Although it’s unclear whether genetics or other factors are responsible – new study suggests that lethal violence is part of our evolutionary history.
Humans are predisposed to murder each other new research suggests although it remains unclear if it’s down to genetics or other factors.
Researchers from Spain have found that a tendency to bump off members of the same species is particularly common among primates and have estimated that around 2% of human deaths at the origin of our species were down to such lethal spats.
‘What it is saying in the broadest terms is that humans have evolved strategies for solving problems with violence’ said Mark Pagel professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Reading – who was not involved in the research.
But the authors add – the impact of society can greatly modify how aggressive humans are with the proportion of human deaths due to people fighting between themselves fluctuating over mankind’s history.
‘Lethal violence is part of our evolutionary history but not carved in stone in ‘our genes’ said José María Gómez – first author of the study from the Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (EEZA) in Spain.
‘At least to some extent – the way humans organise in societies influences our levels of lethal violence.”
The question of human violence has puzzled thinkers for centuries – from Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century to contemporary psychologists such as Jared Diamond and Steven Pinker – the Johnstone professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature.