproduction and adolescent fertility (Hunt, 2006;Kavish and Anderson, 2018;Minkov and Beaver, 2016), total fertility (Yao et al., 2014), parental absenteeism (Minkov and Beaver, 2016), low self-control (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990;Tittle et al., 2003) and higher sensation-seeking (e.g. Joireman et al., 2003). ...
... Prior research, moreover, has also found strong evidence of associations between other indicators of a faster LHS and direct measures of criminal behavior, including a younger age at reproduction and adolescent fertility (Hunt, 2006;Kavish and Anderson, 2018;Minkov and Beaver, 2016), total fertility (Yao et al., 2014), parental absenteeism (Minkov and Beaver, 2016), low self-control (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990;Tittle et al., 2003) and higher sensation-seeking (e.g. Joireman et al., 2003). ...
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Purpose: Criminology has produced more than a century of informative research on the social correlates of criminal behavior. Recently, a growing body of theoretical and empirical work has begun to apply evolutionary principles, particularly from Life History Theory, to the study of crime. As this body of research continues to grow, it is important that theory synthesizes evolutionary principles with the decades of sociological research on the correlates of crime. Design: The current paper reviews the brief history of research applying Life History concepts to criminology, providing an overview of the underlying framework, exploring examples of empirically testable and tested hypotheses that have been derived from the theory, discussing cautions and criticisms of Life History research, and discussing how this area of research can be integrated with existing theory. Findings: A growing body of research has, with relative consistency, associated indicators of a faster Life History strategy with aggression and violence in humans and across the animal kingdom. Research into these associations is still vulnerable to genetic confounding and more research with genetically sensitive designs is needed. The use of hypotheses informed by evolutionary insight and tested with genetically sensitive designs provides the best option for understanding how environmental factors can have an impact on violent and criminal behavior. Value: The current paper provides an updated review of the growing application of Life History Theory to the study of human behavior and acknowledges criticisms and areas of concern that need to be considered when forming hypotheses for research.
... Additionally, the link between LHS and human behavior has been found when examining specific indicators of LHS (Minkov & Beaver, 2016), as well as when using scores on psychometric measures of LHS (Wenner, Figueredo, & Jacobs, 2005), such that higher rates of fast LHS indicators and lower scores on measures of the K-factor correspond with higher rates of violence and aggression. ...
... Rushton and Templer (2009) found average life expectancy to be a significant predictor of national differences in serious assault, rape, and murder across 113 nations. Along similar lines, Minkov and Beaver (2016) uncovered evidence that adolescent fertility and parental absenteeism predicted national differences in muggings, assaults, and murders across 51 countries. At the level of the state, Templer and Rushton (2011) found state differences (within the USA) in life expectancy to predict robbery, assault, and murder rates. ...
Book
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This review of recent evolutionary theories on psychopathology takes on controversies and contradictions both with established psychological thought and within the evolutionary field itself. Opening with the ancestral origins of the familiar biopsychosocial model of psychological conditions, the book traces distinctive biological and cultural pathways shaping human development and their critical impact on psychiatric and medical disorders. Analyses of disparate phenomena such as jealousy, social anxiety, depressive symptoms, and antisocial behavior describe adaptive functions that have far outlasted their usefulness, or that require further study and perhaps new directions for treatment. In addition, the book’s compelling explorations of violence, greed, addiction, and suicide challenge us to revisit many of our assumptions regarding what it means to be human. Included in the coverage: · Evolutionary foundations of psychiatric compared to non-psychiatric disorders.· Evolutionary psychopathology, uncomplicated depression, and the distinction between normal and disordered sadness. · Depression: is rumination really adaptive? · A CBT approach to coping with sexual betrayal and the green-eyed monster. · Criminology’s modern synthesis: remaking the science of crime with Darwinian insight. · Anthropathology: the abiding malady of the species. With its wealth of interdisciplinary viewpoints, The Evolution of Psychopathology makes an appropriate supplementary text for advanced graduate courses in the evolutionary sciences, particularly in psychology, biology, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy.
... Most recently, researchers have begun to examine criminality directly using a life history lens (e.g., Boutwell, Barnes, Deaton, & Beaver, 2013;Boutwell, Barnes, Beaver, Haynes, Nedelec, & Gibson, 2015). For example, Minkov and Beaver (2016) examined the criminality of 51 countries and found that nations with fewer teenage pregnancies and single parent homes (both indicators of faster LH) have lower reported levels of violent criminality (e.g., assault or mugging). Importantly, they found that a variety of common indicators, such as socioeconomic status, did not predict criminal violence. ...
... Importantly, they found that a variety of common indicators, such as socioeconomic status, did not predict criminal violence. The same researchers also found that crossnational incidences of homicide were also predicted by nationwide faster LH indicators (Minkov & Beaver, 2016). Nevertheless, this study was conducted at an aggregated population-level of analysis of national homicide rates and not directed to the prediction of individuallevel perpetration of aggressive acts. ...
Article
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We integrate life history (LH) theory with “hot/cool” systems theory of self-regulation to predict sexually and socially coercive behaviors, including intimate partner violence (IPV) and interpersonal aggression (IPA). LH theory predicts that a variety of traits form LH strategies: adaptively coordinated behavioral clusters arrayed on a continuum from slow to fast. We test various structural models examining the propositions that: (1) “hot” cognitive processes, promoted by faster LH strategies, increase the likelihood of sexually/socially coercive behaviors that make up IPV and IPA; (2) “cool” cognitive processes, promoted by slower LH strategies, buffer against the likelihood of sexually/socially coercive behaviors that make up IPV and IPA. We present single- and multi-sample structural equations models (SEMs and MSEMs) testing hypothesized causal association of these theoretically specified predictors with IPV and IPA. Study 1 develops a Structural Equation Model for IPV; Study 2, which extends the model to IPA using MSEM, provides five cross-cultural constructive replications of the findings. Integrated LH theory and hot/cool systems analysis of cognitive processes is a promising and productive heuristic for future research on IPV and IPA perpetration and victimization.
... In a meta-analysis of approximately five hundred research results, Ellis (1988) showed the link between criminal behavior and a number of fast LH strategy components, such as gender (male), age (12-30), upbringing in a singleparent household, trauma experienced in childhood, early sexual maturation, early age of sexual initiation, promiscuity, low investments in offspring, and anticipation of early death. More recent studies support these findings, indicating a connection between criminal activity and receiving low parental investments in childhood (Hoeve et al. 2009), upbringing in a single-parent household (Barber 2004(Barber , 2007Bartol and Bartol 2014;Minkov and Beaver 2016), high fertility, high sexual drive, promiscuity (Boutwell et al. 2013;Nedelec and Beaver 2012;Yao et al. 2014), early paternity (Lehti et al. 2012;Stouthamer-Loeber and Wei 1998), or making low investments in partners and offspring (Yao et al. 2014). Furthermore, the results of research by Mishra et al. (2017) have shown the association between a fast LH strategy measured by the Mini-K and a higher probability of being arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. ...
Article
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A high risk of morbidity-mortality caused by a harsh and unpredictable environment is considered to be associated with a fast life history (LH) strategy, commonly linked with criminal behavior. However, offenders are not the only group with a high exposure to extrinsic morbidity-mortality. In the present study, we investigated the LH strategies employed by two groups of Polish men: incarcerated offenders (N = 84) as well as soldiers and firefighters (N = 117), whose professions involve an elevated risk of injury and premature death. The subjects were asked to complete the Mini-K (used as a psychosocial LH indicator) and a questionnaire which included a number of biodemographic LH variables. Although biodemographic and psychosocial LH indicators should be closely linked with each other, the actual connection between them is unclear. Thus, this study was driven by two aims: comparing LH strategies in two groups of men with a high risk of premature morbidity-mortality and investigating the relationship between the biodemographic and psychosocial LH dimensions. The study showed that incarcerated men employed faster LH strategies than soldiers and firefighters, but only in relation to biodemographic variables (e.g., number of siblings, age of sexual initiation, life expectancy). No intergroup differences emerged regarding psychosocial LH indicators. Moreover, the correlation analysis showed a weak association between biodemographic and psychosocial LH indicators. The results strengthen the legitimacy of incorporating biodemographic LH traits into research models and indicate the need for further research on the accuracy of the Mini-K. The possible explanations for the intergroup differences in LH strategies are discussed.
... Commitment to a faster life history strategy can lead to greater risk-taking (Hampson et al., 2016;Mishra et al., 2017), impulsivity (Frankenhuis et al., 2016;Maner et al., 2017), and aggression against others (Figueredo et al., 2018). Also, robust indicators of faster life history, such as paternal absenteeism and adolescent fertility, predict national rates of criminal violence (Minkov and Beaver, 2016), child maltreatment, and homicide (Hackman and Hruschka, 2013). Moral condemnation of multi-partner mating may thereby occur when condemners believe that monogamy prevents competitive contests for mates, enhancing cooperation within groups and reducing negative physical and mental health outcomes. ...
Article
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Life history theory (LHT) predicts that individuals vary in their sexual, reproductive, parental, familial, and social behavior according to the physical and social challenges imposed upon them throughout development. LHT provides a framework for understanding why non-monogamy may be the target of significant moral condemnation: individuals who habitually form multiple romantic or sexual partnerships may pursue riskier, more competitive interpersonal strategies that strain social cooperation. We compared several indices of life history (i.e., the Mini-K, the High-K Strategy Scale, pubertal timing, sociosexuality, disease avoidance, and risk-taking) between individuals practicing monogamous and consensually non-monogamous (CNM) romantic relationships. Across several measures, CNM individuals reported a faster life history strategy than monogamous individuals, and women in CNM relationships reported earlier pubertal development. CNM individuals also reported more social and ethical risk-taking, less aversion to germs, and greater interest in short-term mating (and less interest in long-term mating) than monogamous individuals. From these data, we discuss a model to explain how moral stigma toward non-monogamy evolved and how these attitudes may be mismatched to the modern environment. Specifically, we argue that the culture of sexual ethics that pervades contemporary CNM communities (e.g., polyamory, swinging) may attenuate risky interpersonal behaviors (e.g., violent intrasexual competition, retributive jealousy, partner/child abandonment, disease transmission) that are relatively more common among those who pursue multi-partner mating.
... Boldness is also positively related to fecundity (fishing spiders: Johnson & Sih, 2005; laying hens: Barnett, Hemsworth, & Newman, 1992 There is a growing body of work on this topic examining humans, as well, much of which has uncovered evidence that variation in aggression and violence correlates with LHS (Beaver, Wright, & Walsh, 2008;Charles & Egan, 2005;Rushton & Templer, 2009;Rushton & Whitney, 2002), both across populations (e.g., Rushton & Templer, 2009;Rushton & Whitney, 2002;Walker et al., 2006) and across individuals within a population (Charles & Egan, 2005;Figueredo, Vásquez, et al., 2005). Additionally, the link between LHS and human behavior has been found when examining specific indicators of LHS (Minkov & Beaver, 2016), as well as when using scores on psychometric measures of LHS (Wenner, Figueredo, & Jacobs, 2005), such that higher rates of fast LHS indicators and lower scores on measures of the K-factor correspond with higher rates of violence and aggression. ...
Chapter
For over a century and half now, the biological sciences have been moored to a unifying set of principles—that life on earth is ancient; that all life is descended from a common ancestor; that the diversity of species on the planet is the product of random genetic mutations and a combination of random genetic drift and nonrandom selection favoring alleles promoting survival and reproduction; and that these processes apply to every living organism (Buss, 2015; Darwin, 1859; Dennett, 1995; Goetz & Shackelford, 2006; Pinker, 1997; Stearns, 2000; Wright, 1994). Yet, for decades (and decades) in the social sciences, scholars have conducted their work as if humans, for all practical purposes, were exempted from these universal evolutionary processes (Horowitz, Yaworsky, & Kickham, 2014; Maynard, Boutwell, Vaughn, Naeger, & Dell, 2015; Pinker, 2002). At most, these scholars allowed for the fact that our bodies may have been historically sculpted by natural selection, but the instant we invented culture we were freed from the laws of nature and exempted from the pressures of selection forces (Cochran & Harpending, 2009). Consequently, the role of biology in some disciplines has come a distant second to the role of culture and socialization in exploring and explaining human nature and human differences (Pinker, 2002; Winegard, Winegard, & Boutwell, 2017).
... The importance for pro-social personality development of receiving parental guidance in the early years tallies with the results of a study that was published too recently to be cited in the book: in a study of 51 nations, Minkov and Beaver (2016) found that the rate of parental absenteeism in a nation was a significant predictor of its rate of criminal violence. This finding in turn converges with evidence that youth crime is over-represented in lone parent families in the UK, since they constitute approximately 25% of households with dependent children (Office for National Statistics, 2015a,b) yet produce approximately 70% of the nation's young offenders (Youth Justice Board, 2002). ...
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In this article we take an empirical cross-country perspective to investigate the robustness and causality of the link between income inequality and crime rates. First, we study the correlation between the Gini index and, respectively, homicide and robbery rates along different dimensions of the data (within and between countries). Second, we examine the inequality-crime link when other potential crime determinants are controlled for. Third, we control for the likely joint endogeneity of income inequality in order to isolate its exogenous impact on homicide and robbery rates. Fourth, we control for the measurement error in crime rates by modelling it as both unobserved country-specific effects and random noise. Lastly, we examine the robustness of the inequality-crime link to alternative measures of inequality. The sample for estimation consists of panels of non-overlapping 5-year averages for 39 countries over 1965-95 in the case of homicides, and 37 countries over 1970-1994 in the case of robberies. We use a variety of statistical techniques, from simple correlations to regression analysis and from static OLS to dynamic GMM estimation. We find that crime rates and inequality are positively correlated (within each country and, particularly, between countries), and it appears that this correlation reflects causation from inequality to crime rates, even controlling for other crime determinants.
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This study provides a first empirical test of the relationship between indicators of police performance and homicide rates in cross-national perspective. Results show that police performance indices are strongly associated with lower homicide rates, controlling for the levels of socioeconomic development, economic problems (poverty–inequality), democracy, and incarceration. They also show that police performance fully mediates the relationship between socioeconomic development and homicide. Thus, richer and more developed nations may have lower homicide rates because they have better police. Overall, results suggest that good policing matters for cross-national criminology, in addition to social and economic factors. Finally, the new police performance index is provided for future research.
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A number of studies have used national behavior-related statistics to propose measures of a so-called “K factor”, or societal “hypometropia”. The reported variants of this dimension reflect societal differences in mating strategies, risk-acceptance, and aspects of time orientation, such as delay of gratification. Until now, no clear analog to this dimension had been found in paper-and-pencil studies of subjective national culture, focusing on values, beliefs, attitudes, or other worldviews. The present study analyzes values for children from the World Values Survey. A factor analysis across 71 nations partly replicates Inglehart’s two dimensions of national culture and extracts a third factor, defined by importance of thrift, responsibility, and independence versus obedience. It creates a clear contrast between East Asia and Africa and resembles a somewhat similar dimension of national culture by the Chinese Culture Connection. It is also associated with societal hypometropia. Thus, the K factor/hypometropia has an analog in national values.
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The phenomena of strategic and cognitive differentiation and integration (SD–IE and CD–IE) amongst life history indicators and cognitive abilities as a function of level of latent life history speed have been robustly demonstrated in individual differences samples. Here we examine a cross-national sample (N = 76 nations) with respect to ten aggregate life history indicators (birth rate, infant mortality, skin reflectance, prevalence of STDs, overall life satisfaction, life expectancy, national IQ, cranial capacity, savings rate and crime rate), all of which share substantive common variance stemming from a K-Super factor which accounts for 66.6% of the variance amongst these indicators. All indicators became signifi-cantly less strongly correlated with the super factor as the level of K increased indicating the presence of robust SD–IE effects. A 'cognitive' factor comprised of the national IQ and cranial capacity variables also exhibited differentiation as a function of increasing levels of K, suggesting the presence of CD–IE also. Consistently with the findings of individual differences studies investigating SD–IE, the degree to which the indicators loaded on the K super-factor positively mediated their sensitivity to the effect.
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Despite Rushton’s path-breaking work into evolutionary forces affecting life history traits, not many attempts at operationalizing the differential-K spectrum at the level of countries or racial groups have been made so far. We report the construction of a “national K” factor from country-level behavioral variables. This K factor is closely related to country-level intelligence (“g”), operationalized by a composite score of IQ and scholastic achievement. We further demonstrate relationships of both g and K with measures of current environment and hypothesized evolutionary antecedents. Whereas K is predicted most powerfully by intelligence, log-transformed GDP (lgGDP) and skin reflectance, g is predicted by skin reflectance, lgGDP, cranial capacity, and a measure of evolutionary novelty.
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We use data of neighborhoods of Bogotá to assess the causal relation between their adolescent fertility and their homicide rates. We find that neighborhoods with high adolescent fertility rates, and that have low secondary enrollment and high crime rates at the moment the children of their teen mothers become teenagers, are more likely to have higher homicide rates in the future, when those children reach their peak crime ages, estimated to be between 18 to 26 years old in violent cities of Colombia. The result is robust to various specifications, and to modeling the spatial autocorrelation of homicides.
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Cross-national research has increased in the past few decades, resulting in a large body of empirical research. In particular, cross-national studies are often limited in data sources, which restrict variable selection to debatable proxy indicators. This study therefore uses meta-analytic techniques to examine major cross-national predictors of homicide to determine strengths and weaknesses in theory and design. The findings indicate several critical limitations to cross-national research, including biased sample composition, a lack of theoretical clarity in predictor operationalizations, and an overwhelming reliance on cross-sectional design. The predictors that showed the strongest mean effects were Latin American regional dummy variables, income inequality indicators and the Decommodification Index. Conversely, static population indicators, democracy indices, and measures of economic development had the weakest effects on homicide.
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This article argues that social science can be conducted beneath the umbrella of natural science and evolutionary theory. Evolutionary social science makes four key causal assumptions: (a) that modern societies owe their character to an interaction of hunter—gatherer adaptations with the modern environment, (b) that some changes in societies reflect change in individuals, (c) that historical changes and cross-societal differences can be due to similar adaptational mechanisms, given (d) that different social contexts (e.g., food scarcity, single parenthood) modify psychological development through adaptive mechanisms. This approach is illustrated by cross-national data on violent crime and single parenthood.
Among foragers, men's foods are often shared widely outside the household, undercutting variation in the benefit their wives and children receive. This means polygyny may not be due to variation in household provisioning. Some have even suggested that bonds in general, whether polygynous or monogamous, may have less to do with male provisioning than male-male contest competition. However, an analysis of foragers in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample reveals that male provisioning does affect the mating system. Societies with higher male contribution to subsistence are more monogamous. The author argues that women value male provisioning less where males bring in less food, which results in greater polygyny. Where it is difficult for women to acquire food, they value male provisioning more, forcing males to compete via food acquisition. Food sharing prevents the polygyny threshold from being reached but does not completely erase the benefit of pair bonding with a good forager.
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This article draws on Agnew's general strain theory to explain community differences in crime rates. After reviewing the communities and crime research, the author discusses the ways in which community-level variables contribute to strain, including the failure to achieve positively valued goals and the loss of positive stimuli/presentation of negative stimuli. The ways in which community-level variables condition the impact of strain on crime are then examined.
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One third of all children are born to unmarried mothers and over one half of children will spend some time in a single-parent family. In fact, single-father families are the fastest growing family form. Using data from the 1995 National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, the authors extend prior research that has investigated the effects of growing up in a two-parent versus single-mother family by examining adolescent delinquency in single-father families, too. This strategy helps us to identify the mechanisms through which living with a single parent increases delinquency, notably, whether the effect is predominantly a function of parental absence (i.e., one versus two parents) or parental gender (i.e., single mother versus single father). The results indicate that adolescents in single-parent families are significantly more delinquent than their counterparts residing with two biological, married parents, although these differences are reduced once the authors account for various family processes. Furthermore, family processes fully account for the higher levels of delinquency exhibited by adolescents from single-father versus single-mother families.
Chapter
This chapter discusses the variations in homicide as indicative of variations in competitive risk taking, interpreting prevalent conflict typologies and demographic patterns as reflections of evolved motivational and information processing mechanisms that function to regulate competitive inclinations and actions. Connections are then drawn to research on future discounting and impulsivity, on the effects of inequity on violence, and on the bidirectional influences between circulating testosterone levels and social experience. It argues that the Darwinian Theory, especially sexual selection theory, provides a framework that can both synthesize existing knowledge in these disparate domains and facilitate future discovery. Evolutionary psychology is the pursuit of psychological science with explicit consideration of the fact that the psyche is, like the body, a product of evolutionary processes.
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This paper tests Agnew's (1992) general strain theory (GST) of crime and delinquency. GST argues that strain occurs when others (1) prevent or threaten to prevent you from achieving positively valued goals, (2) remove or threaten to remove positively valued stimuli that you possess, or (3) present or threaten to present you with noxious or negatively valued stimuli. The impact of such strain on delinquency is said to be conditioned by several variables, such as association with delinquent peers and self-efficacy. Data from a sample of 1,380 New Jersey adolescents provide qualified support for the theory; strain measures of the type described above have a relatively substantial effect on delinquency and drug use. Further, the effect of these strain measures is conditioned by delinquent peers and self-efficacy, as predicted by GST.
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Violent crimes, including murders, rapes, and assaults are substantially higher in the Americas than other regions of the world. This study investigated the role of single parenthood ratios in accounting for this regional variation in violent crime of 39 countries using INTERPOL data. It pitted the prediction of parental investment (calling for a delayed relationship between single parenthood and crime) against a mating aggression hypothesis that predicted a contemporaneous effect. Regression analyses found that current single parenthood ratios were strongly and consistently predictive of violent crimes whereas single parenthood ratios 18 years earlier were not and this conclusion remained following controls for income inequality and the population sex ratio. The results indicate that the regional difference in violent crime is best explained in terms of mating competition rather than reduced parental investment. Aggr. Behav. 32:1–9, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
Recently, the concept of “collective efficacy” has been advanced to understand how communities exert control and provide support to reduce crime. In a similar way, we use the concept of “parental efficacy” to highlight the crime reducing effects associated with parents who support and control their youth. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), we examine the inter-relationship between parental controls and supports and their joint influence on youthful misbehavior. The results show that (1) support and control are intertwined, and (2) that parental efficacy exerts substantive effects on adolescent delinquency for the sample as a whole and across varying age groups.
Article
An impressive body of research has revealed that individual-level IQ scores are negatively associated with criminal and delinquent involvement. Recently, this line of research has been extended to show that state-level IQ scores are associated with state-level crime rates. The current study uses this literature as a springboard to examine the potential association between county-level IQ and county-level crime rates. Analysis of data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health revealed statistically significant and negative associations between county-level IQ and the property crime rate, the burglary rate, the larceny rate, the motor vehicle theft rate, the violent crime rate, the robbery rate, and the aggravated assault rate. Additional analyses revealed that these associations were not confounded by a measure of concentrated disadvantage that captures the effects of race, poverty, and other social disadvantages of the county. We discuss the implications of the results and note the limitations of the study.
Article
Regional differences in disease prevalence are associated with a wide array of cross-cultural differences. However, the complex relationships among culture, disease, and other ecological variables remain underinvestigated. Future research into the origins of cultural differences will benefit from the availability of a numerical index identifying the extent to which infectious diseases have been historically prevalent within regions defined by geopolitical borders. This article introduces such an index. This index is based on disease prevalence data obtained from old epidemiological atlases and is calculated for 230 geopolitical regions (mostly nations) around the world.
Article
This paper presents a general strain theory of crime and delinquency that is capable of overcoming the criticisms of previous strain theories. In the first section, strain theory is distinguished from social control and differential association/social learning theory. In the second section, the three major types of strain are described: (1) strain as the actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, (2) strain as the actual or anticipated removal of positively valued stimuli, and (3) strain as the actual or anticipated presentation of negatively valued stimuli. In the third section, guidelines for the measurement of strain are presented. And in the fourth section, the major adaptations to strain are described, and those factors influencing the choice of delinquent versus nondelinquent adaptations are discussed.
Article
Rushton's theory of r-K race differences was examined in relation to the rate of murder, rape, and serious assault per 100,000 population and Gross Domestic Product per Person for 74 countries from the 1993–1996 International Crime Statistics published by INTERPOL and the 1999 CIA World Fact Book. Each country was assigned to one of the three macro-races East Asian, European, and African. The results corroborated earlier findings that violent crime is lowest in East Asian countries, intermediate in European countries, and highest in African and in Black Caribbean countries. The median number of violent crimes per 100,000 population were: 7 East Asian countries—34; 45 European countries—42; and 22 African and Black Caribbean countries—149, respectively. The median Gross Domestic Product per Person was highest in East Asian countries (12,600), intermediate in European countries (12,600), intermediate in European countries (7,400), and lowest in African and Black Caribbean countries ($1,900). Across the three population groups there was an ecological correlation of –.96 between crime and wealth (wealthier countries had less crime). Finer-grained analyses, however, found that while wealth was negatively related to crime across European or East Asian countries, it was positively related to crime for the African and Black Caribbean countries (i.e., the wealthier an African or Black Caribbean country, the greater its rate of violent crime). Future research needs to examine genetic factors in addition to cultural factors as well as their interactions.
Article
National differences in murder, rape, and serious assault were examined in 113 countries in relation to national IQ, income, skin color, birth rate, life expectancy, infant mortality, and HIV/AIDS. Data were collated from the 1993–1996 International Crime Statistics published by INTERPOL. Violent crime was found to be lower in countries with higher IQs, higher life expectancies, lighter skin color, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS, although not with higher national incomes or higher rates of infant mortality. A principal components analysis found the first general factor accounted for 52% of the variance. Moreover, the correlations were significantly higher with skin color, a more biologically influenced variable, than with measures of national income, a more culturally influenced variable. When the 19 sub-Saharan African countries were excluded from analysis the crime/IQ relation held but the crime/skin color relation did not.
Article
This article hypothesizes that in societies where spouses are considered to have relatively equal status, they are more likely to be intimate with one another than in societies where there is spousal status inequality. The authors ask: What are the core attributes of intimacy between husband and wife cross-culturally? And what sociocultural norms and practices are associated with intimate/nonintimate spousal relationships? Five variables are used as indicators of intimacy: husband– wife sleeping proximity, privacy in sleeping for husbands and wives, husband– wife eating arrangement, husband–wife spending leisure time together, and husband attending birth of his child. These variables are correlated with 60 variables for female status in “traditional” societies constructed and coded by Whyte. From this research, the authors develop a female kin power model based on five main sociocultural variables: war, skewed sex ratio, polygyny, parental warmth, and socialization for aggression. Results indicate that intimacy in spousal relationships is significantly predicted by female status.
Article
The literature on human mate preferences is vast but most data come from studies on college students in complex societies, who represent a thin slice of cultural variation in an evolutionarily novel environment. Here, I present data on the mate preferences of men and women in a society of hunter-gatherers, the Hadza of Tanzania. Hadza men value fertility in a mate more than women do, and women value intelligence more than men do. Women place great importance on men's foraging, and both sexes rate character as important. Unlike college students, Hadza men place considerable importance on women being hard-working, and Hadza women cite looks about as often as men do. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
Article
Early motherhood (less than 20 years of age) was found to be significantly correlated (r = .33) with the number of DSM-III symptoms of conduct disorder in a sample of 253 boys aged 6-13 years who had been referred to outpatient clinics. The following models were compared using path analysis: (a) Teenage motherhood, parental antisocial personality, and SES each contribute uniquely to the prediction of childhood conduct problems; (b) teenage motherhood mediates the association of SES and parental antisocial personality with child conduct problems; and (c) teenage motherhood is spuriously related with child conduct problems because of common associations with SES and parental antisocial personality. Model (c) best fit our data. Similar results were obtained whether maternal age at the birth of the firstborn child or the proband child was used to define maternal age and when teenage motherhood was defined as giving birth at less than 18 years.
Article
The early identification of risk factors for juvenile offending is one important step in preventing youth violence and offending. This cohort study examined whether perinatal circumstances predicted offending during adolescence. Washington State birth certificates from 1974 to 1975 were linked to juvenile justice data to identify all individuals adjudicated between 10 and 17 years of age. Thirteen thousand five hundred seventy-three offenders were compared with a sample of 38 387 nonoffenders matched on gender and birth order. Both male and female children of mothers who were teenagers at the child's birth or at her first birth, or who were born to unmarried mothers, had significantly increased risk for any juvenile offending, and for being adjudicated for five or more crimes (chronic offending). Males born to unmarried mothers under 18 years old had an 11-fold increased risk of chronic offending compared with males born to married mothers >/=20 years old. Low birth weight and preterm gestational age carried no increased risk for juvenile offending. Birth to teenage or unmarried mothers are strongly associated with later risk of juvenile delinquency. Although there are multiple, interrelated risk factors for juvenile delinquency, prevention of births to teenage and/or unmarried mothers may help to prevent subsequent juvenile delinquency.
Article
Studies have shown that poverty and income are powerful predictors of homicide and violent crime. We hypothesized that the effect of the growing gap between the rich and poor is mediated through an undermining of social cohesion, or social capital, and that decreased social capital is in turn associated with increased firearm homicide and violent crime. Social capital was measured by the weighted responses to two items from the U.S. General Social Survey: the per capita density of membership in voluntary groups in each state; and the level of social trust, as gauged by the proportion of residents in each state who believed that "most people would take advantage of you if they got the chance". Age-standardized firearm homicide rates for the years 1987-1991 and firearm robbery and assault incidence rates for years 1991-1994 were obtained for each of the 50 U.S. states. Income inequality was strongly correlated with firearm violent crime (firearm homicide, r = 0.76) as well as the measures of social capital: per capita group membership (r = -0.40) and lack of social trust (r = 0.73). In turn, both social trust (firearm homicide, r = 0.83) and group membership (firearm homicide, r = -0.49) were associated with firearm violent crime. These relationships held when controlling for poverty and a proxy variable for access to firearms. The profound effects of income inequality and social capital, when controlling for other factors such as poverty and firearm availability, on firearm violent crime indicate that policies that address these broader, macro-social forces warrant serious consideration.
Article
The United States has a teenage birth rate that is high relative to that of other developed countries, and falling more slowly. Children of teenagers may experience difficult childhoods and hence be more likely to commit crimes subsequently. I assess to what extent lagged teen birth rates can explain why the United States had the highest developed country crime rates in the 1980s, and why US rates subsequently fell so much. For this purpose, I use internationally comparable crime rates measured from the 1989-2000 International Crime Victims Surveys. I find that an increase in the share of young people born to a teen mother increases the assault rate. The type of assault affected is perpetrated by unarmed lone assailants known to the victim by name, particularly at home or at work, and is not reported to the police. The pattern of teen births in the United States explains –30% of the relative fall in assaults by assailants known to the victim, but more than explains the 1980s gap with the rest of the world. I also present evidence on larceny and burglary.