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Evolutionary Theory and Crime
Racquel Walsh
Master of Social Work Walden University
SOCW 6135: Criminal Behavior
Dr. Monica Levine-Sauberman
December 26, 2021
Having an understanding of what the evolutionary theory is as well as how it is
associated with the behaviors of criminals can give insight into an individual’s genealogy.
Studying the behavior(s) of criminals is very vital. The study of criminal behavior has become
very important in regards to the increase in violence such as increased murder rates, community
shootings, and school shootings. Being able to have an understanding as to why these events are
happening is very important, especially in regards to preventing these crimes from happening in
the future.
The crimes selected to relate to the evolutionary theory are rape and murder. Bureau of
Justice Statistics defines rape as “forced sexual intercourse including both psychological
coercion as well as physical force”. Murder can be considered as be a very violent crime that
included the taking of the life of an individual. The Bureau of Justice Statistic defines murder as
the “willful killing of one human being by another.” Murdering an individual allows another
individual to gain and feel a sense of authority and gain materialistic position. Both rape and
murder are crimes that can be noted as being exploitative resource acquisitions. “Exploitative
resource acquisition entails procuring resources by taking them from other people through tactics
of threat, coercion, force, terrorism, deception, manipulation, violence or murder” (Buss &
Duntely, 2012).
The evolutionary theory depicts how certain traits that are passed down from one
generation to another generation. Instincts of a predator in regards to survival are a
representation of the control and dominance of another individual. With consideration to the
evolutionary theory, there are various reasons as to why an individual may commit the crime of
murder. Some of those reasons are acquiring material possession, a sense of power/authority,
taking the victim's possessions, money, and/or land (Buss & Duntely 2012). In some cases, the
crime of murder is committed as a rite of passage. For example gang initiation by requiring an
individual to murder someone. Rape in regards to the evolutionary theory, would have to be
viewed as a being the primary sexual innate nature of men, as well as the need to have a sense
power and authority over another individual (Archer & Vaughn, 2001). An example of this
would be the case of Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro kidnapped three young women,
raped them, and then help them against their will by which he exerted his dominance and power
over the three women. Castro had the belief that he had the right to hold the young women
against their will and have children with them. One of the women that Castro held hostage got
pregnant 5 times while she was held captive, but she lost all 5 of the children due to the constant
beatings she endured from Castro. The evolutionary theory as it relates to crimes does account
for all of the various behaviors of criminals. The evolutionary theory does not give consideration
to environmental factors and how it can influence genetics or the likelihood that an individual
will engage in criminal activities or adapt to criminal behavior. I do believe that environmental
factors can have more of an influence on criminal behavior than genetic factors. Evolutionary
theory tends to only focus on genetics. In my opinion, the evolutionary theory does have some
validity, however, it does not provide a sole explanation in regard to criminal behavior. In a
sense, the evolutionary theory could possibly lead an individual to believe that certain
individuals are born evil and their environment does not have any influence at all whatsoever.
Archer, J., & Vaughan, A. E. (2001). Evolutionary theories of rape. Psychology, Evolution &
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Violent crimes.
Buss, D. M., & Duntley, J. D. (2012). Murder by design: The evolution of homicide.
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