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

Understanding the Islamic State - A Fool's Errand?

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on February 28, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
Attempts to identify the beliefs that define the "truth" of any religion are doomed to fail because of our own cognitive biases and the nature of religion itself.

Where’s The Market For Organs (And Sex)?

By Jesse Marczyk on February 28, 2015 in Pop Psych
Sometimes you aren't allowed to sell things that you are free to give away; a curious bit of moral psychology

Born to Gossip

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 27, 2015 in Talking Apes
Since our brains are finely tuned for coordinating our relationships with others, it’s not surprising that language is structured to convey social information.

Does Science Really Say That Hot Guys Are Jerks?

There have been many recent media stories—with titles like "Science Says: Hot Guys Are A-Holes"—about a new study on attractiveness and behavior. I was lead author on this study, and I'll clarify here what our study really showed.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

Dogs Don't Believe Information From Liars

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 24, 2015 in Canine Corner
Dogs keep track of whether people lie or tell the truth, and they use these memories to determine whether they can trust particular humans and any new information that they get from them.

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 1 of 3

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Cui Bono
In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute, in 1,000 words or less, the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." In a three-part blog post, I explain why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.

The Benefits of Being Blond

Is it better to be blond? Prior research suggests that blond women enjoy a wage premium and preferential treatment from men. But does this really translate into higher lifetime earnings or better odds of marriage? And might blond men be similarly-advantaged?

8 Negative Attitudes of Chronically Unhappy People

All of us experience negative thoughts from time to time. How we manage our negative attitudes can make the difference between confidence versus fear, hope versus despair, mastery versus victimhood, and victory versus defeat. Here are eight negative attitudes of chronically unhappy people...

Emotions As a Second Language - Or Should They Be Our First?

Emotional literacy is being able to feel and identify one’s feeling states. This fluency enhances emotional self-regulation, lessens over-reactivity to negative emotions such as anger, and is the basis of interpersonal emotional modulation.

Socially-Strategic Welfare

By Jesse Marczyk on February 19, 2015 in Pop Psych
Cross-national differences in beliefs about welfare appear to be generated by the same underlying psychology. If you want to get people to agree on welfare, you need to get to them agree about the recipients.

How Old Is Language?

By Vyv Evans Ph.D. on February 19, 2015 in Language in the Mind
Can the time-depth of language be uncovered without a time-machine? Recent evidence, ranging from genetic dating, to new archaeological finds, is transforming what we know about language's vintage.

Are Humans Unique?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 in The Human Beast
The argument for human uniqueness is of mostly historical interest. As we gained more understanding of animal behavior, we learned that their psychology has more in common with us than had been imagined previously.

Can Dogs Recognize Emotions Just by Looking at a Human Face?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 17, 2015 in Canine Corner
New data shows that dogs need only a glimpse of your mouth or your eyes to determine whether you are happy or angry.

There Is a New Paradigm for Psychiatry

The hope for a molecular-biochemical explanation for psychiatry is false. It is believed we are on the verge of proving that psychiatry is a brain disease, no different from cancer or diabetes. But there is a paradigm that fully illuminates psychiatry - the ‘Play of consciousness, which is consonant with biology, neuroscience, and evolutution.

Fifty Grades of Shale

By Robert J King Ph.D. on February 14, 2015 in Hive Mind
50 Shades of Grey is part of a pattern of human behavior going back millennia

Phrasing The Question: Does Altruism Even Exist?

By Jesse Marczyk on February 13, 2015 in Pop Psych
Are humans really altruistic, or is this question actually several questions confusing phrased as one?

Fifty Shades of Grue

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 13, 2015 in Talking Apes
Language doesn’t bind us to a particular world view, but it does dominate the way we perceive and think about our experiences.

The Hipster and the Bearded Ape

By Hector A Garcia Psy.D. on February 11, 2015 in Alpha God
Most hipsters and other bearded types walk about sporting their facial coiffures unaware of their evolved purpose. But the allure of beards is rooted in the violent past of male mate competition.

What Matters Most in a Man?

By Stephen Snyder M.D. on February 10, 2015 in SexualityToday
I wonder what Jane Austen would think about Fifty Shades. Sure, she'd probably hate the prose. But if she got past that, she'd definitely be interested in what has and hasn't changed for women in the two centuries that divide Pride and Prejudice from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Be More Successful in Online Dating – Use Humour

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on February 09, 2015 in Love, Digitally
Females with more humorous partners have more sex and also initiate sex more often. Females prefer males who can make them laugh, because humorous males may be able to give their offspring superior genetic benefits.

Revisited: Why Are Spree Killers Mostly Men?

How Elliot Rodger's Writings Stunningly Mirror the Ultimate Causality of Rampage Killing

Hunting for Wisdom: Musings of a Baby Boomer

By Diana Raab Ph.D. on February 08, 2015 in The Empowerment Diary
As baby boomers become elders, they will be called upon to bestow their wisdom on their younger counterparts. Women in particular are becoming more and more known as pathfinders and making waves in their communities in an even more powerful way than the feminists of the 1960s.

Why are There More Homo Sapiens than Neandertals These Days?

Neandertals were smart - but they now only exist in small amounts in our own DNA. What led to the large-scale success of Homo Sapiens relative to the Neandertals? The answer lies in the human (or Homo Sapien) tendency to create "ingroups" beyond kin lines. And such "ingroup" reasoning can help explain both the best and the worst of what it means to be human.

How Big are Psychological Sex Differences?

By David P Schmitt Ph.D. on February 08, 2015 in Sexual Personalities
Are Men and Women Psychologically Different?

5 Research-Backed Reasons We Wear Makeup

Today's cosmetics are not as arbitrary as they might seem.

The Seduction of Syntax

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 06, 2015 in Talking Apes
There is no language module in the brain. Instead, language processing runs through the same neural circuits that the brain has been using to perform other information processing tasks for millions of years.

Don't Blame Religion for Violence

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 05, 2015 in The Human Beast
Violence often breaks out between religious groups. Yet, it is a mistake to blame religion for violence. Unfortunately, warfare is a universal human potential that would still exist if we were all atheists.

The Surprising Psychology of BDSM

‘Fifty Shades’ piqued your curiosity? Answers to five kinky questions.

The "Crazy Bastard" Hypothesis

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
There may actually be a method to the madness of young men who engage in seemingly pointless risky behavior. Just ask yourself the following question: At crunch time, would you prefer to have that Crazy Bastard as an enemy or as a friend?