Published in: 2008
Evolutionary psychologists Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa try to answer questions that include dating, volunteering for war and becoming a billionaire. Many in social science believe that human behavior comes almost exclusively from the environment. The authors do not agree with this. Human behavior is neither 100% determined by genes nor the environment. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors come not only from personal experiences and environments during our lifetime, but also from what happened to our ancestors millions of years ago. The evolutionary theory is a new growing branch of science that began to take shape in the late 1980s.
A NEW QUESTION. Evolutionary psychology is the use of evolutionary biology for human behavior and is characterized by the following four principles that are in clear contrast to the principles of the standard social science model: (1) humans are animals, (2) there is nothing special about the human brain, (3) the human nature is inherent and (4) human behavior is the product of both inherent human nature and the environment.
CULTURE IS BIOLOGICAL. The great shortcoming of sociologists and others influenced by the Standard Social Science Model is the belief that man is completely malleable, capable of being indefinitely shaped by culture. Available evidence shows that it is wrong. Culture is unique to humans, but culture developed biologically and is a defense mechanism that evolution has provided us with to protect us.
THE SAVANNAH PRINCIPLE. The human body, including the brain, evolved millions of years ago on the African savannah and then elsewhere human beings moved. In this ancient environment, humans lived in groups of 150 people as hunter-gatherers. It is this environment that our body and brain were developed for. Over the last 10,000 years, our environment has changed too rapidly for our evolution to catch up.
“The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment”
THE OLD BRAIN MISUNDERSTANDS TODAY. A study has shown that people who watches certain types of television programs are more satisfied with their social life, by believing that they have more friends and socializes more frequently. According to the savannah principle, this is probably because the human brain was developed for a different environment and has difficulty distinguishing between real friends and characters we hang out with on TV. The savannah principle also suggests that we prefer sweet and fatty, which today makes us overweight, but used to be necessary for survival. The savannah principle is a relatively new theoretical model that is continuously tested and subjected to more rigorous experiments.
CONNECTS CRIME TO REPRODUCTION. The basic message in evolutionary psychology is that your preferences and needs for an ideal partner are strongly influenced by the forces of evolution. Daly and Wilson argue that male-male homicides often occur because of a (largely unconscious) need to defend status and reputation to improve their reproductive status in women. If women prefer to form partnerships with men with more resources, men can improve their situation through theft. Traditionally, most of the resources were concentrated among older men, which younger men were often excluded from accessing without breaking the rules.
AGE-GENIOUS CURVE. The age of 20-30 is the most productive if you believe in the “Age-Genius Curve”. Evolutionary psychologists believe that the cost of competition rises dramatically when someone has had a child and married. You have then invested in the conventional way and risk-taking is reduced. This is what Bill Gates, a writer and jazz musician, has in common with criminals. Criminologists have observed that criminals tend to stop committing crimes when they get married.
“Both crime and genious are expressions of young men’s competitive desires, whose ultimate function in the ancestral environment would have been to increase reproductive success”
GENDER DIFFERENCES. The authors of this book believe that gender differences are visible from the first day of life and highlight a study that showed that hour-old boys preferred to look at mechanical objects for a long time, while hour-old girls preferred to look at a human face. The authors also argue that men gain more from competing to gain access to partners. While reproductive success is equally important for both sexes (as it is for all animals), each child is more important to the female than to the male (as it is to all female mammals). Each child represents a much larger part of a woman’s lifelong reproductive potential.