Evolved Cognitive Adaptations

Aaron N. Sell

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738182
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Evolved Cognitive Adaptations

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Psychology has frequently drawn on animal behavior for insights into the human mind, but the central theory of biology, that of natural selection, has yet to be fully incorporated into the primary comparative psychology literature. This chapter reviews the adaptationist program (Williams, 1966), a method that allows psychologists to use theories and insights developed in evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology to map the computational architecture of the human mind. As an example of the adaptationist program at work, I review a long standing problem in perceptual psychology: the inconsistent evidence for the ability to assess height and weight from the voice, and then show how the application of this method allows us to derive the hypothesis that the human mind contains cognitive mechanisms for the assessment of formidability. A series of tests of this theory are then reviewed.

Keywords: formidability; evolutionary psychology; adaptationist program; voice; comparative psychology

Article.  13589 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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