Skip to main content Accessibility help

A history of war: The role of inter-group conflict in sex differences in aggression

  • Dominic D. P. Johnson (a1) and Mark van Vugt (a2)


Human aggression has two important dimensions: within-group aggression and between-group aggression. Archer offers an excellent treatment of the former only. A full explanation of sex differences in aggression will fail without accounting for our history of inter-group aggression, which has deep evolutionary roots and specific psychological adaptations. The causes and consequences of inter-group aggression are dramatically different for males and females.



Hide All
Alexander, R. D. (1987) The biology of moral systems. Hawthorne.
Bowles, S. (2006) Group competition, reproductive leveling, and the evolution of human altruism. Science 314:1569–72.
Browne, K. (2007) Co-ed combat: The new evidence that women shouldn't fight the nation's wars. Sentinel/Penguin USA.
Chagnon, N. A. (1988) Life histories, blood revenge, and warfare in a tribal population. Science 239:985–92.
Ellis, L., Hershberger, S. L., Field, E. M., Wersinger, S., Pellis, S., Hetsroni, A., Geary, D., Palmer, C. T., Karadi, K. & Hoyenga, K. B. (2008) Sex differences: Summarizing more than a century of scientific research. Psychology Press.
Gat, A. (2006) War in human civilization. Oxford University Press.
Guilaine, J. & Zammit, J. (2004) The origins of war: Violence in prehistory. Blackwell.
Johnson, D. D. P., McDermott, R., Barrett, E., Cowden, J., Wrangham, R., McIntyre, M. & Rosen, S. (2006) Overconfidence in wargames: Experimental evidence on expectations, aggression, gender and testosterone. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 273(1600):2513–20.
Keeley, L. H. (1996) War before civilization: The myth of the peaceful savage. Oxford University Press.
LeBlanc, S. & Register, K. E. (2003) Constant battles: The myth of the peaceful, noble savage. St. Martin's Press.
Leunissen, J. & van Vugt, M. (unpublished) I love the man in the uniform: Female attraction to male warriors. Unpublished manuscript: University of Kent.
McDermott, R. & Cowden, J. (2001) The effects of uncertainty and sex in a simulated crisis game. International Interactions 27:353–80.
McNeill, W. H. (1995) Keeping together in time: Dance and drill in human history. Harvard University Press.
Naimark, N. M. (1995) The Russians in Germany: A history of the Soviet zone of occupation, 1945–1949. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Navarrete, C. D., Fessler, D. M. T., Fleischman, D. S. & Geyer, J. (2009) Race bias tracks conception risk across the menstrual cycle. Psychological Science 20(6):661–65.
Potts, M. & Hayden, T. (2008) Sex and war: How biology explains warfare and terrorism and offers a path to a safer world. Benbella Books.
Rielly, R. J. (2000) Confronting the tiger: Small unit cohesion in battle. Military Review 80(6):6165.
Thayer, B. A. (2004) Darwin and international relations: On the evolutionary origins of war and ethnic conflict. University Press of Kentucky.
van Vugt, M., De Cremer, D. & Janssen, D. (2007) Gender differences in cooperation and competition: The male warrior hypothesis. Psychological Science 18:1923.
Wrangham, R. W. & Peterson, D. (1996) Demonic males: Apes and the origins of human violence. Bloomsbury.
Wrangham, R. W. & Wilson, M. L. (2004) Collective violence: Comparisons between youths and chimpanzees. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1036:233–56.

A history of war: The role of inter-group conflict in sex differences in aggression

  • Dominic D. P. Johnson (a1) and Mark van Vugt (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.