/ Last Modified August 22, 2013

New Study: Warfare May Not Be Part of Human Nature

An adjunct research scientists at the UA led investigation, says group-on-group violence is relatively new.

fry bones spotlight (PHOTO: Douglas Fry)


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Warfare has been considered an inevitable part of human nature. However, a new study disagrees.

Research led by Douglas Fry, an adjunct research scientist with the UA's Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, suggests wars are a 'recent' phenomenon.

"Warfare is something that is not particularly old," said Fry, who is also a professor at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. "it is very much dependent on cultural circumstances and social organization: settling down, population increase, and these...changes that have occurred...in the last 10,000 years or so."

Fry's suggested lethal aggression was infrequent among forager-gatherers, and violence didn't take regular group-on-group character until people settled down in larger, more complex hierarchical societies.

The study is titled 'Lethal Aggression in Mobile Forager Bands and Implications for the Origins of War,' and it appeared in the July 19 edition of Science magazine.

"...if we jump all the way to current-day society, we...easily see this in terms of national identity," Fry said. "(Everyone) perceives themselves as a member of a particular nation, and that's a group identity. If you...think, 'What would it be like if we didn't have these borders, these names of nations and these identities?' There would be a lack of identification to fight over."

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