Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications

Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications

Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications

Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications


Evolutionary psychology is concerned with the adaptive problems early humans faced in ancestral human environments, the nature of psychological mechanisms natural selection shaped to deal with those ancient problems, and the ability of the resulting evolved psychological mechanisms to deal with the problems people face in the modern world. Evolutionary psychology is currently advancing our understanding of altruism, moral behavior, family violence, sexual aggression, warfare, aesthetics, the nature of language, and gender differences in mate choice and perception. It is helping us understand the relationship between cognitive science, developmental psychology, behavior genetics, personality, and social psychology.

Foundations of Evolutionary Psychologyprovides an up-to-date review of the ideas, issues, and applications of contemporary evolutionary psychology. It is suitable for senior undergraduates, first-year graduate students, or professionals who wish to become conversant with the major issues currently shaping the emergence of this dynamic new field. It will be interesting to psychologists, cognitive scientists, and anyone using new developments in the theory of evolution to gain new insights into human behavior.


A decade has passed since the publication of Sociobiology and Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications, the predecessor of this volume. The evolutionary analysis of human behavior has made considerable progress during those years. When the original volume was published, much of the controversy growing out of the study of sociobiology revolved around the putative political implications of applying the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection to the study of human behavior. The intensity of this debate has moderated in recent years because many critics now realize the political ramifications of sociobiology are no more, or no less, than those of other approaches to the study of human behavior, such as behaviorism., psychoanalysis, or cognitive science. Controversy remains, but it is scientific, concerning how to best use the theory of evolution in the study of human behavior and whether any of the current evolutionary approaches to the study of human behavior can be fruitful.

Some researchers, known as Darwinian anthropologists or Darwinian social scientists, focus on the study of reproductive success in industrialized and current hunter-gatherer societies. They use the methods of animal behavioral ecology to help understand human adaptations and adaptedness. Other researchers, known as evolutionary psychologists or Darwinian psychologists, focus on the naturally selected design of psychological mechanisms. For them, the application of evolutionary theory to human behavior is concerned with the problems humans encountered in their ancestor environments, the psychological mechanisms natural selection designed to deal with those problems, and the way the evolved psychological mechanisms function in our current environment. Although they use standard methods of psychology in their work, they also call on methods used by anthropologists, behavioral ecologists, and ethologists. Although both approaches are valuable, this book is most representative of those taking a psychological approach to the study of evolution and human behavior.

Psychology spans that part of the behavioral sciences extending from sociology, through social psychology, personality theory, learning, perception, motivation, and developmental psychology, to the biological disciplines of ethology, genetics, and neurophysiology. Because many subdisciplines of psychology have at least some roots in biology, psychology is ideally situated to assist in the integration of evolutionary thinking into the human behavioral sciences. Moreover, psychology . . .

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