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Evolutionary Psychology

Please provide some information on evolutionary psychology.

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1. Please provide some information on evolutionary psychology.

DEFINITION

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is a biological approach to the study of human behaviour. Along with cognitive psychologists, evolutionary psychologists propose that much, if not all, of human behaviour can be explained by appeal to internal psychological mechanisms. The thing that distinguishes evolutionary psychologists from many cognitive psychologists is the proposal that the relevant internal mechanisms are adaptations-products of natural selection-that helped our ancestors get around the world, survive and reproduce (Standard Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, see further discussion at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/).

According to the Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology is "an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it. In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors" (http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.cfm?term=Evolutionary%20Psychology).

RESEARCH AND METHODS

By definition, EP examines natural selection and how it favors behaviors that help keep a species going from one generation to the next. According to Gangestad (1995), evolutionary psychologists research the concept of "adaptations" uing the following methods:

"first identify the recurrent structure of ancestral environments; then to identify specific adaptive problems that this recurrent structure would have posed for our ancestors to have solved; then to specify particular psychological architecture that would have solved those adaptive problems; and then to assess the fit of the behavior that these psychological mechanisms produce across different environments" (p. 40, as cited in Seltin, 1998).

THEORETICAL TENETS OR ASSUMPTIONS

According to Tooby and Cosmides (2005), EP assumes the following TENETS:

1. The brain is a computer designed by natural selection to extract information from the environment.
2. Individual human behaviour is generated by this evolved computer in response to information it extracts from the environment. Understanding behaviour requires articulating the cognitive programs that generate the behaviour.
3. The cognitive programs of the human brain are adaptations. They exist because they produced behaviour in our ancestors that enabled them to survive and reproduce.
4. The cognitive programs of the human brain may not be adaptive now; they were adaptive in ancestral environments.
5. Natural selection ensures that the brain is composed of many different special purpose programs and not a domain general architecture.
6. Describing the evolved computational architecture of our brains "allows a systematic understanding of cultural and social phenomena?(Tooby & Cosmides, 2005).

Expanding on these tenets:

o Tenet 1 emphasizes the cognitivism that evolutionary psychologists are committed to.

o In combination with 2 directs our attention as researchers not to parts of the brain but to the programs run by the brain. It is these programs-psychological mechanisms-that are products of natural selection. While they are products of natural selection, and hence adaptations, these programs need not be currently adaptive. Our behaviour can be produced by underlying psychological mechanisms that arose to respond to particular circumstances in our ancestors' environments.

o Yenet 5 presents what is often called the "massive modularity thesis?(See e.g. Samuels 1998; Samuels 2000, as cited in Standard Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, see further discussion at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/).

o There is a lot packed into tenet 5, so much research is focused on examining this thesis in some detail (Standard Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, see further discussion at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/).In brief, evolutionary psychologists maintain that there is an analogy between organs and ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides ample information on evolutionary psychology, suh as definition, assumptions, areas of research, research methods and others.

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