Criminology Wiki

J. Phillippe Rushton’s theory of race and evolution explains about the origin of human evolution. According to Rushton humanity began in Africa about 200,000 years ago and migrated outward toward what is known now as Europe and Asia. In his theory he stated that as the further north the early humans traveled the more exposed to the colder climates and their evolution began to change in response to their surroundings. He stated that as a result their brain mass increased and developed slower rates of maturation and sexual hormones. The need for stability also became a factor of survival in the harsher climate. The winters were longer and colder, driving the need for food storage and stability between male and female relations to ensure the survival of their offspring. This theory stands to validate the drives behind petty theft and crimes in poor districts. Not much has changed from modern day slums and desperate attempts of poorer people to the survival tactics of the early humans almost two hundred thousand years ago. Yet the methods are different. Early humans used primitive forces in which to kill and they only killed for food. Today modern society no longer needs to hunt for food in the wild, but rather in the streets. A person may steal food from a store to feed himself or his family. The use of weapons is obsolete unless an obstacle becomes present that will hinder them from achieving their goal. Petty shoplifting usually derives of this force for the lower class and poverty levels. However his theory has received numerous critical debate because this theory does not explain organized and white collar crime. One particular criminologist, Michael Lynch, argued that Rushton ignores the fact that men are much more criminal than women even though there is little evidence to support the differences in intelligence or brain size between men and women.

The second theory is the R/K theory. This is derived from the theory of the evolution of the human species. R stands for the growth rate while K represents the caring capacity. R and K have no real definition, in fact they are algebraic representations for the equation of Verhulst’s population dynamics. In accordance with the evolutionary theory of crime it is believed that all organisms are located along a continuum based upon their reproductive drives. In this theory, those along the R line are in the rapidly reproducing category. They care little of their offspring and reproduce as many times as possible to ensure their legacy’s survival. This in turn is used to describe rape cases as the R trait is most commonly seen in male genders. At the other end of the spectrum is the K organisms. These organisms reproduce slowly and place great responsibility and care in their offspring. Evolutionary theorists believe that all males lean toward the R factor for the reason that they can reproduce faster and do not have to invest a lot of time into their offspring. Females are categorized on the K spectrum. They reproduce slower and place great time and effort into their children. Under this theory, R/K selection explains crime as those under the R spectrum tend to be more deceptive and cunning, thus males tend to partake in more criminal behavior and in general commit more violent crimes than those along the K spectrum. R/K Theory is believed to be the underlying theory for cases of rape, women brutality, and domestic abuse. It explains the male’s need for dominance and the drive behind sexual related crimes, this explains why rape is mainly a male crime with few female convicts as they do not fit the R category. Females tend to be more nurturing toward their offspring and carry a specific trait that prevents them from reproducing as fast as males, hence sexually oriented crimes are by far committed by males.

The third theory is known as the Cheater’s theory. This theory is designed to explain adultery and criminal actions such as crimes of passion. According to this theory it is believed that a subpopulation of males were evolved with genes that leaned them more toward sexual reproduction with little involvement in the offspring’s care. Their sole purpose was to be sexually active with as many females as possible to spread their genes into as many offspring to ensure their survival. These types of males are cunning, deceptive, and resourceful. They resort to mimicking and various other resources to gain sexual conquest with eligible females that may be able to support their offspring with as little involvement by the father as possible. This is believed to lead to future generations of children to produce low self-esteem, lower intelligence, and aggressive behavior. Thus ultimately leading to criminal intent and behavior. In accordance with evolutionary theory Dr. David P. Barash, a professor of Psychology at the University of Washington at Seattle, conducted research with his co-worker Judith eve Lipton on the evolution of the male gender in association with violence. In their studies they found that professions that involved violence such as soldiers, executioners, hunters, and slaughter house workers were overwhelming male. This would revert back to Rushton’s theory of race and evolution, showing that ever since the early man it has always been the male that has provided for the females, thus the male would have to display violence to obtain survival necessities. Even today it is still a common stereotype believed in modern society, the male is the breadwinner while the female is the homemaker. This tradition has been sent since early man and is believed that when threatened, crime happens. This would explain crimes against women such as rape, battery, slander, and discrimination.

Barash also makes a point of drawing attention to a wide variety of organizations involved in criminal activity are male, this includes mafias, gangs, and terrorists. In many cases it is believed that females are incapable of harboring the raw and violent nature that is needed to succeed in the organized crime world. All the notorious gangs such as MS 13, The Cripts, and The Bloods are largely male. Females do make up some of the gang population but none of them are in the higher ranks and are mostly there as a type of breeder, used to increase the gangs membership by birthright into the gang. Mafia’s and terrorists as well are largely male. The infamous Al Quata and Klu Klux Klan is strictly male since the two carry similar beliefs that women and other races or religions besides their own are inferior to them. Hate crimes and brutal murders are the calling card of these two terrorist organizations. For the KKK their targets range but are not limited to: Jews, African Americans, Indo-Asian, and several other ethnic groups. It has even been documented that they will strike out at their own if they are seen or even reported as being in contact with those of the non-white Christian.

Mafias tend to be more family oriented, they are very well organized and have strict codes of conduct in which to follow. They are not as common now as they were back in the early twenties to late eighties, but are still a most glamorized and well known type of criminal organization. Females as well rarely participate in any criminal nature of mafias. Although it is still a common belief that only humans have the ability of lethal force for means other than survival, this is not so. Barash and Lipton found that rape and lethal violence was not limited to human nature. After performing a study on various animals they found that chimpanzees were capable of murder, wolves killed one another in violent temperaments, and orangutans committed rape upon one another. Though these instances compared to human nature was very rare at best, yet still plausible. Their studies found that in most cases these violent acts were committed in relation to a survival need. In order to be higher in rank a wolf must slay the elder of the pack. This method could be similar to the tactic used in gangs, in order to move up, the obstacle at the top must be removed. Their studies also found that very few females are involved in violence in both human society and in nature. In their conclusion the nature of females is to be nurturing and to ensure the survival of their offspring, thus the violent nature would not be suitable among females. They backed their findings by using bird subjects, explaining that birds sexual organs were similar. Female and male birds had no visible sexual organs, however scientists have no difficulty determining female from male due to the explicit plumage of the males and their violent behavior when their territory or females are threatened. The scope of these theories is rather broad and in some cases scientific hypothesis. It is believed that primal urges never died down but simply reformatted itself to cope to modern day. We no longer have to hunt down our meals, we simply go to the grocery store to attain the proper ingredients for our meals. However the urge to kill never left our mentality. Instincts can never be completely erased from the human species, when a baby is born it depends on it’s instincts to find the mother’s milk. As a child grows instincts play an important role, crying is instinctive when a baby is hungry or requires attention. Senses tell the child wither the people around it are familiar or not. As the child grows these instincts are suppressed by the parents teaching the child the “correct” way of living. Values, morals, responsibilities, rational thinking, these are all human traits that in a way are designed to repress the instincts that are within every creature on the planet. Evolutionary theory suggests that humans sometimes lose the control to suppress these instincts. The urge to kill is still there but on a different scale. Instead of killing for food we kill for possession, turf, and emotion. We lose all that is taught to us and revert back to the primal urges. A man stealing food to feed himself or his family knows he is in the wrong according to morals and values, however hunger and primal instinct take over If he does not steal he cannot eat and if he cannot eat he cannot live, thus survival takes over (Rushton‘s theory). Yet the crime lord that holds a certain part of the city under his reign of terror is reverting back to primal instinct of territory control. Studies show several animals in nature have various ways of protecting their territory. Such examples are scents, bluffing, and as a last resort fighting. If fighting becomes involved in territory protection the animals usually stop just before either dies. Neither wants to kill another but they want their point proven by showing who is in charge. These spats of violence usually in with only minor injuries. However this is not so with human beings. The urge to control and be respected, wither by fear or other means, is proven in several murders or acts of terrorism against a community or specific race of people. Mafia and other means of organized crime use fear as a tool to keep others from challenging their territory or their power. If one is suspected of such he/she is usually made an example of by either being killed or terrorized. In conclusion, evolutionary theory is resorting back to primal instincts of crime. This theory is based on the understanding that human behavior, though may be one of the most intelligent compared to the other organisms on the planet, still falls prey to various primal instincts. The urges that lead to criminal activity is defined by this theory as evolutionary concept to ensure the survival of the gene pool, the most aggressive and reproducing males have always produced the greatest number of offspring. This leads to the prospect that human history is rooted on violence and aggression and explains why criminal intentions happen.


Barash, David P. and Judith Eve Lipton (2002). The Biology of Male-Female Differences: Evolution, Males, and Violence. The Chronicle of Higher Education,2, 175-200

Ellis, Lee (1986). Evolution and the Nonlegal equivalent of aggressive criminal behavior. Aggressive Behavior, 12, 1

Buss, David. M (1995). Evolutionary Psychology: A New Paradigm for Psychological Science. Psychological Inquiry. 6, 1, 1-30

Wilson, Margo and Daly, Martin (1997). Crime and Conflict: Homicide in Evolutionary Psychological Perspective. Crime and Justice. 22, 51-100

J. Philippe, Rushton (1995). Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from