What Is Evolutionary Psychology?

I just got myself a shipment of new books in the mail.  I opened up a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time: David Buss’s Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science Of Mind.   I can already tell I’m going to like this book a lot.  If any of you are unaware of what Evolutionary Psychology is about, well, I’ll quote directly from the book’s introduction,

Evolutionary psychology focuses on four key questions: (1) Why is the mind designed the way it is-that is, what causal processes created, fashioned, or shaped the human mind into its current form? (2) How is the human mind designed-what are its mechanisms or component parts, and how are they organized? (3) What are the functions of the component parts and their organized structure-that is, what is the mind designed to do? (4) How does input from the current environment interact with the design of the human mind to produce observable behavior?

Contemplating the mysteries of the human mind is not new. Ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and Plato wrote manifestos on the subject. More recently, theories of the human mind such as the Freudian theory of psychoanalysis, the Skinnerian theory of reinforcement, and connectionism have vied for the attention of psychologists.

Only within the past few decades have we acquired the conceptual tools to synthesize our understanding of the human mind under one unifying theoretical framework-that of evolutionary psychology. This discipline pulls together findings from all disciplines of the mind, including those of brain imaging; learning and memory; attention, emotion, and passion; attraction, jealousy, and sex; self-esteem, status, and self-sacrifice; parenting, persuasion, and perception; kinship, warfare, and aggression; cooperation, altruism, and helping; ethics, morality, and medicine; commitment, culture, and consciousness. This book offers an introduction to evolutionary psychology and provides a road map to this new science of the mind.

I also acquired me a box load of books related to neuroscience and visual cognition.  I’m going to have quite a bit of free time coming up this coming week and next month in particular.  It’s time to do some reading!

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