Comparative Evolutionary Psychology: A United Discipline for the Study of Evolved Traits

Jennifer Vonk and Todd K. Shackelford

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

 Comparative Evolutionary Psychology: A United Discipline for the Study of Evolved Traits

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Several themes have emerged from the chapters in this volume. Some tensions exist between researchers seeking to answer questions concerning the adaptive purpose of human and nonhuman behaviors and capacities, and researchers seeking to shed light on the evolutionary forces giving rise to such traits. These tensions may be dissipated if several unnecessary dichotomies are avoided and researchers thereby embraced nonmutually exclusive stances to different methodological and theoretical approaches. We suggest that those studying humans and/ or nonhumans—whether in the field or in the lab, with large numbers of participants or with few, from a behaviorist or nativist standpoint, asking questions about structure or function, stressing continuity or discontinuity—focus less on absolutes and existing dogma, and more on openness and objectivity. We suggest that, if all researchers with similar goals unite under the single unifying framework of evolutionary theory, many more advances can be made and a more focused field of study will emerge.

Keywords: evolutionary framework; dichotomy; unifying; tensions

Article.  10631 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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