Why We Fight—In this special issue we consider the deep evolutionary roots of violent confrontation. We trace the trajectory of violence and war throughout history, exploring racism, ethnic conflicts, the rise of terrorism, and the possible future of armed conflicts. We also consider our innate capacity to mediate conflict and our ability to achieve—and live in—peace. Read the Full Introduction >>

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Parsing Terrorism

Terrorism research has expanded rapidly since 9/11, shifting its focus from human pathology to the analysis of how rational people interact with violent groups.

The Battle Over Violence

Under the long shadow of Rousseau and Hobbes, scientists debate whether civilization spurred or inhibited warfare—and whether we have the data to know.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Seeking to impress both gods and humans, early state societies across the globe displayed their power by ritually killing human victims.

Skull of a Sacrificed Child

Watch author Ann Gibbons talk about her story on human sacrifice around the world.


Roots of Racism

Humans everywhere divide the world into "us" and "them." Why are we so tribal?

Civilization's Double-Edged Sword

Recent archaeological finds of ancient massacres raise questions about how violence changed as societies became more complex.

Gender and Violence

Researchers are probing links between the status of women in a society and its propensity toward war.

Drone Wars

Are remotely piloted aircraft changing the nature of war?
Terrorism TimelineEthnicity & Conflict - Panel DiscussionScience Voices


Prevention of Mass Violence

Science can clarify factors that affect mass violence and inform integrative solutions that lead to cooperation.

Ancestral Hierarchy and Conflict

Conflict, and its resolution, were present in the ancestor we share with our closest primate relatives.

Adapting to a Multicultural Future

Evolved propensities stumble when individuals who are simultaneously members of several distinct groups mix.

Ethnicity and Conflict: Theory and Facts

Ethnic friction depends on the number and size of the ethnic groups.

Climate Change and Violent Conflict

Current debates over the relation between climate change and conflict originate in a lack of data as well as the complexity of pathways connecting the two phenomena.

The Antiquity of Empathy

Empathy has deep evolutionary roots.

Life Without War

Divergent cultures have reduced conflict by following development of similar peace systems.

The Group Self

In some contexts, we see ourselves as individuals, in others, as part of a group.

Religious and Sacred Imperatives in Human Conflict

Religious and sacred values can be used to reinforce ingroup status and motivate both cooperation and conflict.

Modeling Armed Conflicts

Models of armed conflict have evolved throughout the years, addressing different conflict scenarios and incorporating various modeling techniques.

Are We Winning the War against Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

Religious and sacred values can be used to reinforce ingroup status and motivate both cooperation and conflict.

Warriors, Levelers, and the Role of Conflict in Human Social Evolution

Adoption of whole-sale (and often beneficial) changes to society may have required large-scale conflict.
Policy Forum

Parochialism as a Central Challenge in Counterinsurgency

Current U.S. practice in Afghanistan may reify social divisions, undermining institutions critical to postwar stability.

See Also:

Book Review
Science Podcast

Special Show

Conflict in our primate ancestors, the origins of racism, and peace systems.
Science LIVE

Why Do We Fight?

Tune in Thursday, 17 May at 3.00pm EST.
Science Careers

Winning Over Hearts Means Understanding Minds

For scientists who study conflict's motivations and repercussions, the brain is the battlefield that matters.