A Test of an Evolutionary Hypothesis of Violence against Women: The Case of Sex Ratio

  • Emily A. Stone University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Psychology
Keywords: sex ratio aggression women warfare cross-cultural replication


A low sex ratio, where there are fewer men than women, has been associated with increasing rates of men’s same-sex aggression.  This is surprising, given the relative surplus of mates and presumably lowered mate competition in low sex ratio societies.  Two competing hypotheses—a “culture of violence” hypothesis and a functional, evolutionary hypothesis—may account for this finding.  The current research tests which of these hypotheses explains another facet of men’s aggression—violence against women. Correlations supported an evolutionary perspective of violence against women: higher sex ratio societies, where women are scarce, were significantly more likely to be tolerant toward rape and were significantly more likely to aggress against wives.  These results suggest refinement of a culture of violence perspective.  They also replicate and extend previous research on sex ratio imbalances and men’s aggression toward women.

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