The application of evolutionary theory to human behavior has elicited a variety of critiques, some of which charge that this approach expresses or encourages conservative or reactionary political agendas. In a survey of graduate students in psychology, Tybur, Miller, and Gangestad (Human Nature, 18, 313–328, 2007) found that the political attitudes of those who use an evolutionary approach did not differ from those of other psychology grad students. Here, we present results from a directed online survey of a broad sample (...) of graduate students in anthropology that assays political views. We found that evolutionary anthropology graduate students were very liberal in their political beliefs, overwhelmingly voted for a liberal U.S. presidential candidate in the 2008 election, and identified with liberal political parties; in this, they were almost indistinguishable from non-evolutionary anthropology students. Our results contradict the view that evolutionary anthropologists hold conservative or reactionary political views. We discuss some possible reasons for the persistence of this view in terms of the sociology of science. (shrink)
The synthesis proposed by Gintis is valuable but insufficient. Greater consideration must be given to epistemological diversity within the behavioral sciences, to incorporating historical contingency and institutional constraints on decision-making, and to vigorously testing deductive models of human behavior in real-world contexts. (Published Online April 27 2007).
The relationship between game play and naturalistic cooperation, generosity, or market involvement is ambiguous at best, making it difficult to link game results to preferences and beliefs guiding decision-making in daily life. Discounting reputation-based explanations because the games are anonymous, while arguing that game play is guided by motivational structures or framing effects reflecting daily life, is inconsistent.
Although an excellent review, the target article displays a bias in favor of reciprocity-based explanations and against alternatives. Tolerated scrounging is more subtle and pervasive than portrayed here. Costly signaling need not be limited to public displays and generalized sharing. The theoretical basis for extensive sharing and other forms of collective action remains unresolved, and standard reciprocity-based explanations are insufficient.
Anecdotal evidence from many hunter-gatherer societies suggests that successful hunters experience higher prestige and greater reproductive success. Detailed quantitative data on these patterns are now available for five widely dispersed cases (Ache, Hadza, !Kung, Lamalera, and Meriam) and indicate that better hunters exhibit higher age-corrected reproductive success than other men in their social group. Leading explanations to account for this pattern are: (1) direct provisioning of hunters’ wives and offspring, (2) dyadic reciprocity, (3) indirect reciprocity, (4) costly signaling, and (5) (...) phenotypic correlation. I examine the qualitative and quantitative evidence bearing on these explanations and conclude that although none can be definitively rejected, extensive and apparently unconditional sharing of large game somewhat weakens the first three explanations. The costly signaling explanation has support in some cases, although the exact nature of the benefits gained from mating or allying with or deferring to better hunters needs further study. (shrink)
The target article adopts an adaptationist research strategy that, while logically coherent, suffers from various limitations, including problems in reconstructing past selective environments, ambiguity in how narrowly to define adaptive problems or selection pressures, and an overemphasis on specialization in evolved psychological mechanisms. To remedy these problems, I support a more flexible approach involving phenotypic adaptation and cultural evolution.
This paper addresses methodological and metatheoretical aspects of the ongoing debate over the adaptive significance of Tibetan polyandry. Methodological contributions include a means of estimating relatedness of fraternal co-husbands given multigenerational polyandry, and use of Hamilton’s rule and a member-joiner model to specify how inclusive fitness gains of co-husbands may vary according to seniority, opportunity costs, and group size. These methods are applied to various data sets, particularly that of Crook and Crook (1988). The metatheoretical discussion pivots on the critique (...) by evolutionary psychologists of adaptationist accounts of polyandry. Contrary to this critique, I argue that valid adaptationist explanations of such practices do not necessitate cognitive mechanisms evolved specifically to produce polyandry, nor that there must have been exact equivalents of Tibetan agricultural estates and social institutions in human evolutionary history. Specific issues raised when one posits either kin selection or cultural evolution to explain the adaptive features of Tibetan polyandry are also discussed. (shrink)
Abstract Three recent books on public opinion attempt to map changes in the public's policy preferences over the last few decades. Such changes have clearly occurred, but a single, overriding ?public mood? remains elusive. Rather, different components of the public mood seem to move in different directions. Furthermore, it is unclear how much of the apparent change in public mood is real and how much is an artifact resulting from changes in public policies. Yet elite perceptions, or misperceptions, of public (...) opinion are important determinants of those very policies, raising questions about the coherence of opinion?led government. (shrink)