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Title:The impact of yesterday’s territorial shortages on today’s adapted mind
Author(s):Powers, Matthew Aderhold
Director of Research:Vasquez, John
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Vasquez, John
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Diehl, Paul; Mondak, Jeffery; Kuklinski, James
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Human Territoriality, Aggression, Evolutionary Psychology
Abstract:My dissertation adopts an evolutionary psychological perspective to argue that, given the relative dearth of territory that punctuated much of human evolutionary history, homo sapiens are endowed with an evolved psychological mechanism (EPM) to view threats concerning territory as especially salient and worthy of aggressive retorts. I go on to contend that variation in individuals’ ontogenetic contexts—such as sex differences between males and females—and immediate situational inputs—such as numerical superiority concerns or personal assessments of physical strength—can in some instances moderate and in other instances exacerbate the influence of this territorial EPM on conspecific aggressive behavior. My empirical tests show that while individuals do indeed demonstrate greater levels of both interpersonal and foreign policy aggression following territorial threats than non-territorial threats, the aforementioned role of one’s ontogenetic contexts and immediate situational inputs are also significant. For example, in regards to ontogenetic context, while males demonstrate greater aggression than females during offensive territorial encounters, this sex-based difference disappears during defensive territorial threats. Further, one’s immediate situational input also matters in the sense that aggression levels vary depending on whether the territorial resource under dispute was evolutionary essential for survive (e.g., water) or only gained importance relatively late in human evolution (e.g., gold). Overall, my results demonstrate that many outgrowths of territorial political violence in today’s world can often be understood via an evolutionary psychological rationale.
Issue Date:2018-12-02
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/102818
Rights Information:© 2018 by Matthew A. Powers. All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-07
Date Deposited:2018-12


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