Discuss one or more evolutionary explanations of group display in humans. (4 marks + 16 marks)

You should outline and evaluate relevant explanations, such as xenophobia and territoriality in sports, and mate competition and group commitment in warfare. Do not write too much AO1 material here: AO1 should only make up around 20% of the essay.

Xenophobia is often present in sports events, with racist  chants and signals often exhibited in the crowds of football matches. Many psychologists believe that natural selection has favoured the genes which cause humans to be altruistic towards members of their own group but intolerant towards outsiders. Another explanation for the evolution of group displays in sport is based on territoriality. Aggressive displays when defending territory may have been adaptive for our ancestors because they allowed groups to defend valuable resources associated with their territory.

Foldesi has provided evidence to support the link between xenophobia and violent displays among Hungarian football crowds. He found that the racist conduct of a core of extremist supporters led to an increase in spectators' violence in general.

There are real-world applications of research into the link between sports and xenophobia. Many football teams have taken step to minimise xenophobia within sports. Some football teams have also made contributions to local ethnic communities and have donated to anti-racism charities.

The 'home advantage' in sports events is thought to be due to territoriality: players are more determined not to lose in their own territory than in another team's. However, football fans have rated crowd support as the most significant factor contributing to a home advantage. This idea has been disputed, as studies have found that a larger crowd does not give the team an advantage. This supports the evolutionary notion that the home advantage is due to territoriality.

This has been supported by further research. One study analysed the results of several professional basketball matches performed with crowds and without crowds (due to a measles epidemic). They found that the absence of home crowds actually increased performance of the teams. This suggests that the home advantage is not due to crowd support, and so is likely due to territoriality, supporting the evolutionary view.

Warfare is another aggressive display that may be explained in terms of evolution. When men compete with each other for mates, and those who do well in battle gain access to female mate. This because displays of aggressiveness and bravery are attractive to females. Another evolutionary explanation for warfare is that it promotes group solidarity. The costliness of permanent displays such as scars and mutilation serve as signals of commitment to the group.

Research has supported the importance of aggressive displays in determining the sexual attractiveness of male warriors. Leunissen found that military men have greater sex appeal, but only if they have been observed showing bravery in combat.

Some psychologists believe that aggressive displays are not due to biological compulsions but are due to environmental changes. War emerged when humans shifted from a nomadic existence to a settled one where they were tied to agriculture or fishing sites. Because of this, people had to fight in order to protect these sites. So rather than being an evolutionary adaptation, warfare may have emerged as a rational response to a changing lifestyle.

Explanations of warfare that are based on mating success or commitment fail to explain the extreme levels of cruelty that are often found in human wars yet not among non-human species. Evolutionary psychologists struggle to explain why humans torture or mutilate their opponents when they no longer pose a threat. This may be more a consequence of deindividuation than of evolutionary adaptation.

Evolutionary explanations of warfare struggle to explain the role of women. Women have often played a very important role in warfare. For example, the Dahomey Amazons were an all-female army who conquered much of North-West Africa between the 17th and 19th centuries. However, evolutionary explanations struggle to explain this, as women would have considerably less to gain from fighting, and more to lose (in terms of their reproductive capacity). Our understanding of displays of warfare is largely limited to males.