How Has Evolution Affected Our Psychology?
Dr. Dan Kuebler is a molecular biologist, professor and author. An expert on evolution, in this series of interviews he discusses some of the potential consequences of our evolutionary history on human behavior. This specific field of evolutionary theory, otherwise called evolutionary psychology, studies the cognitive traits and habits that aided in the survival of mankind. Examples of evolutionary psychology can often be categorized as follows.
Evolutionary Psychology Example: In-Group/Out-Group Bias
One of the most apparent and observable evolutionary psychology examples is in-group/out-group bias. Since our species evolved in small, cooperative groups that competed with other groups of hominids, bias for our own perceived tribe may be hardwired into human psychology. However, we also have the ability to recognize this evolutionary bias and make a conscious effort to act in a way that aligns with contemporary normative principles of inclusivity and cultural awareness.
Evolutionary Psychology Example: Food
The next evolutionary psychology example happens to be in our gut! There's evidence that suggests that because our species evolved in environments where food was scarce, we may have developed appetites that crave very substantial and satisfying foods, which is why hunting was commonplace. Today many people face an abundance of food rather than scarcity, thus they often need to resist these evolutionary cravings and opt to eat nutritious and balanced portions of food from the plethora of options available.
Evolutionary Psychology Example: Sexuality
Similarly, evolutionary history may affect human sexual behavior. In this video, Dr. Dan Kuebler explains the evolutionary psychology example of sexuality and the complexity of our evolutionary history. While this background may affect how humans behave today, we have a variety of prehistoric ancestors who displayed a wide spectrum of tendencies and behaviors.
Evolutionary Psychology Example: Anxiety
Another highly identifiable evolutionary psychology example is that of anxiety. Among the myriad of negative emotions humans are subject to, anxiety is one emotion which is hardwired into human behavior. Anxiety existed in our ancestors as a survival mechanism for the means of being alert for the threat of predators. Especially during the primitive years of human anthropology, an inherent unpredictability was perpetually looming over one's tribe. Thus in cultures which have historically experienced increased levels of danger or unpredictability, their populations today may naturally experience increased anxiety or other negative emotions.
Evolutionary Psychology and Beyond
Beyond evolutionary psychology examples, Dr. Kuebler shares his view on bias and objectivity as it relates to the COVID19 pandemic, as well as his personal interest in philosophical questions that eventually led him to his career in biology. His perspective is rooted in current events, contemporary science, and curiosity about the universe beyond what science can answer.