(or EDP), is the application of the basic principles of Darwinian evolution, particularly natural selection, to explain contemporary human development. It involves the study of the genetic and environmental mechanisms that underlie the universal development of social and cognitive competencies and the evolved epigenetic (gene-environment interactions) processes that adapt these competencies to local conditions; it assumes that not only are behaviors and cognitions that characterize adults the product of natural selection pressures operating over the course of evolution, but so also are characteristics of children's behaviors and minds.
Some basic assumptions of EDP
- 1. All evolutionarily-influenced characteristics develop, and this requires examining not only the functioning of these characteristics in adults but also their ontogeny.
- 2. All evolved characteristics develop via continuous and bidirectional gene-environment interactions that emerge dynamically over time.
- 3. Development is constrained by genetic, environmental, and cultural factors.
- 4. An extended childhood is needed in which to learn the complexities of human social communities and economies.
- 5. Many aspects of childhood serve as preparations for adulthood and were selected over the course of evolution (deferred adaptations).
- 6. Some characteristics of infants and children were selected to serve an adaptive function at specific times in development and not as preparations for adulthood (ontogenetic adaptations).
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