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Evolutionary psychology

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q133-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2009
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Evolutionary psychology is a recent approach to understanding human psychology that takes as its starting point the fact that minds, just like hearts, kidneys, eyes, and thumbs, are the products of evolution. Evolutionary psychologists believe that an evolutionary perspective on psychology implies ontological and methodological commitments that sharply distinguish evolutionary psychology from other scientific theories of mind. Among the more important of these commitments are that minds consist of many (thousands, according to some) domain-specific modules that arose as adaptations during the Pleistocene epoch (roughly 1.8 million years to 11.5 thousand years ago). These adaptations are common to all human beings, and thus constitute a human nature. Study of these adaptations requires hypotheses about features of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA), as well as about which psychological properties exhibit adaptive complexity. Most celebrated by evolutionary psychologists are their discoveries in the areas of mate preferences, social exchange, and parent–offspring conflict. Critics have objected that evolutionary psychology is untestable because hypotheses about the EEA cannot be tested, that evolutionary psychology is adaptationist to a fault, and that commitment to the existence of a human nature is inconsistent with evolutionary theory.

Citing this article:
Shapiro, Lawrence. Evolutionary psychology, 2009, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q133-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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