Is evolutionary psychology real

Evolutionary psychology - the person who consciously realizes his “given”

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As is well known, psychology is the science of human behavior and experience.

There are different research and explanatory approaches that support each other in their endeavors to help the individual to better recognize and achieve his goals and to live in harmonious relationships with his social environment. Every empirical science lives from the fact that historically newer models can explain and predict certain facets of reality more accurately than the older models. The newer paradigm always has the chance to prevail against the old one, until some time later another newer paradigm can explain certain aspects of reality even better.

It was by no means easy for evolutionary psychology (EP) of the early 1990s to find recognition alongside the established cognitive psychological approach, as the cognitive turn of the 1970s suggested to people the welcome assumption that they would receive all of the information flowing into them, a huge one Analyze computer-like, matter-of-factly and rationally, in order to then make the best possible decision based on the available knowledge: People could understand everything and have everything under control.

However, the multiple irrationality of human behavior raised considerable doubts about this, sometimes a little bloodless, image of man. So a courageous group of young researchers around Leda Cosmides, Margo Wilson, MargieProfet in the USA (and their colleagues in Germany, such as Doris Bischof-Köhler, Margarete Schleidt, or Johanna Uher) and their colleagues started the new branch Expand EP. This transdisciplinary approach integrates the knowledge that was only available at the end of the 20th century, among others. depth psychology, ethology, ethnology, comparative cultural anthropology, game and systems theory, neural networks, psychoneuroimmunology and molecular genetics. In contrast to sociobiology, the EP is a hypothesis-led, strictly experimental science.

The subject matter of the EP is those behavioral tendencies that are common to all human beings, that are common to all human species. This rules out any possible discrimination (such as that based on the descent of an individual). The term “race” was used under ideological delusion and with the well-known fatal consequences in the first half of the 20th century. (Here, for a readership who knows German history, only one less well-known example is referred to: The President of the Association of American Psychologists (APA), Stanley Hall, laments the First World War because of the destruction of what he calls the "great Nordic." race "[Hall, GS (1917). Practical relations between psychology and the war.Journal of Applied Psychology, 1, 6-13]). “Race” does not appear in the EP as either a term or a concept.

Does an evolutionary psychologist speak of "evolved behavioral tendencies", that is, of those that result in adaptation to the environmental conditions of the early ancestors all Humans have developed, so he does not have to be a follower of Darwinism, that is, believe in the fact that humans are descended from "apes". It is only assumed that behavioral tendencies that are effective today have a long history of origin.

The EP makes it clear that concrete behavior is triggered by a whole series of factors, which include not only conscious reflection and free will, but also environmental, historical, cultural, situational and learning-historical factors. In addition, there is our "default" to react to challenges that our species has successfully mastered for thousands of generations, initially in the way that has been proven for thousands of years. Experiments by Öhmann, Erixon and Lofberg on the learning theory concept of readiness show, for example, that we can learn to fear snakes much more easily and sustainably than houses. Our present environment in the anonymous mass society differs considerably from that of the tribal society of the Southeast African savannah of the early Stone Age, in which certain behavioral tendencies that have been tried and tested a thousand times over could spread as beneficial. We have moved away from our original living conditions: accordingly, some unreflected “modern” behavioral tendencies seem crazy. At the time it was indeed sensible not to get too close to a poisonous snake, modern youngsters are hurting themselves if they prefer to stay away from the tent camp with their friends in fear of encountering a blindworm. From our life today it is hard to understand why the gossip columns about the members of the "high society" are read so greedily. This eyeing of the tribal leaders only makes sense in the life context of our ancestors.

Such “preferences” become particularly explosive for the responsible social scientist when they run counter to the principle of equal treatment of democratic societies. But it is precisely this danger that you expose yourself to if you ignore or even deny the findings of evolutionary psychology. An example: If you ask a judge whether the appearance of the accused is relevant for reaching a verdict and for the sentence, they answer with a clear “no”. If one gives the same course of events with the photo of a very good-looking or very poor-looking "defendant" from independent assessments, there is a very significant difference in the sentence in favor of the good-looking. Efran was able to replicate this finding over and over again, regardless of the gender of the judge or the defendant. This is de facto discrimination based on appearance. As soon as this tendency is made aware of the judges and evidenced, they can willfully compensate for it so that the accused are now judged fairly. Even students can only count on a fair exam if their examiners consciously reflect on what reactions their appearance would otherwise trigger in them. Buss' findings show that a highly elegant candidate in an Armani suit could be perceived by a male examiner as higher-ranking competition, who needs to be shown that the examiner is the “boss”. Accordingly, he examines him penetratingly, unless he knows about the corresponding EP findings and can consciously counteract this "temptation".

Evolutionary psychologists are often asked whether we are now "slaves" to our tried and tested behavioral programs. The answer is: by no means! In the face of an extremely attractive person of the right gender for us, for example, we can consciously slow down our budding romantic interest at any time and say "no" if this partnership is supposed to be of a professional nature and not a couple. On the other hand, we still have to meet the woman or man who is only able to successfully decide by virtue of his / her conscious decision to fall in love with someone on the basis of “rational” arguments, if that person does not display any characteristics that make it clear that she could have been a good mother or father to healthy children in the Stone Age.

The EP is often misunderstood to mean that only one behavior pattern is designed for certain situations. In reality, a large number of behavioral tendencies evolved for the variety of constellations our ancestors faced. In this respect, our behavioral repertoire is more like a recipe book than a single recipe. The findings of the EP can help create the conditions for the “book” to be opened on the desired page. In order to get people to cooperate and show solidarity, it is more effective to know the life-saving evolutionary relevance of these behaviors and to be able to shape the situation in the present accordingly than to raise the moral index finger. Thus, the aim of the EP is to provide people with those conditions that enable them to consciously avoid behavioral tendencies that have become inappropriate today and to draw on the fullness of what they have "given", the wealth of experience of their ancestors.

Standard work:

Barkow, J., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). The adapted mind.Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture.: University Press.

Excerpts from: Controversiessurroundingevolutionarypsychologyof Edward H. Hagen, Humboldt University Berlin (complete text)

Political correctness

In 1632, Galileo's Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic & Copernican was published in. The Dialogue effectively argued that Copernican theory was the factually superior theory of cosmology. Because the major moral / political power of the day, the Catholic Church, had grounded its authority in the Ptolemaic theory, Galileo’s Dialogue was a threat. Galileo was summoned before the Inquisition in 1633, found to be vehemently suspect of heresy, forced to formally abjure, and condemned to life imprisonment.

Like the Church, a number of contemporary thinkers have also grounded their moral and political views in scientific assumptions about the world. In the current case, these are scientific assumptions about human nature, specifically that there isn’t one (Pinker 2002). Theories calling these assumptions into question are, like Galileo's Dialog ue, a threat. The problem, of course, is not with those who claim that there is a human nature, it is with those who have succumbed to the temptation to ground their politics in scientifically testable assumptions about humans. This is especially unwise because the science of human psychology is currently quite undeveloped.

There are few solid facts and no proven theories about our behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Any set of assumptions will undoubtedly be challenged by future research. Yet the inevitable research that calls into question assumptions underlying popular moral and political views will, in effect, be heresy, and heresies are, as a rule, viciously attacked. As long as important political and moral views are grounded in scientific hypotheses, a true science of human cognition and behavior will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to achieve.

Is evolutionary psychology racist or sexist?

Perhaps the most important enlightenment value, one intimately bound up with the blank slate view of human nature, is that of human equality. If EP poses a severe threat to the blank slate, and it does (Pinker 2002), does it not also pose a severe threat to this rightly cherished value? Let me put off answering this question for a moment, and first explain what EP says, scientifically, about the equality of human capabilities. The answer is simple and by now easily guessed by the reader. Across the globe, human bodies are in their functional organization, virtually identical. People in every population have hearts, lungs, and livers, and they all work the same way. A pan-human anatomy is a solid empirical fact. EP proposes that the same evolutionary processes that lead to a pan-human anatomy also lead to a pan-human psychology (Tooby and Cosmides 1990; see Wilson 1994 for a partial critique). Notwithstanding the above, it is possible for different populations to possess minor adaptive physical differences like skin color, so it is also theoretically possible for different populations to possess minor adaptive cognitive differences, though no such differences are known to exist. Just as anatomists have prioritized a focus on pan-human anatomy, EP has prioritized a focus on pan-human psychology.

Similarly, male and female bodies are identical in most ways, but profoundly different in some. Male and female hearts are essentially identical, but testicles are very different from ovaries. EP proposes that the same is true of the brain. Male and female cognitive abilities are likely to be identical in most respects, but to differ fundamentally in domains like mating where the sexes have recurrently faced different adaptive problems (Buss 2004).

If you consider these implications to be racist or sexist, then evolutionary psychology is racist or sexist. Nothing in evolutionary theory, however, privileges one group over another, or males over females. Are ovaries superior to testicles? The question is meaningless. Are male mate preferences superior to female mate preferences? The question is equally meaningless.

Is evolutionary psychology a form of genetic determinism?

Critics often accuse evolutionary psychologists of genetic determinism, and, in one sense, they are right. It is telling evidence of a pervasive dualism, though, that anatomists escape this abuse. Although the processes whereby genetic information directs the development of bodily functions are still largely unknown, there are compelling empirical and theoretical reasons to believe that there are genes for arms, legs, and lungs. Because all humans (with rare exceptions) have arms, legs, and lungs that are built the same way, we can surmise that we all share essentially the same genes for these limbs and organs. The universal architecture of the body is genetically specified in this sense. Since psychological adaptations like vision are no different from other adaptations in this regard, they, too, are genetically specified human universals.

This, however, is not what is usually meant by ‘genetically determined.’ Sometimes what is meant is that behavior is genetically determined. But genetically determined mechanisms does not imply genetically determined behavior. Just as a genetically determined universal skeletal architecture of bones and muscles can perform a huge variety of new and different movements, so too can a genetically determined universal psychological architecture that evolved to be exquisitely attuned to local environmental circumstances produce countless behavioral outcomes in different individuals with different experiences and in different situations. If the brain had only twenty independent mechanisms, each of which could be in only one of two states set by local environmental conditions, the brain would have 220 , or about a million, different states and, potentially, a corresponding number of different behaviors. Because the EP model of the brain posits a very large number of innately specified mechanisms (perhaps hundreds or thousands), most of which are sensitive to environmental conditions, the brain could potentially be in any one of an astronomically large number of different states with different behavior outcomes, even if many of these modules were not independent of one another. EP’s model of a genetically determined, massively modular brain predicts far too much behavioral flexibility and diversity, not too little.

Why do people hate evolutionary psychology?

Slavish support for reigning political and moral attitudes is a sure sign of scientific bankruptcy. It is reassuring, then, that EP has something to offend just about everyone. Surely you, the reader, if you are not already a jaded evolutionary psychologist, are offended by at least one of EP's speculations that there might be innate, genetically based adaptations hardwired into our brains for rape, homicide, infanticide, war, aggression, exploitation , infidelity, and deception.

I know what. If, further, you would like to see these plagues wiped from the face of the earth, you might understandably be sympathetic to critics who advance something like the following syllogism, which appears to underlie most criticisms of EP:

I [the critic] want political change, which requires changing people. Evolutionary psychologists argue that people have innate and unchangeable natures, so they must therefore be opposed to social or political change, and are merely attempting to scientifically justify the status quo.

If EP predicted that social or political change were impossible, then it would be wrong on its face. The tremendous amount of social and political change over the course of human history is irrefutable. This is no real mystery. Consider a hypothetical population of organisms whose natures ’are completely genetically specified and unchangeable. Suppose, further, that these organisms have a number of identical preferences and desires, all unchangeable, but, because resources are limited, not all individuals can fulfill their desires. These creatures are therefore often in conflict with one another. Suppose, finally, that these organisms have the ability to negotiate. It is not hard to see that even if individuals ’natures are unchangeable, social outcomes are not. Because our hypothetical organisms are able to negotiate, they are (potentially) able to form social arrangements that are equitable, fairly dividing resources and punishing individuals who violate these agreements. When circumstances change, new agreements can be forged.

Circumstances want change, so social change is inevitable despite the creatures ’unchangeable natures. In fact, it is their genetically determined, unchangeable cognitive ability to negotiate that guarantees social change! Because humans, too, can negotiate, and can also dramatically ‘tune’ their individual, innate, psychological architectures based on their past experiences and current circumstances, the possibilities for social change are multiplied thousandfolds.