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Implications of the Neolithic Revolution for Male-Male Competition and Violent Conflict

Menelaos Apostolou


Ecological differences between societies that base their subsistence on hunting and gathering, as opposed to agriculture and animal husbandry, result in different rates of violent conflict. The aim of the present study is to test the hypothesis that pre-industrial societies which base their subsistence on agro-pastoralism have higher rates of internal and external violent conflict, and consequently experience stronger male-male competition, than societies which base their subsistence on hunting and gathering. Analysis of 19 variables from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample provides strong support for this hypothesis. Based on these findings, it is argued that the agropastoral revolution has resulted in the strengthening of male-male competition. The consequences on mate choice due to the mismatch between ancestral conditions, where violent male-male competition had been generally strong, and contemporary conditions where it is extremely weak, are also explored.

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