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Hamburg, D.A. (1973). An Evolutionary and Developmental Approach to Human Aggressiveness. Psychoanal Q., 42:185-196.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:185-196

An Evolutionary and Developmental Approach to Human Aggressiveness

David A. Hamburg, M.D.

It is a privilege to take part in an interdisciplinary symposium on the topic of aggression; it is inherently an interdisciplinary topic (Gilula and Daniels, 1969). My discussion will focus on the aggressive behavior of chimpanzees in their natural habitat, and the application of such observations to the evolution of human aggression.

Why should one study other animals if one is primarily interested in understanding man? Principally to obtain an evolutionary perspective in which we attempt to reconstruct how man came to be the way he is, and to search for subtle legacies of his ancient past that may have been transmitted both through biological and social channels. Such studies should attempt to delineate broad trends in evolution, asking whether certain characteristics of vertebrate, mammalian, and primate organisms are maintained as we draw closer to man. Building on these broad evolutionary trends, we pay special attention to the behavior patterns of man's closest relatives, such as the chimpanzee. If a behavioral trend of primate evolution is strengthened in these closely related species, it should orient us to investigate these characteristics as possible underlying components of human behavior.

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