Essential Reads

The Uses of Shame

How society makes use of shame to enforce its values

On the Nature of Creepiness

Can "getting the creeps" be an evolutionary adaptation?

Democracy and the Pro-social Impulse

Can there be democracy without idealism?

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

... and 3 research-based reasons to believe it.

Recent Posts on Evolutionary Psychology

Premarital Sex Rises with Economies

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 22, 2015 in The Human Beast
I have been analyzing Pew data on acceptance of premarital sex around the globe to see whether it fits in with the ecology of modern life. Is acceptance of premarital sex higher in developed countries? What about the risks of pregnancy, and disease? What about female participation in the workforce?

Dog's Brains Are Tuned to Recognize Human Faces

Recent fMRI data shows that dogs' sensitivity to human faces and expressions may be wired into the canine brain.

The Power of Awe: A Sense of Wonder Promotes Loving-Kindness

A new study led by researchers at the University of California reports that having a sense of wonder and being in awe of something greater than oneself promotes loving-kindness and prosocial behavior.

The Uses of Shame

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on May 20, 2015 in Shame
In different ways, the religious right and the liberal left both make use of shame to enforce their values.

VA Emails Discuss How to Handle "Problem" Vet

By Eric Newhouse on May 20, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
Ever wonder what the VA is saying behind your back? Charles Gatlin did. So he and his wife requested—and received—hundreds of pages of emails that testify to a growing rift between a vet and the agency designated to serve him.

Vet Wins Partial Victory on TBI Rating Challenge

By Eric Newhouse on May 19, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
A VA appeals panel has ordered a full neuropsychological workup for a former Army captain, Charles Gatlin, who challenged his TBI disability rating on the grounds that the VA's RBANS screening test wasn't capable of measuring the brain injury he suffered from a car bomb in Iraq. It's a ruling with implications for all vets, but the VA says its policy won't change.

On the Nature of Creepiness

Given how frequently creepiness gets discussed in everyday life, it is amazing that it has not yet been studied in a scientific way. What I found in an exploratory study suggests that creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat; it is not the clear presence of danger that creeps us out, but rather the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.

Reading Faces

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 18, 2015 in Talking Apes
The language you speak can influence the way you perceive the emotional expressions of other people.

Democracy and the Pro-social Impulse

Governments answerable to the people can exist only due to the fact that we’re emotional, social creatures, not isolated, rational, strictly selfish individuals. A better appreciation of human nature can help us secure a democratic future.

Reassessing Asperger's

A person with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) has difficulty with Theory of Mind: our ability to appreciate another person's point of view. But AS people can be very adept at noticing what people think and feel about them. This is a different perspective on perspective: that we are more interested in what people think or feel about us and later about what they think or feel.

Solving Humanity’s Emotional Disorders

In the last 1% of human genus existence, mental illness has become rampant. What are we doing wrong?

A Crash Course on Gender Differences - Session 2

By Eyal Winter on May 16, 2015 in Feeling Smart
"sperm competition" is a major force that shaped men and women differently

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

The field of evolutionary psychology has enormous implications for how to guide the next generation of leaders. In particular, the field helps illuminate the nature of giving—a value that we expect all of our graduates to internalize.

Can Women be as Violent as Men?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in The Human Beast
Gender equality is making strides in most occupations, including violent ones such as the military and police. If violent crime is a “job,” as Woody Allen referred to bank robbery in Take the Money and Run, can we expect to see gender equality there also?

How Can You Tell if Your Loved One Is Jealous?

You know you've done it - peeped at your significant other's open Facebook messenger - who hasn't ? What happens when what you see makes you jealous? Do you confront them? Do you cyberstalk the person who sent the message? Would an emoticon included in the message make you respond differently? Do women and men react differently? Recent answers to these questions and more!

Can God Be Its Own Cause?

Many humans find First Cause arguments for the existence of God compelling. Why? There are two collaborating reasons: Our confusion over infinity, and our lack of confusion over the strange notion of being self-caused -- a property often attributed to God. Both of these implicate our amazing and puzzling ability to conceive.

Oxytocin — The Multitasking Love Hormone

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on May 12, 2015 in How We Do It
Oxytocin is widely known because hospitals routinely use it to trigger and support birth. The hormone also triggers milk ejection during breastfeeding. But it is also involved elsewhere, including bonding. Oxytocin has significant effects on brain function as well as on the reproductive organs. But it has very ancient origins, so what was its initial function?

Dissecting the Dad Bod

Hype over the 'dad body' is sweeping the internet, but how likely are females to actually find this figure attractive?

Going ape in the office

High ranking chimpanzees will actively seek to drive apart coalitions between subordinate group members. Surprisingly, this ancient tactic is used by many bosses today to prevent talented coworkers from usurping their position, despite negatively impacting performance. A recent study investigates why some individuals are driven to divide and conquer.

What Excites You?

All love is based on the experience of positive emotion, and the part of love that makes your heart thump owes its power to the emotion of excitement that began in early childhood.

A Crash Course on Gender Differences - Session 1

By Eyal Winter on May 09, 2015 in Feeling Smart
The Evolutionary Role of Love Romance and Sexuality

Why Mothers Are So Special

By Gad Saad Ph.D. on May 08, 2015 in Homo Consumericus
Mothers hold a privileged status within the human experience. I address some of the foundational evolutionary principles that explain the mother-child bond. Happy Mother’s Day!

Psychoanalysis Is a History of Storytelling

Psychoanalysis is part of the history of storytelling.

Do Dogs Have Empathy for Human Stress and Discomfort?

Dogs and humans seem to respond in the same way when they hear the crying sounds of the distressed baby.

Do Sounds Have Shapes?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 06, 2015 in Talking Apes
Synesthesia, or a mixing of the senses, may tell us something about the origin of speech.

Makings of a Child

What is a father? How does assisted reproduction reshape how we think of fathers and mothers, and what are the consequences for children's genetic, epigenetic and cultural legacies?

Why We Care So Much About What Others Think of Us

By Peg Streep on May 05, 2015 in Tech Support
Are we hardwired to crave status and to respond to people in programmed ways depending on their status? Is status about what money can buy or something else? A close look at what the research shows...

Should We Expect Cross-Cultural Perceptual Errors?

By Jesse Marczyk on May 04, 2015 in Pop Psych
Previous research has suggested men might over-perceive women's sexual intent. Is that the case in non-American samples?

What Do Women Really Want?

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.