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

Interpersonal Attraction

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on March 24, 2017 in A Sideways View
What has evolutionary science to say about physical attractiveness?

Want to Build a Dog From A Fox? Here's How To Do It.

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails that are as friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes.
Richard McDowell/Shutterstock

Self-Deception Helps Us Accomplish Goals

By Tim Cole Ph.D. on March 20, 2017 in Intimate Portrait
More often than not, we lead with our goals and desires, not the facts. New research on how our ability to delude ourselves can be quite useful.
Hydra: Wikipedia commons

Why Do We Die?

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on March 18, 2017 in Statistical Life
Our survivability is the bargaining chip that life pays to keep us immortal.

Two-Legged Walking and Human Skull Traits Evolved in Tandem

Our hominid ancestors' ability to walk upright on two legs evolved in tandem with distinctive traits of the human skull, according to a new follow-up study.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

By Hank Davis on March 14, 2017 in Caveman Logic
It sometimes seems impossible to find those "better angels" inside ourselves and resist the lure of of meanness and bigotry that's all around us.

Moral Incentives for Dummies

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 14, 2017 in Ambigamy
What is basic morality and what incentive system does best to promote it?
Goldenarts/Shutterstock

Technology's Battle for IQ, EQ, or Something Very Different

By John Nosta on March 14, 2017 in The Digital Self
Enough with IQ and EQ. Technology is demanding its own score.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding...for Mothers

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on March 14, 2017 in How We Do It
Breast-feeding benefits mothers, not just babies. It speeds recovery of the womb after birth. Later in life, risks of heart disease and breast and ovarian cancer are reduced.
By Tkgd2007 - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_evolution.svg?uselang=en-gb, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53150354

Evolutionary Psychology Applies to Everyone

Can understanding our evolutionary history help us better function in the contemporary environment? Absolutely!

25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Dogs

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on March 13, 2017 in Animals and Us
Why dogs should not drive cars and other findings from the hot new field of canine science.

We're Wired to Take the Path of Least Resistance

By Caroline Beaton on March 11, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
A recently-published study discovered something we knew but denied: we're wired to take the path of least resistance.

On Criminology and Politics in the Social Sciences

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in More Than Mortal
A biosocial criminologist's thoughts on the state of his field, professional challenges, and ideological bias within the social sciences.

Can Modern People Survive in the Wild?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in The Human Beast
The history of European explorers contains nasty stories of intelligent people failing to adapt to harsh new environments. One exception may be Viking colony in Greenland.

Getting Things Done, Procrastinating or Not

Procrastination should not be linked with failure, just as early action should not be tied to success.

Do Dogs Ever Lie to or Try to Deceive People?

New data shows that dogs are capable of being deceptive around people when it is in their own self-interest.
Charles Darwin/Public Domain

Why Does Autism Still Exist?

By Barb Cohen on March 07, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.

Revenge Really Is Sweet

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 06, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Revenge is sweet, but causes problems in the long run. Why do we so often turn to retaliation to feel better when it doesn't usually work out to mutual advantage?

Disaster at Middlebury College

Middlebury College joins the list of academic institutions that are shouting down conservative voices. Along the way, the liberals are simply handing free speech to conservatives.

Five Ways that Evolutionary Psychology Informs Medicine

The field of evolutionary medicine is changing our understanding of best practices in healthcare at a breakneck pace. Evolutionary psychology is helping lead the way. Here's how.

Why Carl Sagan's 1995 Prediction Seems So Prescient

Did the uncanny astronomer see into our future, or did our own wishful thinking make his decades-old quote go viral?

To Understand Everything, Understand Evolution

To understand psychology, culture, and maybe even the universe, we need to understand evolution.

The Three Basics of Friendship

By Lydia Denworth on March 03, 2017 in Brain Waves
Recognizing your true friends can be surprisingly simple. There are some fundamental elements that every close bond shares.

Why Women Want to Lose Weight

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 02, 2017 in The Human Beast
In subsistence societies, heavier women are perceived as fertile and sexually attractive. In developed countries, women strive to be more slender. Why?

It’s the Mode For Men to Have More Sex Partners

A common fallacy mistakes the mean for the mode where numbers of sex partners distinguished by sex is concerned.
"Intelligent Mud Counts" by author

Intelligent Mud

Emotions make our mud human—sometimes intelligently caring, often charming, on occasion—lovable.

Are We All Haters?

"All my friends in New York define themselves by what they hate,” says Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath, on Girls.

New Insights Into Paranoia

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on February 28, 2017 in The Me in We
Research reveals that paranoia is a process rather than character trait, one that operates across various mental disorders.

“The End Is Nigh,” Want to Know Why?

By Gregg R. Murray Ph.D. on February 26, 2017 in Caveman Politics
We’re a month into a new presidency, and the partisan rhetoric is blazing hot. Why do we put up with this?