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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Evolutionary psychology does appear to explain things that human sociobiology could not explain.
Wilson, a biologist who taught at Harvard for over four decades before his semiretirement in 1997, has carved out an influential career in several intellectual niches: as one of the world's leading authorities on ants and other social insects; as an exponent of the concepts of bio-diversity and "biophilia" (the latter being a deep, inborn human affinity for nature); and as a founder and popularizer of human sociobiology (also known by the roughly synonymous term "evolutionary psychology"), a school of thought that emphasizes genetic and Darwinian influences on culture and society.
For several years, human sociobiology thus carried on with its venture in isolation, not having to respond to anyone outside its own community.