Human and Hunter Gatherers

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Evolutionary psychology

Tooby and Cosmides (1992) definition p.107

Attempts to include all disciplines of psychology under an umbrella which covers all – why a phenomenon exists and how that would be helpful to pass on as an adaptive function, i.e., evolution. Interest is in why some phenomena exist and what function they served and how they help us to pass on our genes. Scientific approach, i.e. quantifiable, used. Evidence is gathered from research into: * Archaeological evidence

* Genetic evidence
* Studies on non-human primates
* Universality
* Hunter gatherers
* Modern human populations

1. Archaeological evidence.
Fossil evidence: Shape of skull, indicating brain size, body shape indicating diet, body size to indicate male or female. Fossil evidence from animal skeletons provides evidence of co-operative hunting. Artefacts: tools, beads, musical instruments, suggest psychological development. Cave paintings frequently depict the type of animals which were important. 2. Genetic evidence.

For any characteristic to have evolved there must be a genetic, heritable component, otherwise it would not have survived. Cooking food and everyday learning are examples of behaviours which are not genetic. 3. Studies on non-human primates.

If chimps possess evidence of a shared ability with humans, then this suggests that ability was present in common ancestor. However, captive bred chimps can learn from human behaviours. 4. Universality.

If a psychological trait is found across cultures this would suggest that it was an evolved trait, and therefore genetic. But this is not proof of genetic transmission, see food as an example of universality. 5. Hunter Gatherers.

Due to the short evolutionary time span between hunter gathering and the move to farming, evolutionary psychologists base their assumptions of the development of the human mind and brain on the time taken to adapt to the hunter gatherer way of life(Tooby and Cosmides, 1989, 1992). Like chimps, hunter gatherers have evolved since splitting from common ancestors, and are modern humans living that lifestyle while in contact with industrial and agricultural societies and not living in isolation. 6. Modern human populations

Understanding the functions of psychological functions helps understand their adaptive function and therefore their evolution. * Men value physical attraction more than women. This is common across cultures(universality?) * The attributes are WHR, symmetry, skin tone.

* A good WHR is an indicator of health and fertility.
* Physical attractiveness is not a factor for women choosing partners as male fertility does not decline with age. * Culture often defines what is attractive.

Summary for section 1, p. 116
Genes are constructed of sequences of DNA, and are strung along chromosomes. In each cell there are 23 pairs of chromosomes, making 46 in all. The exception is gametes, i.e. eggs or sperm which carry only one of each pair. p.118 for criticism of evolutionary psychology. And page 123, par.3 The ability to learn is argued as innate and we are predisposed to learn and thus cope better with the environment (Barret et al.). p. 121 for definition of natural selection.

The most successful individuals in any society will survive longer and have more opportunity to pass on genes. As these genes will be passed on, natural selection can be said to have occurred. An adaptation can be identified by:

* Evidence that it increases survivability or reproductive success; * It is universal;
* It is efficient or economical in calorific cost.
An example of an adaptation which is potentially negative is the desire for sweet and fatty foods which would have been needed in prehistoric times to supplement the diet; this now leads to obesity in societies where food is plentiful. A modern phenomenon which we have not developed an adaptation to is death by car. Cars kill more people than...
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