The Evolutionary Psychology of Stalking
- This is relatively knew research on the evolutionary psychology of
stalking conducted by Dr. David Buss and his graduate student.
David Buss proposes a stalking adaptation theory where humans have
evolved adaptations designed for stalking in contexts in which the
benefits outweigh the costs.
In a dyadic (two-party) setting, it is proposed that specialized
stalking adaptations help solve adaptive problems in this particular
dyadic setting where one person seeks to initiate a relationship;
maintain a relationship; escalate a relationship; regain a
relationship; prevent or disrupt a relationship; and in some cases to
"protect". Specifically, stalking can help one obtain a new mate,
re-obtain a prior mate, facilitate mate poaching, facilitate mate
interference, facilitate mate retention, facilitate mate assessment,
and stalking can be used to track intrasexual rivals in the service of
Victims of stalking are disproportionately women. Stalking poses
costs on the victim (usually the ex-mate) for re-mating. It may also
incur costs on a prospective partner of the ex-mate. This is proposed
to occur in what David Buss calls "Triadic sexual conflict", which is
part of his theory of triadic antagonistic coevolution. Also,
stalking seems to be predominate in triadic (involving three
Stalking can be a costly strategy in that the victims or their kin can
retaliate and this may include a violent retribution. Stalking can
have the opposite effect of what is desired. Therefore, stalking
should occur to solve very specific adaptive problems.
So how does stalking operate? In general, stalking sets up an operant
negative reinforcement contingency. For example, the stalker would
repeatedly inflict costs on victim (aversive stimulus). When the
stalking victim gives into the stalker's demand, the stalker removes
aversive stimulus (negative reinforcement). Giving into the stalker's
demand positively reinforces the stalker's behavior.
David Buss found that women predominately experience stalking at a
little over 60% in a sample that consists of 2,431 subjects. Buss
also found that women experience a longer mean of stalking time at
about 120 days versus 85-90 days for men. In addition, Buss found
that the majority of stalking cases in his sample were mating related
and fall heavily in mate acquisition and mate re-acquisition. Women
also experience more fear from stalking than men. In particular, 65%
of the women in the sample feared being stalked by their ex-mates.
Furthermore, stalking can be successful at least some of the time. 30
percent of both sexes gave into the demands of their stalkers. A
little over 15% of women actually dated their stalkers and a little
over 13% of men dated their stalkers.
Some of the most common anti-stalking strategies consist of completely
ignoring your stalker, minimizing contact as much as possible, and
unfortunately, giving into the stalker's demands.
Who is most susceptible to stalking? Women who are high in
extraversion and agreeableness.
What is the evidence for a specialized design of stalking? Well,
people appear to have specific mechanisms for stalking (e.g.,
predictable contexts, predictable targets, etc.). Also, as mentioned
before, stalking is sometimes successful. Victims have specific
anti-stalking fear and strategies. Finally, certain individuals may
be more likely to be targeted by stalkers.
This is most of what Dr. Buss lectured on. I don't believe there are
actually any articles out there specifically on this matter. I
couldn't find an article that resembles this kind of work on stalking.