Evolutionary models of human cooperation are increasingly emphasizing the role of reputation and the requisite truthful “gossiping” about reputation-relevant behavior. If resources were allocated among individuals according to their reputations, competition for resources via competition for “good” reputations would have created incentives for exaggerated or deceptive gossip about oneself and one’s competitors in ancestral societies. Correspondingly, humans should have psychological adaptations to assess gossip veracity. Using social psychological methods, we explored cues of gossip veracity in four experiments. We found that (...) simple reiteration increased gossip veracity, but only for those who found the gossip relatively uninteresting. Multiple sources of gossip increased its veracity, as did the independence of those sources. Information that suggested alternative, benign interpretations of gossip decreased its veracity. Competition between a gossiper and her target decreased gossip veracity. These results provide preliminary evidence for psychological adaptations for assessing gossip veracity, mechanisms that might be used to assess veracity in other domains involving social exchange of information. (shrink)
Here we argue that the concept of strategies, as it was introduced into biology by John Maynard Smith, is a prime illustration of the four dimensions of theoretical biology in the post-genomic era. These four dimensions are: data analysis and management, mathematical and computational model building and simulation, concept formation and analysis, and theory integration. We argue that all four dimensions of theoretical biology are crucial to future interactions between theoretical and empirical biologists as well as with philosophers of biology.
An evolutionary account of excessive crying in young infants – colic – has been elusive. A study of mothers with new infants suggests that more crying is associated with more negative emotions towards the infant, and perceptions of poorer infant health. These results undermine the hypothesis that excessive crying is an honest signal of vigor.
Evidence suggests that humans might have neurological specializations for music processing, but a compelling adaptationist account of music and dance is lacking. The sexual selection hypothesis cannot easily account for the widespread performance of music and dance in groups (especially synchronized performances), and the social bonding hypothesis has severe theoretical difficulties. Humans are unique among the primates in their ability to form cooperative alliances between groups in the absence of consanguineal ties. We propose that this unique form of social organization (...) is predicated on music and dance. Music and dance may have evolved as a coalition signaling system that could, among other things, credibly communicate coalition quality, thus permitting meaningful cooperative relationships between groups. This capability may have evolved from coordinated territorial defense signals that are common in many social species, including chimpanzees. We present a study in which manipulation of music synchrony significantly altered subjects’ perceptions of music quality, and in which subjects’ perceptions of music quality were correlated with their perceptions of coalition quality, supporting our hypothesis. Our hypothesis also has implications for the evolution of psychological mechanisms underlying cultural production in other domains such as food preparation, clothing and body decoration, storytelling and ritual, and tools and other artifacts. (shrink)
The fitness maximization standard incorrectly assumes that most adaptations have high heritablility, and it imposes the difficult requirement that correlated phenotypic and environmental contributors to reproduction be controlled for. Despite infrequently recognized problems, the special design standard is the foundation of the spectacular successes of modern medicine. It also suggests that the ancestral environment provides a window into the functioning of the brain.
Proxies of mate value must be evolutionarily salient. Gangestad & Simpson (G&S) have made a good case that fluctuating asymmetry is an important proxy of male mate value that correlates well with genetic and developmental quality. The use of financial variables as proxies for male investment ability by Gangestad, Simpson, and virtually every other investigator of human mating in evolutionary perspective, is, however, more problematic. Correspondence:a1 Address correspondence to the first author. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA (...) 93106 email@example.com www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/hagen. (shrink)
Buller recently posted a critique of evolutionary psychology (reproduced below). Although I disagree with many of his assertions, this is the most credible attempt to critique evolutionary psychology that I have encountered. Bullers arguments regarding improper motivational inferences from evolutionary psychological explanations are largely correct--such inferences are indeed erroneous. Furthermore, the mistakes he identifies have been made by some prominent evolutionists including, apparently, W. D. Hamilton (Symons, personal communication). However, most evolutionary psychologists are not saying what he claims they are (...) saying. Buller wishes to find evolutionary psychology trapped in Freudian quicksand so that he can rescue it. Instead, it is he who must hoist himself from the bog using the theoretical rigging created by evolutionary psychologists over the last two decades, including, most prominently, Don Symons, a primary target of his essay. (shrink)