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inherited solutions to the survival and reproductive problems posed by the hostile forces of nature. They are the primary product of the selective process.

intrasexual competition

members of the same sex compete with each other, and the outcome of their contest gives the winner greater sexual access to members of the opposite sex. The characteristics that lead to success in contests of this kind, such as greater strength, intelligence, or attractiveness to allies, evolve because the victors are able to mate more often and hence pass on more genes.

intersexual competition

members of one sex choose a mate based on their preferences for particular qualities in that mate. These characteristics evolve because animals that possess them are chosen more often as mates, and their genes thrive. Animals that lack the desired characteristics are excluded from mating.


packets of DNA that are inherited by children from their parents in distinct chunks. They are the smallest discrete unit that is inherited by offspring intact, without being broken up.

inclusive fitness theory

modern evolutionary theory based on differential gene reproduction. The characteristics that affect reproduction need not effect the personal production of offspring; the can affect the survival and reproduction of genetic relatives.

adaptive problem

anything that impedes survival or reproduction.

byproducts of adaptations

evolutionary mechanisms that are not adaptations but rather are by-products of other adaptations. Our nose, for example, is clearly an adaptation designed for smelling. But the fact that we use our nose to hold up our glasses is an incidental by-product.

evolutionary noises

random variations that are neutral with respect for selection.

domain specific

adaptations are presumed to be _______ in the sense that they are "designed" by the evolutionary process to solve a specialized adaptive problem.


the notion that our psychological mechanisms are designed to accomplish particular adaptive goals.

deductive reasoning approach

the top-down, theory-driven method of empirical research.

inductive reasoning approach

the bottom-up, data-driven method of empirical research.

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