Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Science: Evolutionary Psychology Primer

You may or may have noticed that I am into evolution(ary psychology). Big time...

Just in case I ever gather enough courage to throw in my tupence worth, here's an instructive excerpt from a very good EP primer (by Cosmides and Tooby, here). Just so we know what we're talking about:
Debates about the “relative contribution” during development of “nature” and “nurture” have been among the most contentious in psychology. The premises that underlie these debates are flawed, yet they are so deeply entrenched that many people have difficulty seeing that there are other ways to think about these issues.

Evolutionary psychology is not just another swing of the nature/nurture pendulum. A defining characteristic of the field is the explicit rejection of the usual nature/nurture dichotomies — instinct vs. reasoning, innate vs. learned, biological vs. cultural. What effect the environment will have on an organism depends critically on the details of its evolved cognitive architecture. For this reason, coherent “environmentalist” theories of human behavior all make “nativist” claims about the exact form of our evolved psychological mechanisms. For an EP, the real scientific issues concern the design, nature, and number of these evolved mechanisms, not “biology versus culture” or other malformed oppositions.
I have found this via this excellent Evolutionary Psychology blog. Highly recommended...