Why Do Men Rape? An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective
William F. McKibbin, Todd K. Shackelford, Aaron T. Goetz, and Valerie G. Starratt
Florida Atlantic University
Rape of women by men has occurred throughout recorded history and across cultures. In this article, we discuss rape from an evolutionary psychological perspective. Evolutionary psychology is a powerful heuristic tool that allows researchers to develop and test novel hypotheses about complex behaviors such as rape. Some researchers have argued that men have evolved psychological mechanisms that motivate them to rape in specific contexts. We discuss evidence consistent with this claim, and argue that a more nuanced view of men’s rape behavior is necessary. We propose that it may be useful to characterize rapists as belonging to one of several types, distinguished by individual differences as well as by the circumstances in which they are predicted to commit rape. We discuss research evidence in support of each rapist type, as well as the need for future research. Finally, we discuss
research concerning women’s rape-avoidance psychology and behavior.