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Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2014 (English)In: Evolution and human behavior, ISSN 1090-5138, Vol. 35, no 6, 481-488 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Criminality is highly costly to victims and their relatives, but often also to offenders. From an evolutionary viewpoint, criminal behavior may persist despite adverse consequences by providing offenders with fitness benefits as part of a successful alternative mating strategy. Specifically, criminal behavior may have evolved as a reproductive strategy based on low parental investment reflected in low commitment in reproductive relationships. We linked data from nationwide total population registers in Sweden to test if criminality is associated with reproductive success. Further, we used several different measures related to monogamy to determine the relation between criminal behavior and alternative mating tactics. Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense. Criminal offenders also had more reproductive partners, were less often married, more likely to get remarried if ever married, and had more often contracted a sexually transmitted disease than non-offenders. Importantly, the increased reproductive success of criminals was explained by a fertility increase from having children with several different partners. We conclude that criminality appears to be adaptive in a contemporary industrialized country, and that this association can be explained by antisocial behavior being part of an adaptive alternative reproductive strategy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 35, no 6, 481-488 p.
Keyword [en]
Criminality, Antisocial behavior, Pair bonding, Mating strategy
National Category
Psychology Biological Sciences Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109801DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.06.007ISI: 000343356400005OAI: diva2:783570


Available from: 2015-01-26 Created: 2014-12-01 Last updated: 2015-01-26Bibliographically approved

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Temrin, Hans
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