Chapter

The evolved child: adapted to family life

David F Bjorklund and Patrick Douglas Sellers II

in Applied Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586073
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731358 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586073.003.0005
  The evolved child: adapted to family life

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While the influences of natural selection on human behaviour are most obvious in adulthood, selective pressures actively operate on humans across the entire lifespan, even prenatally, necessitating an examination of childhood from an evolutionary perspective. Application of evolutionary theory is especially important to an investigation of early childhood, as this time period is critical for cognitive and social development, particularly in response to familial interaction. We discuss research on child and family behaviour from an evolutionary developmental perspective, with particular emphasis on differences between family members in investment behaviours. We conclude by examining emerging research and theory related to differential susceptibility to rearing environments, which addresses how children’s early social environment plays a key role in setting developmental pathways, with significant implications for a variety of behaviours throughout childhood.

Keywords: child development; evolutionary developmental psychology; facultative adaptations; parental investment; differential sensitivity to experiences; biological sensitivity to context

Chapter.  13496 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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