Evolutionary Psychology Essential Reads

What Do Women Look for in a Mate?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on May 04, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Some researchers have named those qualities that women look at in choosing a mate as the Three Gees - good genes, good providers, and good fathers. Men who can demonstrate all three of these qualities stand the greatest chance of winning the mate selection competition. But how important are these traits? New research from China puts the Three Gees to the test.

Wife Swapping in the Stone Age

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 29, 2015 in The Human Beast
Anthropologists are all too familiar with the violence and bloodshed triggered by marital infidelity. Now they are coming to terms with a more mysterious phenomenon—consensual wife sharing. If a man flies into homicidal rages when his wife cheats on him, why would he encourage another man to sleep with her?

Life in the Slow Lane

Modern middle American life is a blessed experience from an evolutionary perspective. If you're "in the middle," then you have the luxury of experience a "high k" life history strategy. Read on to see how lucky you are for this fact!

Has a Universal Preference Just Been Challenged?

By Jesse Marczyk on April 26, 2015 in Pop Psych
A new paper seeks to challenge the assertion that the preference for women's waist-to-hip ratio is universal and invariant

Gossip in Your Workplace Probably Does More Good Than Harm

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on April 25, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
Campaigns to stamp out workplace gossip overlook the fact that gossip is part of who we are and an essential part of what makes work groups function as well as they do. It is more productive to think of gossip as a social skill rather than as a character flaw, because it is only when we do not do it well that we get into trouble.

Does Emotional Attachment to an Owner Change in Older Dogs?

Although older dogs may appear to be more placid and less emotionally responsive, physiological measures show that this is not the case. They may actually be reacting to stress to a greater degree than they did when they were younger.

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn admitted that Russians were occasionally like insects. But he didn't like it.

5 Natural Reasons Why Life Is Hard

If you're like me, you've got a computer, a smart phone, a TV, a couch, some pets, a great family, and lots of awesome things - but you still often find that life is hard. Evolutionary psychology can help explain why.

When Women Use Jealousy

By Duana C. Welch Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 in Love Proof
Common knowledge says jealousy always backfires. Common knowledge is wrong.

Cities Are Green After All

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 15, 2015 in The Human Beast
Many of us are accustomed to think of urban smog as a root cause of global warming and environmental degradation that is pushing us to an existential precipice. Leading environmentalist Stewart Brand thinks otherwise. He explains why he was weaned from the village romanticism of a Mahatma Gandhi.

Evolutionary Psychology Is Not About "Bettering the Species"

People often think that since "evolution" has a lot to do with speciation, then "evolutionary psychology" must be about "bettering the human species" in some way. It's not. At all. Read this if you want to know what evolutionary psychology is really about.

Putting Music to the Words

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 in Talking Apes
In animal communication systems, you can have either syntax or semantics. Human language, however, integrates the two. As a result, our range of expression is almost limitless.

Are Men or Women More in Demand?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 08, 2015 in The Human Beast
Men generally want to have sex earlier in a relationship than women. This is consistent with the pattern for other species where males are more eager to mate whereas females invest more in young and are more discriminating. How does this pattern play out in modern environments?

Why Are There So Many Religions?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on April 07, 2015 in Excellent Beauty
There are thousands of religions on Earth today. The best explanation for this puzzlingly high number is that being religious is an evolutionary adaptation.

Looking in the Cultural Mirror at 100, the Top 10

Five years ago, I began writing pieces for Looking in the Cultural Mirror. While psychology may define itself as the science of behavior, when it comes to people it often seems more like the science of American behavior than of human behavior everywhere. This, my 100th piece, discusses the blog’s background and aims. It offers links to the most popular 10.

The Flynn Effect as Adaptive Change

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 01, 2015 in The Human Beast
All living creatures can change to fit in with their environment. Some of that flexibility is due to gene selection but a lot is developmental. The Flynn effect of rising IQ in developed countries is an enrichment effect of modern life. It arises due to the adaptive response of our brain to the increased challenges it faces.

Custodians of the Neighborhood

We like to keep our neighborhoods in good condition—free of graffiti, broken streetlights, litter, and potholes. Who are the custodians of our neighborhoods? And are they wasting their time?

How Drug Addiction Impacts Infant Care

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in The Me in We
Drug abuse short circuits neural connections between child and caregiver.

10 Things Your Psychology Professors Want You to Know

An education in psychology is enormous - including information on such diverse topics ranging from how infants perceive shapes to how rats learn to complete mazes - and more. Way more. The list found here distills a traditional education in psychology to 10 things that psychology professors really want their students to walk away with.

Why Childhood Stress Crimps Academic Performance

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 18, 2015 in The Human Beast
Animals from an environment full of risk remain vigilant and avoid exploring their surroundings. This promotes survival but has the indirect consequence of reducing their cognitive ability. A similar pattern applies to humans and shows up as academic under performance.

Science and the Online Dating Profile

Online dating is the new singles bar, one in which your words won't be drowned out by the music. But which words should you use? There is some scientific evidence about relatively more effective ways to turn an online contact into a real huggable moment.

Women Like Men With Big Medals

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on March 15, 2015 in Caveman Politics
If our basic drive is to survive and reproduce, why do men, who have been the primary war fighters throughout human history, volunteer to subject themselves to the life-threatening dangers of war?

Are Men More Caring Where They Outnumber Women?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 13, 2015 in The Human Beast
In romance, as in real estate it is either a buyer's market, or a seller's market. If there is a scarcity of men (or women) in a society, they get the best deal. If men are in demand, they can play the field. If women are in demand, they can hold out for a desirable partner who is kind, intelligent, and affluent.

Womb for One

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on March 10, 2015 in How We Do It
The single-chambered womb of women is rare among mammals, which mostly have two separate womb chambers. Through developmental accident, a double womb occasionally recurs in women, but surprisingly does not stand in the way of successful pregnancy. Reduction from two chambers to one in evolutionary has some connection with single births, but there are twists in the story.

How We Fall Out of Love

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 09, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Though there has been extensive research looking at the psychology of romantic love, is it possible to learn what can cause people to fall out of love with their significant other? For that matter, how is it possible to move on after a relationship comes to an end? A new article published in Review of General Psychology raises some intriguing questions about this.

Marketers' Shocking New Ability to Target Women

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 03, 2015 in The Human Beast
During the fertile phase of their monthly cycle, women are prone to greater risk taking. For psychologists, this means that they are more likely to initiate sexual affairs. Marketers discovered that women are more likely to try new brands as well. Now they plan to use this fact in targeted marketing. Assuming that they get away with it, will the scheme work?

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 "validity" of any religion are doomed to fail because of our own cognitive biases and the nature of religion itself.

Why You Were 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?