What Is Evolutionary Psychology?

Our bodies evolved over eons, slowly calibrating to the African savanna on which 98 percent of our ancestors lived and died. So, too, did our brains. Evolutionary psychology postulates that the mind is shaped by pressure to survive and reproduce. We jealously guard romantic partners and cherish our closest relatives above all others, lest we fail to pass on our genes. We easily acquire language, which is critical for cooperation and hence survival. Evolutionary psychology acknowledges these forces but stresses the ultimate (and largely unconscious) gene's eye view of behavior.

Recent posts on Evolutionary Psychology

Man's Fate

By Allen J Frances M.D. on October 18, 2016 in Saving Normal
Easter Island tells us all we need to know about our greatness and our fallibility- and also about our prognosis as a species.

Stone-Aged Minds in Modern Voting Booths

Under ancestral conditions, large-scale politics did not exist. But small-scale politics, or the politics found in localized communities, have characterized our species for eons.

Why Your Mother-in-Law Doesn’t Like You

Feeling at odds with your in-laws? Find out the reasons behind their dislike and get some tips to ease this common conflict.

Pre-Suasion: Before You Try to Persuade Someone…

In Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini asks: What is most important if you want to persuade? Hint: it’s not so much what’s IN your message, as in what happens in the moment just BEFORE.

Are Humans Predisposed to Fear Snakes?

By Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D. on October 17, 2016 in Beastly Behavior
Researchers have found that it is easier to train humans and other primates to fear snakes than other dangers, indicating a genetic predisposition for the fear of snakes.

Nietzsche vs. the Batek

Could Nietzsche’s 'Superman' survive in a traditional human society?
Jessica Tracy

Take Pride

By Jessica Tracy, Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Take Pride
What drives humans to work hard to achieve, discover, create, and innovate?

Why Clowns Creep Us Out

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Out of the Ooze
Clowns are mischievous and unpredictable, and they have an association with serial killers in real life and in the movies. In other words, clowns are designed to creep us out.

Do Humans Need Meat?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 12, 2016 in The Human Beast
Environmentalists encourage us to cut down on meat consumption in favor of vegetable foods that are less damaging to the environment. Is that a good idea for our health?

Clinton vs. Trump: Talking to the Reptilian Brain

The debates seem to work for Trump. Why? The answer lies in the reptilian brain. His messages stick because they paint images that trigger emotion and instinct.

Open Letter to Mr. Tom Wolfe

By John Staddon, Ph.D. on October 11, 2016 in Adaptive Behavior
Is language really special? Or did it evolve just like other human abilities?

The Psychology Behind the Creepy Clown Phenomenon

Clowns are among the few people in society who are inherently in a state of deindividuation. This is largely what makes them so creepy.

Freedom of Speech on Campus

Universities have a long history of hiring professors who hold strongly liberal perspectives. This fact has led to a major lack of viewpoint diversity. And this is a problem.

A Dog Is More Likely to Ignore Bad Advice Than a Child

Both dogs and children imitate the behaviors that they see, however dogs are less likely to imitate behaviors that are not relevant to completing a task.

Aspiration in Evolutionary Perspective

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 05, 2016 in The Human Beast
People who are committed to a long term goal that is not purely selfish are happier, healthier and live longer. This challenges Darwinism that presupposes a nastier social order.

Humans Are Genetically Predisposed to Kill Each Other

By R. Douglas Fields Ph.D. on October 02, 2016 in The New Brain
A new study of 1,024 mammal species has determined which animals are the most vicious killers of their own kind. For the answer, just look in the mirror.

Moral Judgments Distort Perceptions of Risk to A Child

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on October 02, 2016 in The Me in We
A new study shows how moral judgments aimed at parents bias how we access risk to a child.

3 Ways Your Smile Can Predict Your Future

By Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M. on September 29, 2016 in Head Games
Your smile communicates much more than you may realize.

A New Science of Human Evolution—and Evolutionary Psychiatry

A new book highlights the revolution sweeping through evolution thanks to genomics and sets a precedent that the imprinted brain theory has already followed.

Why Lending With Interest Is Felt to Be Immoral

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on September 28, 2016 in Cui Bono
A mismatch between evolved feelings about fairness in exchanges and modern economic practices might eventually lead to a revolution against the current political/economic system.

Can Dogs Teach Other Dogs to Speak?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 28, 2016 in Canine Corner
A dog can learn how to make and use specific sounds for communication simply by observing other dogs

Biological Foundations for Self-Directed Education

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on September 28, 2016 in Freedom to Learn
Self-directed education—as it occurs in unschooling families and at democratic schools--operates by allowing these four natural drives to flourish. ....

How Natural is War to Human Beings?

By Steve Taylor Ph.D. on September 25, 2016 in Out of the Darkness
We were a peaceful species once before, so there’s no reason why we should give up hope of becoming peaceful once again.

"Power Ties" Are Actually Powerless

By Robert Burriss Ph.D. on September 23, 2016 in Attraction, Evolved
Donald Trump is hardly a sartorial icon, though he is known for one eye-catching style choice—his “power ties." But does his favored red tie really make him seem more powerful?

Worshipping the Sun God

Evolutionary psychological principles can help shape the field of architecture. And the result can be amazing. Here is a case study based on Wooster Hall at SUNY New Paltz.

Are Men Attracted to Clever Women?

By Robert Burriss Ph.D. on September 22, 2016 in Attraction, Evolved
The claim that men are intimidated by clever women is backed by the results of a new study on speed-dating.

Can a Dog Really Suffer From Depression?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 21, 2016 in Canine Corner
One of the breakthroughs in veterinary medicine has been the recognition that dogs and humans may have similar psychological problems and can be treated the same way.

The Blank Slate Controversy

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on September 21, 2016 in The Human Beast
Behaviorists used to argue that people were blank slates in the sense that almost all of our behavior was learned. Evolutionary psychologists disagree. Who is correct?

Evolutionary Adaptations and Male Mortality

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in This Is America
The most social of the sciences, evolutionary biology draws on anthropology, endocrinology, and genetics to understand male aging, including the gender gap in mortality rates.