History of Evolutionary Psychology

September 14, 2016

Meanwhile, I m keeping my

Humans are curious creatures. Our curiosity is a characteristic we share with other primates and is a primary reason for our evolutionary success. It is also the basis for the natural sciences, including evolutionary psychology: the study of human behavior from an evolutionary perspective. The goal of evolutionary psychology is to understand both what we do and why we do it.

Evolutionary psychology is a synthetic science, uniting the empirical study of human and primate behavior with a theoretical analysis of the evolutionary dynamics by which such behavior has come about. It differs from European psychoanalytic theory, which historically focused on inferring internal motivational states grounded in basic drives such as hunger, fear, and sexuality. It also differs from American behavioral psychology, which focused on behavior without reference to internal motivations or intentions.

People are curious about people. We have always been fascinated by what people do and why we do it. Most people are compulsive “people watchers”, beginning in very early infancy and lasting the rest of our lives. We are endlessly attracted to other people, constantly watching them and trying to figure them out. And not just other people: we carefully observe our own behavior, interpreting and anticipating our own actions as avidly as those of the people around us. This curiosity about each other and ourselves is a trait we share with other social animals, especially primates. As we will see, this exaggerated curiosity is not accidental, nor is it necessarily bad. On the contrary, it is one of the central reasons for our success, as individuals and as a species. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has more than once saved the lives of our evolutionary ancestors.

This series is about the reasons why we are so curious about each other, and what we have learned so far as the result of satisfying that curiosity. The subject of the science of evolutionary psychology is us, and its primary goal is to understand what we do and why we do it. Put in formal terms:

is the scientific study of human behavior from an evolutionary perspective.
Evolutionary psychologists observe people very carefully, either directly or by analyzing indirect information such as demographic data. Our work sometimes takes us into the field, observing people in their “natural habitat, ” in much the same way that an ornithologist might observe the behavior of an exotic bird. Some evolutionary psychologists also conduct carefully controlled laboratory experiments, although the “laboratory” may be something as simple as a rickety bridge across a gorge on a college campus. In both cases, the intent is to observe people in the same way that animal behaviorists observe members of other species: without biases or preconceptions about what ought to be happening.

Evolutionary psychologists also ask people what they are doing and why they are doing it, although as we will see, such self-reporting is often unreliable. This isn’t necessarily bad; even such unreliability can tell us something interesting about human motivations and our capacity for self-deception.

Evolutionary psychology is a branch of psychology, one of the newest branches of one of the oldest of human disciplines. As the name implies, it has its roots in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin’s theory gives us a theoretical perspective that makes it possible to ask questions about human behavior that have not been asked in a systematic way before. It also provides a very practical set of experimental and observational techniques that allows us to make predictions about human behavior in specific contexts.

What evolutionary psychology does not do is recycle old ideas about human nature, except insofar as such ideas may coincidentally be based on the unbiased observation of human behavior. Evolutionary psychology is most emphatically not social Darwinism, neither in its origins nor in its conclusions. Indeed, I hope you will be surprised at some of the concepts that have come from the scientific study of human behavior from an evolutionary perspective.

Source: evolpsychology.blogspot.com

The Evolutionary Epic: Crash Course Big History #5
The Evolutionary Epic: Crash Course Big History #5
Ancestral Mental Health: Applied Evolutionary Psychology
Ancestral Mental Health: Applied Evolutionary Psychology ...
Evolutionary Thought in Psychology A Brief History Read Online
Evolutionary Thought in Psychology A Brief History Read Online
Share this Post

Featured tweets