Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Marital Status

  • Lucas OdomEmail author
  • Melissa McDonald
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_863-1



Males compete for access to female parental investment. Males in long-term relationships have less to gain from that competition, whereas males without ready mating access have much to gain and little to lose. This provides an explanation for why young, unmarried men are the primary perpetrators of violent and deadly aggression.


Reproductive fitness is the primary unit of success in the evolutionary game of life. Limited resources and mating opportunities lead to intense competition where the winners successfully pass on their genes to the next generation and the losers face reproductive oblivion. Given the high stakes, it should not be surprising that competition over members of the opposite sex has resulted in violent and deadly encounters. The main participants in these acts of violence tend to be young unmarried men looking to gain respect and resources to improve their reproductive...

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Melissa McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA