Evolutionary Psych.

Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Sun, 16 Oct 1994 18:56:42 CDT

What's the dif. between evolutionary psych and sociobiology?

I am sure Jerome Barkow and Lee Cronk could give you a better pithy statement
than I can, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

1. Approach. Ev. psych. looks at products of our evolved minds, such as mate
choice, through (I guess) fairly standard kinds of psychological instruments.
That is, they tend to rely on paper and pen tests which have been rigorously
tested regarding reliability/validity. Ev. psychs look for evidence of evolved
psychological mechanisms in the statements and expressed preferences of their
subjects. Sociobiology (a la Alexander, Trivers and others) as it has been so
far applied to humans (e.g. Betzig et al 1988 *Human Reproductive Behavior*)
tends to look at *behavior* as the product of our evolved minds. Hence, the
label *human behavioral ecology* is the name I, and many others doing this kind
of work, favor over sociobiology.

2. Theory. Ev. psychs often argue that the psychological mechanisms they
purport to measure are late pleistocene adaptations that may have nothing to
do with adaptive behavior today. They rely on the concept of the "enviroment
of evolutionary adaptedness" (EEA) as a guide to discovering psychological
mechanisms. That is, they suggest that our minds have evolved to solve
problems common to human social groups in the late pleistocene and that these
problems are different from the problems we face today. One short coming of the
approach is that (as psychologists) many ev psychs are rather unclear about
what might have gone on in the EEA. In contrast most behavioral ecologists
assume that the problems common to any human today (finding mates, caring
for children, finding food, calculating schedules of reciprocity, etc) are not
so different from those in the EEA. I.e., for the most part, we tend to behave
in ways that increase our reproductive success.

3. There are psychologists doing evolution and behavior studies that I would
not consider evolutionary psychologists, at least not in the Tooby & Cosmides
sense (e.g. Daly and Wilson -- who may not agree with me). Also most human
behavioral ecologists are anthropologists (again see Betzig et al 1988);
although, some evolution and behavior oriented anthropologists do ev. psych
stuff (e.g. Tooby, Barkow, etc). So, the subjects of behavioral ecologists are
usually the memebers of societies anthropologists traditionally study (i.e.,
"Others"). And the subjects of ev. psychs (like David Buss) are usually
college students.

So, this is kind of a simple charicature, but it's the basic dif as I see it.
Mark Flinn et al have a review essay forthcoming this fall in JAR that examines
the approaches of *The Adapted Mind* (Barkow et al), *Evolutionary Ecology and
Huaman Behavior* (Smith and Winterhalder), and *Coevolution* (Durham).

Rob Quinlan, Grad. Student, U. of Missouri-Columbia