The Evolutionary Psychology FAQ

Edward H. Hagen, Institute for Theoretical Biology, Berlin

References and other reading

The theoretical foundations of evolutionary psychology are identical to the theoretical foundations of adaptationism. The following is a very brief annotated list of references and recommended reading:

Williams, George C. (1966). Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton University Press. This is the founding document for adaptationism in general and evolutionary psychology in particular. It identifies 'adaptation' as a principle unit of analysis, and 'evidence of design' as the best evidence for adaptation. Evolutionary psychology can be thought of as Williams applied to the brain.

Symons, Donald (1979). The Evolution of Human Sexuality. Oxford University Press. The first in-depth exploration of an evolutionary psychological hypothesis containing all the necessary arguments: reproductive problems (e.g., male and female mating strategies in light of the relative costs of pregnancy), ancestral environments (e.g., lack of effective birth control in the EEA), and evidence for psychological mechanisms to solve the aforementioned problems (e.g., male and female mate preferences).

Barkow J.H., Cosmides, L., & Tooby J., eds. (1992). The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Oxford University Press. This edited volume contains key papers explaining how to apply adaptationist arguments to the nervous system, how to account for learning and culture within this framework, and several examples of evolutionary psychology applied to specific problems.

Beyond this, I refer the reader to the reading list at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology.

Copyright 1999-2002 Edward H. Hagen