Evolutionary Psychology Essential Reads

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?

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...

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.

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

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.

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.

The Surprising Psychology of BDSM

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

How to Use All 5 Senses to Beat Stress

By Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M. on February 04, 2015 in Head Games
With the hassles of everyday life, it's easy for a bad day to take a downward spiral. Studies show that you can feel better by engaging the five senses. Here are five research-backed ways to de-stress and connect more deeply to your senses.

It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 30, 2015 in Talking Apes
Most of our daily conversations are about building and maintaining social relationships, and the actual content of those conversations is usually unimportant.

Does Wanting Casual Sex Really Mean Not Wanting Love?

By Zhana Vrangalova Ph.D. on January 28, 2015 in Strictly Casual
If someone loves one-night stands, do you automatically assume that they don't like long-term relationships? Yeah? Well, you shouldn't.

Dead Kennedys, Testosterone-Crazed Skateboarders, and You

Can observing testosterone crazed skateboarders, or delving into the risky decisions made by Joe Kennedy's descendants who died tragic early deaths, inform us about the fundamental bases of our everyday decisions?

Four Steps to a Calmer, Confident, Creative, Capable You

By Bill Knaus Ed.D. on January 20, 2015 in Science and Sensibility
Try a new way to feel serene, procrastinate less, and enjoy life more.

If We Could Talk to the Animals

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 16, 2015 in Talking Apes
Animal communication systems aren’t just simple languages, as there are fundamental differences between the ways that animals and humans communicate.

All Is Lost!

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on January 14, 2015 in The Human Beast
If a tsunami washes away your home, family and friends, you are entitled to feel that all is lost. Most people bounce back from disasters sooner or later. Yet many people feel catastrophic anxiety in their everyday lives without any catastrophe. Why?

Twin Congress Highlights and Telling Twins Apart

By Nancy L Segal Ph.D. on January 13, 2015 in Twofold
What you can learn from the International Twin Congress, and a new way to tell twins apart

Penis Size Matters

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on January 13, 2015 in How We Do It
Myths regarding human penis size have acquired a life of their own but are easily debunked by analyses of reliable data from available quantitative studies. Men do not have the longest penis found among primates. There are no conspicuous differences in average penis size between human populations. And shoe size is not a reliable guide to male endowment.

Sex Doesn’t Have to Make Sense

Trying to pigeonhole sex into one or two “real” explanations is fruitless and damaging.

Why You Need to Feed Your Hunger for Contact

Scientists prove what humans knew all along, hugs heal.

In the Human Brain, Dogs and Children Are Equally Lovable

MRI data explores how human mothers respond to their own children and to their family dog. The similarities are remarkable.

The Brain’s Letterbox

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 05, 2015 in Talking Apes
Writing systems have to use symbols that are similar to the kinds of information the brain has processed for millions of years, and that’s why they’re all so similar.

Top 10 Evolutionary Explanations of Santa

This holiday season, we're often encouraged to think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. While I don't have a problem with this approach, I encourage you, here, to think about something that may be even deeper - Is Santa possibly best explained as a distinct species of Hominid - well-adapated to extreme cold and jolly under any and all conditions ...

A Defense of Jealousy

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on December 23, 2014 in This Is America
In Jealousy, Peter Toohey provides a charming and instructive survey of a much maligned emotion. He examines jealousy in many of its guises, including sexual jealousy, the Oedipus Complex, and sibling rivalry. Aware that it can be an ugly emotion, he argues that jealousy is an evolutionary adaptation that "can be a beautiful thing."

The Four “Dark Personality” Traits

Psychopaths, narcissists, and sadists, oh my! Personality psychologist Del Paulhus has bucked the positive psychology trend, with a series of rigorous studies delving into the "Dark Side" of human personality. He has shown that four dark traits have distinct but often unexpected consequences in the workplace and in relationships.

Parent, Adolescent, and How Each Other "Turns Out"

Just as the adult child doesn't quite "turn out" like the parents expected; parents don't quite "turn out" as the adult child expected. And that has to be okay.

Why Do People Care About Race?

By Jesse Marczyk on December 16, 2014 in Pop Psych
Given that humans were unlikely to have traveled far enough to encounter different races over our evolutionary history, the emphasis our mind can place on race seems a bit curious. Why might we attend to race as much as we do, and when might we stop noticing?

Finding Wisdom, and Optimism, in the Most Unlikely Places

Can one find wisdom on a burrito bag? My wife discovered a long quote from psychologist Steven Pinker on her Chipotle’s lunch sack. Right there, wrapped around a bowl full of carnitas and guacamole, Pinker offered a two-minute summary of scientific data addressing the question: Is the world becoming a better or worse place to live?

Come Play: It's the Bluff the Psychologist Challenge

With apologies to NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! It is time to play the Bluff the Psychologist Challenge. Two of these effects are made up. Which one is real?