Evolution and Evolutionary Psychology:
Their Application to Close Relationships
Kevin D. Wu
University of Iowa
It is the business of science to understand, explain, predict, and sometimes even alter the many phenomena our world has to offer. Scientists are curious people, and they seek answers to many questions, both big and small. This is true of people who work within the biological sciences, as well as within the social or behavioral sciences, and it is certainly true of psychologists. Indeed, through the answering of many questions over the past decades of study, we know vastly more than we did only a few academic generations ago. Such prosperity has led to the diversification of psychology into specialized disciplines; clinical, social, cognitive, and developmental programs of study address very different types of questions through very different means. At times, it can be difficult to find the link that binds them together as variations of the same broad science. Every so often, however, a question is posed that bridges the gap between disciplines. This type of question causes us to pause and really consider whether what we know is sufficient to allow a reasonable answer. Consider these: How did human life begin? How did our culture become what it is? These questions provide that elusive link and are the very questions that scholars of evolution have been attempting to answer for over a century.
In 1859, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published. Perhaps not the first author to discuss the theory of evolution, Darwin's recognized contribution was his formulation of the mechanism by which evolution takes place—namely, natural selection. The theory of natural selection maintains that the objective of life is to navigate through a compet-