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Evolutionary Psychology: Understanding Human Nature
Terms in this set (26)
the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection
they study what makes us so much alike as humans
Evolutionary psychologists use
Charles Darwin's principle of natural selection to understand the roots of behavior and mental processes
the principle that inherited traits that better enable an organism to survive and reproduce in a particular environment will (in competition with other trait variations) most likely be passed on to succeeding generations
Natural Selection simplified:
- organisms' varied offspring compete for survival
- certain biological and behavioral variations increase organisms' reproductive and survival chances in their particular environment
- offspring that survive are more likely to pass their genes to ensuing generations
- thus, over time, population characteristics may change
Natural selection at play in the fox experiment...
Russian scientist Belyaev set to work with 30 male and 100 female foxes. From their offspring, he selected and mated the tamest 5% of males and 20% of females. Over more than 30 generations of foxes repeated that procedure...40 years and 45,000 foxes later, they had a new breed of foxes that were "docile, eager to please, and domesticated...as the aggressive behavior of our herd's wild ancestors entirely disappeared. So friendly and eager for human contact that the institute seized on a way to raise funds--marketing its friendly foxes as house pets.
What principle does the fox experiment demonstrate?
Over time, traits that give an individual or a species a reproductive advantage are selected and will prevail.
Animal-breeding experiments manipulate
a random error in gene replication that lead to change
The tight genetic leash that predisposes a dog's retrieving or a cat's pouncing is looser on humans. The genes selected during our ancestral history provide more than a long leash; they give a great capacity to learn and therefore to ________, from the tundra to the jungle.
adapt to life in varied environments
Our adaptive ___________ in responding to different environments contributes to our _________—our ability to survive and reproduce.
How are Belyaev and Trut's breeding practices similar to, and how do they differ from, the way natural selection normally occurs?
Over multiple generations, Belyaev and Trut selected and bred foxes that exhibited a trait they desired: tameness. This process is similar to naturally occurring selection, but it differs in that natural selection is much slower, and normally favors traits (including those arising from mutations) that contribute to reproduction and survival.
The Second Darwinian Revolution
the application of evolutionary principles to psychology
- In concluding On the Origin of Species, Darwin anticipated this, foreseeing "open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation."
Having faced many similar challenges throughout history, males and females have adapted in similar ways: We eat the same foods, avoid the same dangers, and perceive, learn, and remember similarly. It is only in those domains where we have faced differing adaptive challenges—most obviously in behaviors related to reproduction—that we differ, say evolutionary psychologists.
sexual overperception bias
compared to women, men perceive more sexuality in cross-sex interactions
In an experiment, someone posing as a stranger approached people of the other sex and asked "Would you go to bed with me tonight?" Not a single woman agreed—but ___ of the men did. The research seemed to support an ________.
no women agreed
70% of men agreed;
Critics of the evolutionary explanation regarding sexuality differences amongst men and women argue that ______ offers a better, more immediate explanation for the results.
social learning theory
a culturally modeled guide for how to act in various situations
Social scripts (criticism against evolutionary explanation): by watching and imitating others in their culture, women may learn that sex with strangers can be dangerous and that casual sex may not offer much sexual pleasure. And men's reaction may reflect their learned scripts: "Real men" take advantage of every opportunity to have sex.
Evolutionary psychologists remind us that men and women, having faced similar adaptive problems, are
far more alike than different.
Evolutionary psychologists say that genes
are not destiny
According to evolutionary psychologists, natural selection has prepared us to be
evolutionary psychology's scientific goal is
to explain behaviors and mental traits by offering testable predictions and using principles of natural selection.
How do evolutionary psychologists explain male-female differences in sexuality?
Evolutionary psychologists theorize that females have inherited their ancestors' tendencies to be more cautious sexually because of the challenges associated with incubating and nurturing offspring. Males have inherited a tendency to be more casual about sex, because their act of fathering requires a smaller investment.
What are the three main criticisms of the evolutionary explanation of human sexuality?
(1) It starts with an effect and works backward to propose an explanation. (2) This explanation may overlook the effects of cultural expectations and socialization. (3) Men could use such explanations to rationalize irresponsible behavior toward women.
Behavior geneticists are most interested in exploring ___________ (commonalities/differences) in our behaviors. Evolutionary psychologists are most interested in exploring ___________ (commonalities/differences).
Evolutionary psychologists are most likely to focus on
the natural selection of traits that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce
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