Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Individuals that Impose Costs

  • Daniel RedheadEmail author
  • Joey Cheng
  • Rick O’Gorman
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3572-1



In humans, individuals that impose costs are those who signal both an ability and a willingness to inflict harm upon others.


Traits that successfully signal an ability and willingness to impose costs comprise a dominance profile. Attaining social rank through dominance is reliant on an individual’s propensity to induce fear of psychological, material, and physical costs that the individual may impose upon their conspecifics (Buss and Duntley 2006; Chance 1967). Dominance has a deep phylogenetic legacy and likely persisted due to the prevalence of intergroup conflict throughout human prehistory that created a selection pressure for both physical and behavioral formidability (Manson and Wrangham 1991; Wrangham and Peterson 1996).

Physical Formidability, Resource Control, and the Ability to Impose Costs

Given the importance of discerning who is most able to inflict harm upon others, it seems that humans have...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of human behavior, ecology and cultureMax Planck institute for evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin Kniffin
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA