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Integrating Evolutionary Biology into the Study of Human Behavior

 
 
Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 06:56 am
Scholars have explored human behavior in terms of the processes of evolutionary biology. Social Darwinism and Sociobiology were heavily criticized as models to describe individual and social behaviors.

In the last twenty years a new theoretical perspective has emerged -- evolutionary psychology. Its major premise is that psychological adaptations have evolved in humans in response to issues such as survival and reproduction.

Is this approach valid? Does it contribute insights into human behavior? Is it merely pseudoscience?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 1,215 • Replies: 8
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 08:11 am
@wandeljw,
I found this talk by Steven Pinker to be pretty persuasive:



but I have seen some pretty far out ideas attributed to evolutionary psychology.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 11:37 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
In the last twenty years a new theoretical perspective has emerged -- evolutionary psychology. Its major premise is that psychological adaptations have evolved in humans in response to issues such as survival and reproduction.

So the implication is that certain physiological conditions of the brain are related to psychological conditions? Is that what Evolutionary Psychology claims?

Or are they implying/claiming that Psychological behaviors/conditions emerge directly as a response to the DNA even if there are no Physiological conditions in association with them?
wandeljw
 
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Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 12:59 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

wandeljw wrote:
In the last twenty years a new theoretical perspective has emerged -- evolutionary psychology. Its major premise is that psychological adaptations have evolved in humans in response to issues such as survival and reproduction.

So the implication is that certain physiological conditions of the brain are related to psychological conditions? Is that what Evolutionary Psychology claims?

Or are they implying/claiming that Psychological behaviors/conditions emerge directly as a response to the DNA even if there are no Physiological conditions in association with them?


Researchers in this field are probably not able to specifically describe the genetic basis for a psychological adaptation at this time and must wait for advances in molecular genetics. Phenomena such as the common fear of snakes indicate that this trait has been selected for and passed on because it increases chances for survival.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 01:17 pm
@wandeljw,
The brain is a biological organ. Like all of our other organs, it evolved with a process of natural selection. I don't think this is controversial at all (it seems obvious).

Language, social interaction, cognitive skill, mating behavior and so many other parts of human behavior are obviously evolved.

This is accepted science, I don't think it is even controversial. This also has absolutely nothing to do with social darwinism.
Foofie
 
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Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 05:17 pm
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

Phenomena such as the common fear of snakes indicate that this trait has been selected for and passed on because it increases chances for survival.


Is this Jung's archetypal behavior in a new wrapper?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 05:44 pm
@maxdancona,
Actually it is pretty controversial.

A while back I started reading (but gave up on because some of it seemed terribly subjective) "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters" -- a book by the leading evolutionary psychologists. People were really outraged by this book, just as they've been outraged over Steven Pinker's books.

For example, some people were using EP as a justification for rape -- that raping women was a natural impulse of all men and that if they'd just admit it and deal with it then there wouldn't be any more rape.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Apr, 2013 05:55 pm
@boomerang,
I don't think it is scientifically controversial.

There are lots of things in science (e.g. evolution and global warming) that are disputed because they go against non-scientific beliefs . But there is a clear scientific consensus that many parts of human behavior are the result of evolution.

Also, I haven't heard any scientists using EP as a justification for rape. I have heard people say that rape is a part of human nature as it evolved. That doesn't justify rape, it only helps explain it.
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Jpsy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Dec, 2013 03:57 am
@maxdancona,
I think maxdancona got it right. To anyone whose studied evolution, the ideas developed in evolutionary psychology should not be controversial, in fact they should be common sense. In fact many of the ideas originated with evolutionary biologists. Unfortunately, this encroaches into the social scientists' territory, and points out flaws in the current social science zeitgeist, so they are fighting back hard. But to anyone who has studied evolution this should be common sense.

In fact even Darwin recognized this.
In On the Origin of Species Darwin wrote:
‘In the distant future I see open fields for more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.’

Two of my favorite subjects are psychology and evolution, so naturally I bought an evolutionary psychology textbook. I've read about half of it, and everything in it makes sense. And that nonsense about EP condoning rape is ridiculous. Facts are facts. Men are more likely to commit rape than women and EP have a good evolutionary explanation for it. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't excuse male rapists. If anything, knowing why some men are driven to rape can help us come up with better solutions to reduce rape. ignorance is not bliss in this case. They said similar things about evolution and atheism. Atheists will have no morals and will rape and murder at will. A majority of the people in Japan are atheists, and they have very low crime rates. America is very religious and our crime statistics are much worse than Japan. It does not mean we are 100% controlled by our genes. Although men have a stronger impulse to rape than women, doesn't mean they can't stop themselves. It doesn't mean culture is not important. I will share some interesting studies from my EP book later, but it is a fascinating and extremely important subject.


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