Within-family violence occurs not only toward mates, but also toward step-children. Step-fathers have no adaptive interest in the survival of their (genetically unrelated) step-children. Indeed, supporting another man's child with one's own resources contravenes a man's evolutionary interests. Therefore, we should expect that men would be much more likely to commit violence, even murder, against their step-children than against their biological children. The figures in support of this hypothesis are stunning. Whereas abuse of step-children is seven times higher than abuse of biological children, fatal abuse is 100 times higher (Daly & Wilson, 1996).
Wilson, M. I., & Daly, M. (1996). Male sexual proprietariness and violence against wives. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5, 2-7.
Last modified May 1998
Visited times since July 2001
Home to Evolutionary Psychology
Home to Great Ideas in Personality