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Parasite stress promotes homicide and child maltreatment

By R. Thornhill and Corey L. Fincher

Abstract

Researchers using the parasite-stress theory of human values have discovered many cross-cultural behavioural patterns that inform a range of scholarly disciplines. Here, we apply the theory to major categories of interpersonal violence, and the empirical findings are supportive. We hypothesize that the collectivism evoked by high parasite stress is a cause of adult-on-adult interpersonal violence. Across the US states, parasite stress and collectivism each positively predicts rates of men's and women's slaying of a romantic partner, as well as the rate of male-honour homicide and of the motivationally similar felony-related homicide. Of these four types of homicide, wealth inequality has an independent effect only on rates of male-honour and felony-related homicide. Parasite stress and collectivism also positively predict cross-national homicide rates. Child maltreatment by caretakers is caused, in part, by divestment in offspring of low phenotypic quality, and high parasite stress produces more such offspring than low parasite stress. Rates of each of two categories of the child maltreatment—lethal and non-lethal—across the US states are predicted positively by parasite stress, with wealth inequality and collectivism having limited effects. Parasite stress may be the strongest predictor of interpersonal violence to date

Publisher: 'The Royal Society'
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0052
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:66235
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