The Evolutionary Psychology FAQ
Last updated September 8, 2004.
This FAQ is written and maintained by Edward Hagen, formerly of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, and now at the Institute for Theoretical Biology in Berlin. The FAQ assumes a basic knowledge of genes and natural selection. Its purpose is to outline the foundations of evolutionary psychology. These foundations are extremely robust (though not beyond criticism). The status of specific hypotheses (e.g., mate selection preferences, cheater detection modules) is more debatable, and will not be discussed in detail here. In addition, I address many of the common misconceptions about evolutionary psychology. This FAQ draws upon the work of many individuals. Comments and criticisms regarding it are welcome:
Russian translation of this FAQ is also available.
Frequently asked questions:
What is evolutionary psychology?
What is the EEA and why is it important? (general answer)
What is the EEA? (detailed answer)
Isn't it true that we can't know what happened in the distant past, so the EEA concept is useless?
Why is the EEA equated with the Pleistocene?
Why couldn't humans have evolved during the last 10,000 years?
What is an adaptation?
What is a psychological adaptation?
What about spandrels?
What is domain specificity and why is it necessary?
What is a module?
How can we identify psychological adaptations?
Why are adaptations not for the good of the species?
Why are genes selfish?
Do selfish genes mean selfish people?
Why is the heritability of adaptations generally zero?
How can evolutionary psychologists talk about adaptations without talking about specific genes?
Are there enough genes to build psychological adaptations?
What about 'plasticity'?
What about learning?
What about gene-environment interactions?
Are evolutionary psychologists primarily interested in what makes humans different from other animals?
Is evolutionary psychology just a politically correct version of sociobiology?
Is evolutionary psychology another form of genetic determinism?
Is evolutionary psychology racist?
Is evolutionary psychology sexist?
Is evolutionary psychology a form of Social Darwinism?
Is rape an adaptation?
If my 'genes made me do it', am I still responsible?
Do evolutionary psychologists think that everything is an adaptation?
Why do some people hate evolutionary psychology?
More thoughts on Evolutionary Psychology and political (in)correctness
What are your politics? (Translation: Doesn't evolutionary psychology have a crypto conservative political agenda?)
Does evolutionary psychology have any problems?
References and other reading
Click here for the entire FAQ on one page
If you are interested in what I'm working on, here are some links:
Darwinian medicine: depression, addiction, and child growth and development:
Copyright 1999-2002 Edward H. Hagen