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Apr 02, 2014 10:11 AM EDT

Male-Dominated Communities Are Not More Violent

Despite "conventional wisdom" and scientific arguments claiming that societies with more men than women will become more violent, a new study suggests that a male-biased sex ratio does not lead to more crime.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that rates of rape, sexual assault and homicide are actually lower in societies with more men than women. This contrasts evolutionary theories that predict males will compete vigorously for the limited number of mates doesn't bear out when they outnumber females, according to a press release.

"Here, we untangle the logic behind the widely held notion that in human societies where men outnumber women, there will be more violence," Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, a University of California, Davis professor of anthropology and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Researchers who conducted this study took their lead from recent developments in evolutionary theory. These new ideas challenge the claim that when in abundance males will necessarily resort to violent.

Researchers said the reason for this unexpected outcome has something to do with supply and demand.

"You may actually adjust your behavior according to the circumstances," Kristin Liv Rauch, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the paper, said in a statement. "When men are abundant, rather than rare, they often switch their strategy to compete in nonviolent rather than violent ways. They tend to pursue females in more of a courtship manner that would lead to long-term relationships and marriage, in an attempt to secure a partner in a depleted market."

However, they said it is true that most perpetrators and victims of violence are men.

"It isn't surprising that arguments of more men leading to more violence dominate discussions, this could create such an effect," Ryan Schacht, a co-author of the paper and doctoral researcher at University of California, Davis, said in a statement. "But the evidence does not support a relationship between violence and a short supply of women," he said.

The findings were published in the April issue of Trends In Ecology & Evolution.

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