The human race spends a disproportionate amount of attention, money, and expertise in solving, trying, and reporting homicides, as compared to other social problems. The public avidly consumes accounts of real-life homicide cases, and murder fiction is more popular still. Nevertheless, we have only the most rudimentary scientific understanding of who is likely to kill whom and why. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson apply contemporary evolutionary theory to analysis of human motives and perceptions of self-interest, considering where and why individual interests conflict, using well-documented murder cases.
This book attempts to understand normal social motives in murder as products of the process of evolution by natural selection. They note that the implications for psychology are many and profound, touching on such matters as parental affection and rejection, sibling rivalry, sex differences in interests and inclinations, social comparison and achievement motives, our sense of justice, lifespan developmental changes in attitudes, and the phenomenology of the self.
This is the first volume of its kind to analyze homicides in the light of a theory of interpersonal conflict. Before this study, no one had compared an observed distribution of victim-killer relationships to "expected" distribution, nor asked about the patterns of killer-victim age disparities in familial killings. This evolutionary psychological approach affords a deeper view and understanding of homicidal violence.
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A classic in evolutionary psychology. The ideas are still fresh despite the book now being 25 years old, as most subsequent work is based on this book. Well-written and packed with data, it's considerably more careful (and less sensationalist) than some others that have followed. Strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in either the causes of violence or in evolutionary psych... it's an example of how to do it right.
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Homicide and Human Nature
A Brief Introduction to Selection Thinking
SelfInterest and Conflict
Whats A Homicide?
Who Kills Whom? Some American Data
The Sexual Selective History of Homo sapiens
Intrasexual Competition and Violence
Margaret Mead and New Guinea
On the Causes of Sex Differences
The Logic of SameSex Conflict
The Demography of Homicide
The Problem of Motive
Do Relatives Pose a Lesser Risk?
Collaborative Killing in 13thCentury England
Some Other Studies with Higher Proportions of Blood Kin
Kinship and Collaborative Homicide Revisited
Killing Children I Infanticide in the Ethnographic Record
Womens Life Histories
Discriminative Parental Solicitude
A CrossCultural Review
Killing Children II Parental Homicide in the Modern West
Infanticide and Maternal Age
Infanticide and Maternal Marital Status
A Brief History of Infanticide in England
On Maternal Bonding
When a Defective Child Is Born
The Childs Changing Risk of Homicide at Parental Hands
Mothers Who Kill Older Children
Fathers Who Kill
Risks to Children Living with Stepparents
Stepparents and Offspring Age
Parricide Killing Parents
An Asymmetry of Valuation
Factors Associated with the Risk of Parricide
Oedipal Conflict and the Primal Parricide
Conflict Over What?
Toppling the Patriarch
Intrasexual Rivalry or ParentOffspring Conflict?
Altercations and Honor
Status Reputation and the Capacity for Violence
A Question of Variance
What Do Men Want?
Why Men and Not Women?
Polygyny Is a Matter of Degree
Sexual Success versus Survival?
Insult and Redress
Sexual Rivalry Homicides
Till Death Us Do Part
Wives as Commodities?
Provocation and the Reasonable Man
Spousal Homicide and Sexual Jealousy in North America
The Killers View of the Matter
Conjugal Jealousy and Violence Around the World
Violence as Coercive Control
From May to December
Partners in Procreation
Familicide Suicide and Spite
Retaliation and Revenge
On the CrossCultural Ubiquity of Blood Revenge
Fraternal Interest Groups
On the Utility of the Revenge Motive
An Eye for an Eye A Tooth for a Tooth
An Honorable Resolution
The Decline of Kin Right in English Law
Calling the Killers to Account
Blameworthiness in Evolutionary Perspective
On Malice and Magic
The Insanity Defense
A Penalty to Fit the Crime?
On Cultural Variation
On the Annual Homicide Rates of Nations
On Culture and Imitative Violence
What Sorts of Homicides Are Most Variable in Their Frequency?
Subcultures of Violence
On the Legitimacy of Killing
Summary and Concluding Comments