Outline the processes involved in the evolution and discuss how evolutionary psychologists have contributed our understanding of altruism as adaptive behaviour.
Evolutionary psychology emerged from the studies of human behaviour and psychological characteristic through a scientific approach. By using a variety of methods and a range of different evidence, evolutionary psychologists attempts to understand how the human characteristic may have evolved. This essay will outline the processes involved in the evolution and discuss how evolutionary psychologists have contributed our understanding of altruism as adaptive behaviour. Evolution occurs over a very long period of time. There are many processes involved in evolution, such as genetic transmission and diversity and selection over many generations. The coding structure called genes provides each individual with the unique physic and characteristics, and we pass some of these genetic characteristics on to the next generation through the process of sexual reproduction. However, due to many external factors, the sequence of our genes (DNA) may occasionally be altered through the diversity of mutation. Although most mutations are proved to be harmful, these mutation may introduce changes of the genes being passed on to the next generation, hence, the process of selection ensures the survival of advantage on the individual through the genes we carry, Dawkins’ (1976) the ‘selfish gene’ theory highlights individual as the carriers of the genes which are passed on to the offspring (Clegg, 2007, p121). Natural selection enables physical and behavioural characteristics being passed on to descendants, and sexual selection works by the access of the quality and quantity of mate availability due to the individual differences in physical and psychological traits (Clegg, 2007, p124). Evolutionary psychologists sought to study and identifying which psychological characteristic and behaviour are evolved, to understand their...
References: Clegg, H. (2007) ‘Evolutionary Psychology’, in Miell, D., Phoenix, A. and Thomas, K. (ed.) Mapping Psychology, Milton Keyes, The Open University.
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