evolutionary psychology

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evolutionary psychology

a branch of PSYCHOLOGY that seeks to identify universal human psychological mechanisms/ capacities by grounding exploration in a ‘reverse engineering’, in assumptions about those environments – specifically HUNTER-GATHERER society – in which human capacities will have evolved by Darwinian natural and sexual selection. It regards itself as far from neglecting CULTURE and learning, but as potentially providing a better grounding and understanding of these, not reductionistically, but in a manner which acknowledges ‘emergence’. Topics treated in this way, include LANGUAGE capacity, EXCHANGE, COOPERATION (see Barkow, Cosmides and Tooby). Although criticized by theorists such as Gould (19), as involving ‘just so stories ’, lacking crucial tests, evolutionary psychology presents itself as a ‘scientifically realist’ theory.