Essay on Evolution: Natural Selection and Human Behavior

Submitted By kirstenmc89
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Pages: 3

Exam - Evolutionary Psychology Essay
In my opinion through researching this phenomenon/these phenomena (I agree/disagree)………re state the statement.
Evolutionary psychology’s (EP) concepts focus on how phenomena occur and what they are for, as opposed to the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM), which proposes that the human mind resembles a ‘blank slate’ at birth, virtually free of content until influenced by the environment. EP, however, posits that a full explanation of a human behaviour requires both evolutionary and environmental explanations together.
The SSSM is restrictive in its focus on the environmental influence on learning and behaviour, and is dismissive of biological and genetic influences. Infant reflexes show strong evidence against this approach. The rooting reflex present at birth, for example, helps an infant find their mother’s nipple, and is obviously an adaptive reflex to help the chances of survival. The rooting reflex, along with other innate reflexes at birth, provides strong evidence against the SSSM. Thus, such evolutionary factors are an important contribution to human behavior. EP posits that behavior is produced by specialized cognitive modules that evolved through natural selection in response to specific adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Many aspects of modern human behavior can be explained through an evolutionary perspective. For example, EP helps us understand sexual selection through its explanation of gender differences in attraction and mating relationships. Buss (1995) found that gender differences in mate preference today reflect gender differences that ancestral men and women faced when selecting a mate, with women found to prefer males with more masculine faces and bodies as short-term partners when they are most fertile, however, when searching for a long-term partner they prefer a more feminine looking male who represents resources and commitment. Men are found to prefer younger, attractive females, as women with these characteristics show signs of fertility, and therefore mean reproduction.
Sex differences in spatial cognition can be explained through EP. In hunter-gatherer times, males required the ability to hunt and thus had greater upper body strength and hunting skills such as spatial-rotation ability, while women gathered using their greater spatial location memory. Silverman and Eals (1992) found these same skills to be still evident today, with males outperforming females in spatial-rotation tasks and females outperforming males in spatial location memory tasks, thus showing the adaptation to hunting and gathering.
A criticism against EP is in relation to psychopathology. These behaviours are often considered maladaptive, and it could be assumed that the genes involved in these behaviours would not be selected for. However, many mental disorders can be considered as adaptive. Features of anxiety, for example,