David M. Buss, a University of Texas psychology professor, applies evolutionary theory to explain modern domestic violence and other phenomena that sometimes turn into murder, reports the Casey Journalism Center. As he writes in “The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill” (Penguin Press, 2005), his research carries mind-bending implications for trying to explain violent and defensive behaviors within families, between lovers, and among strangers.
Buss “came to understand homicide as a survival strategy hardwired into the human mind. It is not a contemporary phenomenon derived from watching violent television programs, reading sadistic pornography, ingesting narcotics or growing up in poverty,” writes Steve Weinberg for the Casey Center. Murder has been so constant for thousands of years Buss says “the real mystery is…why killing has not been more prevalent.” He suggests that “the evolution of the psychology of murder has been like an arms race; in response to the threat of murder, we've developed a well-honed set of defenses against it, and they have acted as powerful deterrents.” He debunks a typical explanation for domestic violence, “usually attributed to pathology, cultural values of macho men or patriarchal societies in which men are united” in oppressing women.