An analysis of evollutionary psychology

To appear in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer Definition Comparative Psychology and Ethology are both sciences which study animal behavior, typically non-human behavior, though both have often studied humans.

An analysis of evollutionary psychology

He introduces the convention to distinguish a particular research tradition Laudan from other approaches to the biology of human behavior. Evolutionary psychology rests upon specific theoretical principles presented in section 2 below not all of which are shared by others working in the biology of human behavior Laland and Brown ; Brown et al.

For example, human behavioral ecologists present and defend explanatory hypotheses about human behavior that do not appeal to psychological mechanisms e. Behavioral ecologists also believe that much of human behavior can be explained by appealing to evolution while rejecting the idea held by evolutionary psychologists that one period of our evolutionary history is the source of all our important psychological adaptations Irons Developmental psychobiologists take yet another approach: Michel and Moore ; but see Bateson and Martin ; Bjorklund and Hernandez Blasi for examples of developmentalist work in an adaptationist vein.

These theorists believe that much of our behavior can be explained without appealing to a suite of specific psychological adaptations for that behavior. Instead they emphasize the role of development in the production of various human behavioral traits.

Paul Griffiths argues that evolutionary psychology owes theoretical debt to both sociobiology and ethology Griffiths ; Griffiths Evolutionary psychologists acknowledge their debt to sociobiology but point out that they add a dimension to sociobiology: Human behaviors are not a direct product of natural selection but rather the product of psychological mechanisms that were selected for.

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Evolutionary psychology is also related to cognitive psychology and the cognitive sciences. This overt cognitivism sets evolutionary psychology apart from much work in the neurosciences and from behavioral neuroendocrinology.

In these fields internal mechanisms are proposed in explanations of human behavior but they are not construed in computational terms. Many neuroscientists and behavioral neuroendocrinologists work at the implementation level while cognitive psychologists work at the level of the computations that are implemented at the neurobiological level cf.

Evolutionary psychologists sometimes present their approach as potentially unifying, or providing a foundation for, all other work that purports to explain human behavior e. This claim has been met with strong skepticism by many social scientists who see a role for a myriad of types of explanation of human behavior, some of which are not reducible to biological explanations of any sort.

This discussion hangs on issues of reductionism in the social sciences. Little has a nice introduction to these issues. There are also reasons to believe that evolutionary psychology neither unifies nor provides foundations for closely neighboring fields such as behavioral ecology or developmental psychobiology.

See the related discussion in Downes In other work, evolutionary psychologists present their approach as being consistent with or compatible with neighboring approaches such as behavioral ecology and developmental psychobiology. The truth of this claim hangs on a careful examination of the theoretical tenets of evolutionary psychology and its neighboring fields.

The brain is a computer designed by natural selection to extract information from the environment. Individual human behavior is generated by this evolved computer in response to information it extracts from the environment. Understanding behavior requires articulating the cognitive programs that generate the behavior.

The cognitive programs of the human brain are adaptations. They exist because they produced behavior in our ancestors that enabled them to survive and reproduce.


The cognitive programs of the human brain may not be adaptive now; they were adaptive in ancestral environments.

Natural selection ensures that the brain is composed of many different special purpose programs and not a domain general architecture. Tenet 1 emphasizes the cognitivism that evolutionary psychologists are committed to. It is these programs—psychological mechanisms—that are products of natural selection.

While they are products of natural selection, and hence adaptations, these programs need not be currently adaptive. Samuels ; Samuels There is a lot packed into this tenet and we will examine this thesis in some detail below in section 3.

In brief, evolutionary psychologists maintain that there is an analogy between organs and psychological mechanisms or modules. Organs perform specific functions well and are products of natural selection. There are no general purpose organs, hearts pump blood and livers detoxify the body.Comparative Psychology is a sub-discipline of psychology and ethology of biology.

Both can trace their roots to the late 19th century. Depending on which history one reads the first comparative psychologist was Pierre Flourens, a protégé of Baron Cuvier or George John Romanes, a .

Evolutionary perspectives on human behavior are almost as old as the science of psychology itself. Functionalists such as James, Dewey, and Angell, however, lacked explicit evolutionary theories and methodologies to inspire generative research programs, and their movement dissipated.

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An analysis of evollutionary psychology

Selfishness, Violence and Prejudice. Ordinary psychology is to evolutionary psychology as geography is to geology. Geography describes the shape of the land, while geology is concerned with the processes that . An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy which, if adopted by a population in a given environment, is impenetrable, meaning that it cannot be invaded by any alternative strategy that is initially rare.

It is relevant in game theory, behavioural ecology, and evolutionary ESS is an equilibrium refinement of the Nash equilibrium.

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