Evolutionary Psychology: History and Current Status

The evolutionary study of the mind in the twentieth century has been marked by three self-conscious movements: classical ethology, sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology (capitalized to indicate that it functions here as a proper name). Classical ethology was established in the years immediately before the Second World War, primarily by Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen (Burckhardt, 1983). Interrupted by the war, the movement blossomed in the early 1950s, when ethologists established major research institutes in most developed countries and developed a successful sideline in popular science writing. From the outset, ethology sought to apply its methods for the comparative study of animal behavior to human beings, something that was especially prominent in more popular works. Lorenz’s On Aggression (1966a) is perhaps the best known of these works, but several other leading ethologists wrote advocating the application of the new evolutionary science of the mind to problems of international conflict and social unrest.
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