Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-2020


Cultural and reproductive success and the causes of war: A Yanomamö perspective. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41 (2020), pp 183–187.

DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.02.008


Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission


Inter-group competition including warfare is posited to be a key force in human evolution (Alexander, 1990; Choi & Bowles, 2007; Wrangham, 1999). Chagnon's research on the Yanomamö is seminal to understanding warfare in the types of societies characteristic of human evolutionary history. Chagnon's empirical analyses of the hypothesis that competition for status or cultural success is linked to reproduction (Irons, 1979) and warfare attracted considerable controversy. Potential causal factors include “blood revenge”, mate competition, resource shortages or inequality, and peace-making institutions (Boehm, 1984; Keeley's (1997); Meggitt, 1977; Wiessner and Pupu, 2012; Wrangham et al., 2006). Here we highlight Chagnon's contributions to the study of human warfare.