Warlike and Peaceful Societies: The Interaction of Genes and Culture - cover image


Agner Fog

Published On





  • English

Print Length

364 pages (viii + 356)


Paperback156 x 19 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.76" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 21 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.81" x 9.21")


Paperback1133g (39.97oz)
Hardback1519g (53.58oz)



OCLC Number





  • JMH
  • GTJ
  • JWA
  • JHM
  • HPS


  • PSY031000
  • POL010000
  • SOC026040
  • PSY053000
  • POL012000


  • HM626
  • F64


  • sociology
  • collective psychology
  • evolutionary psychology
  • regality theory
  • anthropology
  • ecology
  • conflict
  • security
Thoth logoPowered by Thoth.

Warlike and Peaceful Societies

The Interaction of Genes and Culture

Are humans violent or peaceful by nature? We are both. In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, Agner Fog presents a ground-breaking new argument that explains the existence of differently organised societies using evolutionary theory. It combines natural sciences and social sciences in a way that is rarely seen. According to a concept called regality theory, people show a preference for authoritarianism and strong leadership in times of war or collective danger, but desire egalitarian political systems in times of peace and safety. These individual impulses shape the way societies develop and organise themselves, and in this book Agner argues that there is an evolutionary mechanism behind this flexible psychology. Incorporating a wide range of ideas including evolutionary theory, game theory, and ecological theory, Agner analyses the conditions that make us either strident or docile. He tests this theory on data from contemporary and ancient societies, and provides a detailed explanation of the applications of regality theory to issues of war and peace, the rise and fall of empires, the mass media, economic instability, ecological crisis, and much more. Warlike and Peaceful Societies: The Interaction of Genes and Culture draws on many different fields of both the social sciences and the natural sciences. It will be of interest to academics and students in these fields, including anthropology, political science, history, conflict and peace research, social psychology, and more, as well as the natural sciences, including human biology, human evolution, and ecology.


[...] it presents a valuable overview of the extensive literature on the societal correlates of modern warfare and makes a convincing, and timely, case for the deceptive use of the threat of war by populists or budding dictators.

Carel P. van Schaik, University of Zurich

"What’s war got to do with it?". Adaptive Behaviour (1059-7123), vol. 26, no. 4, 2018. doi:10.1177/1059712318771975

Full Review

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1. A different kind of social science

1.2. Overview of the book

2. The Theory of Regal and Kungic Cultures

2.1. In a nutshell: ‘regal’ and ‘kungic’ explained

2.2. Evolutionary basis for regality theory

2.3. An evolutionarily stable strategy

2.4. The behavior of the leader

2.5. Why are most warriors and chiefs men?

2.6. Cultural effects of regal and kungic tendencies

3. Contributions from Other Theories

3.1. Influence of the environment: Contributions from ecological theory

3.2. Nature or nurture: Evolution of sociality

3.3. Fertility: Contributions from life history theory

3.4. Contributions from political demography

3.5. World view and personality: Authoritarianism theory

3.6. Contributions from other social psychological theories

3.7. Contributions from social values theories

3.8. The theory of tight and loose cultures and other culture theories

3.9. Contributions from human empowerment theory

3.10. Moral panics: Contributions from the sociology of deviance

4. Different Kinds of War in Human History

4.1. The rise of empires: Contributions from cultural selection theory

4.2. The fall of empires: Contributions from historical dynamics theory

4.3. General theories of war and peace

4.4. Changing patterns of war

4.5. Theories of revolution

5. Economic Determinants of Conflict and Fear

5.1. Fear is profitable: The economy of the mass media

5.2. Economic booms and busts

5.3. Greed or grievance: Economic theories of civil war

5.4. The resource curse

5.5. Example: Proxy war in Afghanistan

6. Strategic Uses of Fear

6.1. Terrorism conflicts

6.2. The strategy of tension in Italy and elsewhere

6.3. Fabrication of threats and conflicts

6.4. Example: Why World War II started

7. Regality Theory Applied to Ancient Cultures

7.1. Andamanese

7.2. Arrernte

7.3. Babylonians

7.4. Chiricahua Apache

7.5. Copper Inuit (Eskimo)

7.6. E De (Rhadé)

7.7. Ganda

7.8. Gilyak

7.9. Hausa

7.10. Inca

7.11. !Kung

7.12. Maasai

7.13. Mbuti

7.14. Somali

7.15. Warao

7.16. Yahgan

7.17. Yanomamo

7.18. Yi (Lolo, Nuosu)

8. Statistical Testing of Regality Theory

8.1. Problems of cross-cultural statistics

8.2. Ancient cultures, large sample

8.3. Subsample, 18 cultures

8.4. Contemporary cultures, large sample

8.5. Evidence from existing studies

8.6. Conclusion of the statistical tests

9. Discussion and Conclusion

9.1. Summary of findings

9.2. Three epochs in human history

9.3. The regal/kungic dynamics and human social development

9.4. New explanations of well-known phenomena

9.5. Integration with other theories

9.6. Policy lessons

9.7. Supporting evidence

9.8. What regality theory can be used for

9.9. Further discussion

10. Bibliography

11. Illustrations