Human evolutionary psychology and animal behaviour Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Homo sapiens is increasingly being studied within the evolutionary (adaptationist, selectionist) framework favoured by animal behaviour researchers. There are various labels for such work, including evolutionary psychology, human behavioural ecology and human sociobiology. Collectively, we call these areas 'human evolutionary psychology' (HEP) because their shared objective is an evolutionary understanding of human information processing and decision making. Sexual selection and sex differences have been especially prominent in recent HEP research, but many other topics have been addressed, including parent-offspring relations, reciprocity and exploitation, foraging strategies and spatial cognition. Many HEP researchers began their scientific careers in animal behaviour, and in many ways, HEP research is scarcely distinguishable from other animal behaviour research. Currently controversial issues in HEP, such as the explanation(s) for observed levels of heritable diversity, the kinds of data needed to test adaptationist hypotheses, and the characterization of a species-typical 'environment of evolutionary adaptedness', are issues in animal behaviour as well. What gives HEP a distinct methodological flavour is that the research animal can talk, an ability that has both advantages and pitfalls for researchers. The proper use of self-reports and other verbal data in HEP might usefully become a subject of future research in its own right. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

publication date

  • March 1999