This paper addresses a fundamental limitation in most attempts to apply the findings of evolutionary psychology to the human condition. Most attempts focus on how our biological past constrains and limits our behavioural options (including our cognitive abilities). They generally fail to look at whether these constraints can be overcome in our future evolution. To date, evolutionary psychology has not satisfactorily addressed a key question: are we beings forever constrained by our biological past, or can we acquire new psychological software that will enable us to become self-evolving organisms - beings that are able to adapt in whatever ways are necessary for future evolutionary success, largely unfettered by our biological and social past? This paper is directed squarely at addressing this issue. The answer to this issue is highly relevant to the nature/nurture debate. This debate will eventually dissolve to the extent that humans are capable of acquiring psychological skills that enable them to modify and overcome their genetic and cultural predispositions. To the extent that individuals acquire and apply these skills, neither nature nor nurture will control their behaviour and cognition.
In my view, a comprehensive approach to psychological evolution will not be restricted to examining only our biological past. It cannot ignore the fact that we are evolutionary work-in-progress. It must also look at our present and future psychological evolution. Only when it does so will evolutionary psychology fully qualify as scientific by being predictive in the widest sense.
FUTURE PSYCHOLOGICAL EVOLUTION
ABSTRACT: Humans are able to construct mental representations and models of possible interactions with their environment. They can use these mental models to identify actions that will enable them to achieve their adaptive goals. But humans do not use this capacity to identify and implement the actions that would contribute most to the evolutionary success of humanity. In general, humans do not find motivation or satisfaction in doing so, no matter how effective the actions might be in evolutionary terms. From an evolutionary perspective, this is a significant limitation in the psychological adaptability of humans. This paper sets out to identify the new psychological capacity that would be needed to overcome this limitation and how the new capacity might be acquired. 1. INTRODUCTION
Is the psychological evolution of humanity at an endpoint? Or are there limitations and deficiencies in our psychological capacities that could drive further evolution? Are there, for example, new forms of psychological software that humans could acquire to improve our ability to adapt to whatever challenges face us in the future? One way we can begin to answer this question is to ask whether there are blind spots in our current psychological capacities. Are our existing abilities to discover and implement useful adaptive behaviours seriously limited? Are we unable to explore areas of the space of adaptive possibilities? If we discover that there are limitations in our current psychological capacities, we can then ask whether these can be overcome by changes to our psychological software. Can our psychological adaptability be improved by, for example, the acquisition of new psychological skills and capacities? Can these be developed through learning and appropriate experiences? If we find that there are limitations, and if these can only be overcome by changes to our psychological software, we can then ask whether humans are likely to make these changes. Will we do what is required to develop the software? Will we be motivated to make whatever effort is necessary to evolve our psychology? Or are humans caught in an evolutionary predicament—are we unable to make these psychological improvements because of the limitations in our psychological adaptability? We begin in section 2 by identifying significant...
...the evolutionary explanation of gender development.
Gender refers to the concepts o masculine and feminine whereas sex is the biological fact of being a male or female. According to the evolutionary approach, gender differences are neither deliberate nor conscious; they exist because they enhanced or helped men and women perform particular types of roles in the past. Therefore, the role differences we observe are more a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through socialisation.
Part of the evolutionary explanation is Trivers’ parental investment theory which argues that the origin of behavioural differences between men and women lies in the different ways of achieving reproductive success. Trivers (1972) suggests that for males, offspring involves little parental investment whereas the reproduction for the human female involves considerable investment. The best strategy for reproductive success for a human female is to ensure the survival of her offspring. These traits, of investment level compared to masculinity and femininity, were passed down as a desired behaviour. A debate of this approach is the nature vs. nurture approach, nature supporting the evolutionary approach being that we have evolved through survival value and its ability to increase an individual’s opportunities to pass on their genes. Nurture, on the other hand, is a view proposed by the social approach suggesting behaviour is...
...Outline and evaluate the evolutionary explanation for gender roles
Gender refers to culturally constructed distinctions between femininity and masculinity. Individuals are born female or male but they become feminine or masculine through complex developmental processes that take many years to unfold. For example, women usually look after babies while men are the providers. The evolutionary approach argues that gender role division appears as an adaptation to the challenges faced by the ancestral humans in the EEA. Therefore, the role differences we observe are more a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through socialisation
As the evolutionary approach is a biological one, it suggests that aspects of human behaviour have been coded by our genes because they were or are adaptive. However, a debate of this approach is the nature vs. nurture approach, nature supporting the evolutionary approach being that we have evolved through survival value and its ability to increase an individuals opportunities to pass on their genes, an example showing this was Bowlby’s theory of attachment – concerning the role of evolution is the explanation of stress as an adaptive response to environmental pressures. Animals born without such responses die quickly. Nurture, on the other hand, is a view proposed by the social approach suggesting behaviour is affected by experience and environment.
To support the...
...Describe and evaluate evolutionary explanations of gender. [8 + 16]
During the evolutionary adaptation time period, between 10-40 thousand years ago, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. This created a division between men and women. The men would hunt for food and the women would be in charge of the domestic duties such as cleaning and cooking. Doing the domestic chores would have kept women more protected, as it is less strenuous and would have guarded the camp whilst the men were out hunting therefore increasing the chances of reproductive success. This division of labour would have made them less likely to sustain injuries and so the evolutionary approach would suggest that the groups who divided the labour were been more likely to survive; this explains how gender roles have evolved over time. This behaviour was passed on generation after generation through either natural selection or indeed sexual selection.
Gender role behaviours related to adaptive reproductive strategies. Such as men trying to have sex with as many females as possible. Women however were much more invested so that their offspring. These traits, of investment level compared to masculinity and femininity, were passed down as a desired behaviour. Trivers 1972 suggested that the differences between the genders were due to the varying levels of parental investment. This investment by the parent increased the offspring’s chance of survival. The qualities...
...What is evolutionarypsychology?
In the three and a half centuries since William Harvey proved that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, physiologists have revealed the functional organization of the body in blinding detail. Their discoveries demonstrate beyond question that the structure of the body serves survival and reproduction. Further, there is near unanimity among biologists that this functional structure is a product of natural selection. In our century, psychologists have developed powerful techniques that conclusively demonstrate that cognition, too, has structure. Evolutionary psychologists are betting that cognitive structure, like physiological structure, has been designed by natural selection to serve survival and reproduction.
Evolutionarypsychology focuses on the evolved properties of nervous systems, especially those of humans. Because virtually all tissue in living organisms is functionally organized, and because this organization is the product of evolution by natural selection, a major presumption of evolutionarypsychology is that the brain, too, is functionally organized, and best understood in evolutionary perspective. It is clear that the body is composed of a very large number of parts, and that each part is highly specialized to perform a specific function in service of the survival and reproduction of the organism. Using the...
Monday, September 30, 2013
In the articles I read, the origin of art is highly contested. However, that is irrelevant to the question of the evolutionary advantage of art creation. In strict Darwinian terms, selective advantage is a characteristic of an organism that enables it to survive and reproduce better than other organisms.1 Under this definition, there is a selective advantage for creating art. Creating art requires advanced cognitive dexterity and communication through display. Both of these skills are important towards survival and reproduction. But before answering the original question, we must answer a few first.
What is art? Although it is a drawn out cliché, the issue must be addressed. The best definition I could come up with is the combination of two definitions. Zaidel believes art attracts attention and elicits an aesthetic-related response.2 This definition is over-inclusive; if anything that attracts attention is art then is a traffic cone art? According to Haselberger, works of art are objects produced with the intention that they be aesthetically pleasing and not merely pragmatically functional.3 This definition is under inclusive, limiting art to solely be “pleasing”. Art attracts attention and elicits an aesthetic-related response but it is beyond functionality. This definition also helps to differentiate between art and tools, which are two similar but not equal things. Art is more...
...Discuss one or more evolutionary explanations of group display in humans. (25 marks)
Group display in humans has been studied by a variety of psychologists both classic and contemporary. Psychologists such as Le Bon believe that crowd behaviour is explained through the individual taking on the ‘psychology’ of the crowd’. Essentially, the actions of a crowd can be explained through situational factors, such as convergence in one location, or the result of normless situations where people look to others to see how to act when norms of behaviour are unavailable.
In both sports crowds and lynch mobs, the ‘psychology’ of the groups seems to ensure that the action is carried out with great emotion and loyalty to a cause. For example, in the last decades of the nineteenths century lynching of black people in the Southern states of USA was at an all-time high. Lynching became an institutional method used by white people to terrorise black people to maintain white supremacy. Therefore, it is clear that lynching was carried out as a result of loyalty to a cause and great emotion. This is supported by Blalock’s (1967) power-threat hypothesis which suggests that groups that pose a threat to the majority are more likely to be discriminated against and to be the subject of violent action. Lynching was an extreme form of discrimination, motivated by perceived racial threat. Similarly, Patterson (1999) claims that lynch mobs were more active...
...A2 Psychology Aggression Unit 3: Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression Notes
What You Need To Know:
Evolutionary Explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and jealousy
Explanations of group display in humans.
Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression:
From an evolutionary perspective, humans are most likely to survive if they have access to resources; they can defend their resources and protect their families; and if they can attract and gain access to mates.
Aggression in Males:
Males are motivated to acquire status since high status males have access to mates and resources for survival.
High status males are more likely to be selected by females since such males will be better able to guarantee the survival of her and her offspring.
Low status males have to engage in high risk strategies to enhance their chances of reproduction.
Daly and Wilson (1985) - a review of murders found that the motive behind most conflicts was status. The victims and offenders were most likely to be men of low status and without a mate (unemployed and unmarried). Most victims/offenders knew each other so understood the status of their rival. Those of equal status were more likely to resort to aggression to a bid to move their status above their opponent.
Aggression in Females:
Females are generally viewed as less aggressive since the costs of such behaviour outweigh the...
...The evolutionary approach suggests that our behaviour is determined through natural selection; therefore it is coded into our genes through how we have adapted. It is a biological approach and states nature over nurture. A criticism of this approach is that it is determinist as it suggests that the way we behave is dictated through natural selection, for example in gender roles men being strong hunters and wanting a younger female partner. It ignores other suggestions, such as how we are brought up and our environment playing a part in how we behave.
A traditional view is that men are hunters and women the gatherers and domestic, this is true for humans. If this role had changed then it could reduce their chances of survival. Kuhn and Stiner suggest that this division may explain why Homo sapiens survived while Neanderthals did not. Neanderthal diet was provided by both men and women hunters and there was no suggestion that they were farmers. Therefore if hunting was unsuccessful groups starved, and may have been a reason in which humans are here today, and not Neanderthals. Some common criticisms of evolutionary explanations are that they are determinist and ignore social explanations. There is also the suggestion that they don’t have a strong factual basis, for example they may have plausible explanations of gender roles through Neanderthals but have no direct evidence. Other explanations are just as plausible for their disappearance such...