Evolutionary Defences Against Homicide

Murder is defined as the deliberate killing of another person, whereas manslaughter is defined as the killing of another person without premeditation or hatred. In contrast, justifiable homicide refers to a legal killing, such as in self-defence or when an individual is operating in the course of duty, such as a police officer. In most nations, homicide is a severe offence penalised by law. In addition to criminal charges, relatives of homicide victims frequently suffer substantial mental trauma and may pursue justice through civil litigation.

What is Defences Against Homicide?

Homicide refers to the act of one person killing another person. It can be intentional or unintentional and may be classified as murder, manslaughter, or justifiable homicide, depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing. Making changes to one's surroundings and behaviour to reduce the risk of becoming a victim, as well as creating psychological and legal strategies to deal with the stress of a possible assault and defend oneself legally, can all be part of it. By adopting a comprehensive strategy that considers all of these variables, one can improve their odds of remaining secure and preventing or defending against homicide.

The Nature of Selection Pressures for Homicide Defense Adaptations

Homicide defence adaptations would have been chosen for a single purpose: to protect against the substantial inclusive fitness costs experienced by murder victims and their families. Adaptations against homicide could have achieved this by leading individuals to (1) avoid contexts that increase the likelihood of becoming a murder victim, (2) manipulate these contexts so they are no longer dangerous, (3) defend against homicidal attacks, and (4) mitigate the costs of homicide to genetic relatives after it has occurred.

Adaptations for Homicide

Homicide is a tactic for resolving or contributing to resolving disputes with other people. We suggest that humans have murder adaptations. According to Homicide Adaptation Theory, psychological adaptations for homicide were chosen because they contributed to more robust adaptive issue solutions than competing designs on average. Specific information processing adaptations in our brains were shaped expressly to scrutinise and sometimes create homicidal behaviour in adaptive issue scenarios comparable to those previously resolvable by homicide.

Although most animal researchers assume that other species have adaptations to kill conspecifics, no other theorists have explored the likely design of adaptations for homicide. However, some have suggested the possibility of adaptations for homicide, and others have argued that humans may have the instinct to kill.

The Nature of Selection Pressures for Homicide Adaptations

We are not claiming that homicide evolved to be the preferred technique for coping with a specific adaptive challenge in all circumstances. In most circumstances, the exceedingly high costs of murder would have exceeded the advantages. However, homicidal behaviour was the optimum answer for uncommon combinations of adaptive challenges and situations, providing selection pressure for the evolution of murder adaptations.

As a result, it is impossible to identify a single character in a scenario that will trigger homicidal psychology in every occurrence and every person. Mitigating environmental influences, heritable personality traits, and the calibration of psychological systems during development all contribute to the decision to commit homicide.

Many or all of these factors contributed to the selective forces that generated murder adaptations. Homicide adaptations are activated by a combination of signs indicating the presence of an adaptive problem ancestrally solved by murder. The presence or absence of these cues and the degree of their presence or absence can help us forecast when conspecific killing is more or less likely to occur.

However, without a thorough understanding of how human psychology causes homicidal conduct, it is impossible to anticipate whether murder will occur in any given circumstance. Making predictions about any behaviour is the same.

Dimensions of Defence against Homicidal Attacks

There are several dimensions to consider when defending against homicidal attacks −

Physical Defence

Learning physical methods to protect yourself against an assailant, such as martial arts or self-defence techniques, falls under this category. Physical defence can assist you in escaping or subduing an assailant and protecting yourself from injury.

Environmental Defence

Environmental defence entails modifying your surroundings to make them less susceptible to assault, such as putting security systems, lighting up gloomy areas, or avoiding isolated areas. Environmental defence can help deter assailants while also giving you more time to respond in the event of an assault.

Behavioural Defence

Being conscious of your behaviour and taking measures to reduce your susceptibility to assault, such as avoiding confrontations or arguments, being aware of your circumstances, and using assertive communication to de-escalate conflicts, are all examples of behavioural defence. Behavioural defence can help to deter potential assailants and decrease the probability of violent encounters.

Psychological Defence

Psychological defence entails building mental and emotional coping strategies to deal with the stress of a possible attack, such as practising relaxation methods, forming a support network of friends and family, and pursuing counselling or therapy. In a high-stress scenario, the psychological defence can help you remain calm and focused, increasing your odds of survival.

Overall, each aspect is essential in defending against homicidal assaults and adopting a comprehensive strategy that considers them can help you remain secure and protect yourself from damage.

Recurrent Adaptive Problems Solvable by Homicide

Homicide was hypothesised to help solve a wide range of adaptive challenges. Specifically, the killing of a conspecific could have contributed to

  • Preventing the exploitation, injury, rape, or killing of self, kin, mates, and coalitional allies by conspecifics in the present and future;

  • Reputation management against being perceived as easily exploited, injured, raped, or killed by conspecifics;

  • Defending resources, territory, shelter, and food from competitors;

  • Removing resource-absorbing or costly individuals who are not genetically related (e.g., stepchildren); and

  • Removing genetic relatives who obstruct investment in other vehicles better able to translate resources into genetic fitness. (e.g., deformed infants, the chronically ill or infirmed).


Homicide is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. Defending against homicide requires taking a holistic approach that considers physical, environmental, behavioural, psychological, and legal strategies to prevent or cope with a potential attack. By being aware of one's surroundings, taking precautions, and seeking help, if necessary, one can increase their chances of staying safe and protecting themselves from harm.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


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