Aggression and violence around the world: A model of CLimate, Aggression, and Self-control in Humans

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 40:1-63 (2017)
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Abstract

Worldwide there are substantial differences within and between countries in aggression and violence. Although there are various exceptions, a general rule is that aggression and violence increase as one moves closer to the equator, which suggests the important role of climate differences. While this pattern is robust, theoretical explanations for these large differences in aggression and violence within countries and around the world are lacking. Most extant explanations focus on the influence of average temperature as a factor that triggers aggression, or the notion that warm temperature allows for more social interaction situations in which aggression is likely to unfold. We propose a new model, CLimate, Aggression, and Self-control in Humans, that helps us to understand differences within and between countries in aggression and violence in terms of differences in climate. Lower temperatures, and especially larger degrees of seasonal variation in climate, call for individuals and groups to adopt a slower life history strategy, a greater focus on the future, and a stronger focus on self-control. The CLASH model further outlines that slow life strategy, future orientation, and strong self-control are important determinants of inhibiting aggression and violence. We also discuss how CLASH differs from other recently developed models that emphasize climate differences for understanding conflict. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and societal importance of climate in shaping individual and societal differences in aggression and violence.

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