The evolutionary psychology of criminal behaviour

Aurelio José Figueredo, Paul Robert Gladden, Zachary Hohman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Etiological theories of criminal behaviour are reviewed, compared, and contrasted, stemming from both standard social science and from evolutionary social science. Those stemming from standard social science include classical theories, positivist theories, functionalist theories, cultural, sub-cultural, and social learning theories, control theories, cognitive theories, and traditional personality theories. Those stemming from evolutionary social science include behavioural genetic theories, reactive heritability and epigenetic theories, sexual selection theories, differential parental investment theories, competitive disadvantage theories, frequency-dependent selection theories, pathogen stress theories, and life history theories. We propose that most of these theories are mutually contradictory to a minimal degree, mostly differing on matters of detail as well as in the conflation of proximate and ultimate levels of causation. As an alternative to this chaotic state of affairs, we propose a cross-disciplinary integration based on the inclusive framework provided by Life History Theory. A wide array of empirical evidence is provided in support of this view as the most inclusive and integrative framework currently available, as well as the most useful framework for helping to explain many of the previous findings within an evolutionary context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationApplied Evolutionary Psychology
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191731358
ISBN (Print)9780199586073
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012


  • Antagonistic social schemata
  • Interpersonal aggression
  • Life history strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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