Bargaining power and adolescent aggression: The role of fighting ability, coalitional strength, and mate value
Basic models of animal conflict show that animals with more bargaining power can expect a larger share of resources and more frequently deploy aggression when challenged. Bargaining power comes from multiple sources including formidability (e.g. personal fighting ability) and cooperative value (e.g. mate value). Here, we apply this basic conceptual framework to human adolescents and test seven core hypotheses derived from this paradigm on a large sample of Swiss students (N = 1447; 15–17 years old). Three components of bargaining power were measured in males and females: fighting ability, coalitional strength, and mate value. Fighting ability and mate value reliably predicted aggression, aggressive attitudes, and delinquent behavior in both boys and girls. The effect of fighting ability on aggression was predictably larger and more robust in males than females. Coalitional strength also reliably predicted aggressive bargaining in boys but less consistently in girls. Regression analyses showed that the effect of each component of bargaining power was independent and survived numerous controls. Results support the thesis that individual differences in aggressive behavior result, in part, from individual differences in bargaining power.
Evolution and Human Behavior
Developmental Psychology and Ageing