Aggression and risk-taking as adaptive implementations of fast life history strategy

Hui Jing Lu, Lei Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Within the evolutionary life history (LH) framework, aggression and risk-taking are adaptive implementations of a fast LH strategy to adapt to environmental unsafety and unpredictability. Based on a longitudinal sample of 198 Chinese adolescents living in rural areas, half of whom were separated from their parents, this study tested LH hypotheses about aggression and risk-taking in relation to safety constraints in the childhood living environments. The results showed that proxies of environmental unpredictability, including parental separation, were positively associated with aggression and risk-taking and negatively associated with slow LH strategy, which in turn was negatively associated with aggression and risk-taking. Children separated from their parents scored lower on slow LH strategies and higher on aggression and risk-taking. These findings support the evolutionary assumption that human development responds to safety cues through behavioral implementations of LH strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12827
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019


  • aggression
  • child and adolescent development
  • environmental unpredictability
  • fast and slow life history strategies
  • risk-taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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