Masculine Behavioural Dynamics in Human Self-Domestication

About the seminar

Domestication related research suggests past selection against aggressive reactivity prompted a range of correlated changes in domesticated populations. These common shifts in morphology, behaviour, and physiology are referred to as ‘the domestication syndrome’. Given similarities between the domestication syndrome and noted human evolutionary changes, several researchers have proposed that humans are a ‘self-domesticated’ species. It is widely expected that human selfdomestication occurred via social selection against particularly aggressive males. This presentation will provide an overview of current discourse regarding human self-domestication and the social mechanisms proposed to explain it. I will then explore the influence of masculine behavioural dynamics in human social evolution using an Agent-Based Model which integrates the ‘challenge hypothesis’ of testosterone effects on status striving, with hypothesised selection against male reactive aggression. I close by discussing preliminary results of this model.


About the speaker

Ben Gleeson completed an Advanced Master of Biological Anthropology at ANU, in 2016, in which he explored the topic of Human Self-domestication via female mate choice against aggressive males. He has since commenced PhD study and published several papers on the topic of Human Self-domestication. He continues to pursue this research as part of the Human Ecology program at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.


This talk is presented as part of the 2021 Biological Anthropology Research Seminar series.

Date & time

Thu 11 Mar 2021, 4–5pm


Online webinar, free and open to all.


Ben Gleeson


Dr Stacey Ward


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