Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Dickins, T., King, R. J., Pawson, C., & Spencer, R.
Riotous Behaviour: A Guide For Governments
Poster Presentation
Optional Fields

The recent UK riots generated much discussion but little consensus. Useful qualitative analysis (e.g., Rowntree, 2011) of attitudes of those involved constitutes only foreground, proximate explanations of behaviour. Violence is typically seen as anti-social but actually, much rioting was highly pro-social. Coalitions were formed and new outgroups and ingroups established--even overcoming gang enmities. The use of new media such as Blackberries to aid in this, this should not obscure the fact that coalitional violence is an ancient facultative strategy. Analysis drawing on behavioural ecology foraging and coalitional models sees violence as facultative when the potential trade-offs, low risk versus high reward, are sufficient. Using these insights we analyse data from the recent riots drawn from arrest, background and sentencing reports. We show that--as standard evolutionary theory relating to life history strategy predicts--risk-taking behaviours make sense against a background of cues to highly unequal  life-history outcomes. Implications to policy makers—such as reducing such cues are discussed. For example, while increasing potential costs of riotous behaviour through highly punitive responses may work to some extent--this will carry costs of its own--especially if this contributes towards background cues of unfairness that drive such behaviour.