23/01/2012 06:52 GMT

Male Sex Drive To Blame For World's Conflict And Violence, Say Scientists

The male sex drive is the root of most of the world’s biggest conflicts, from football hooliganism and gang violence to world wars, claim a team of scientists.

According to researchers from Oxford’s Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, men are shaped by evolution to be aggressive towards anyone they view as an ‘outsider’ and this ‘male warrior’ behaviour derives from their natural instinct to 'improve status' and attract more mates for reproduction.

Following research into every culture throughout history, the psychological study found that men have always been more likely to use violence when confronted with unfamiliar faces than women, who in contrast, are naturally equipped to ‘tend and befriend’, say researchers.

This tribal attitude is down to the male evolutionary need to boost his chances of reproducing and also because men have a stronger sense of group identity, especially with those who are in competition with rivals.

Scientists claim that this territorial behaviour is very similar to that of chimpanzees.

Over time, male conflict has evolved from scraps and combat with rival groups, to full-scale wars between countries and empires, as well as smaller battles between rival football teams, gangs and religion-motivated clashes.

"Conflict between rival groups of men has presented opportunities to gain access to mates, territory and increased status. We believe this has resulted through - natural selection in an evolved psychology amongst men to initiate and display acts of inter-group aggression," says professor Mark van Vugt from the study, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

The difference between men and women is also significant in these findings, claims Professor Van Vugt.

"The male continuously monitors the borders of their territory. If a female from another group comes along, she may be persuaded to emigrate to his group. When a male strays too far, however, he is likely to be brutally beaten and possibly killed."