Memory evolved to supply useful, timely information to the organism’s decision-making systems. Therefore, decision rules, multiple memory systems, and the search engines that link them should have coevolved to mesh in a coadapted, functionally interlocking way. This adaptationist perspective suggested the scope hypothesis: When a generalization is retrieved from semantic memory, episodic memories that are inconsistent with it should be retrieved in tandem to place boundary conditions on the scope of the generalization. Using a priming paradigm and a decision task (...) involving person memory, the authors tested and confirmed this hypothesis. The results support the view that priming is an evolved adaptation. They further show that dissociations between memory systems are not—and should not be—absolute: Independence exists for some tasks but not others. (shrink)
For two decades, the integrated causal model of evolutionary psychology (EP) has constituted an interdisciplinary nucleus around which a single unified theoretical and empirical behavioral science has been crystallizing – while progressively resolving problems (such as defective logical and statistical reasoning) that bedevil Gintis's beliefs, preferences, and constraints (BPC) framework. Although both frameworks are similar, EP is empirically better supported, theoretically richer, and offers deeper unification. (Published Online April 27 2007).
Research suggests that the mind contains a set of adaptations for detecting alliances: an alliance detection system, which monitors for, encodes, and stores alliance information and then modifies the activation of stored alliance categories according to how likely they will predict behavior within a particular social interaction. Previous studies have established the activation of this system when exposed to explicit competition or cooperation between individuals. In the current studies we examine if shared political opinions produce these same effects. In particular, (...) if participants will spontaneously categorize individuals according to the parties they support, even when explicit cooperation and antagonism are absent, and if party support is sufficiently powerful to decrease participants’ categorization by an orthogonal but typically-diagnostic alliance cue . Evidence was found for both: Participants spontaneously and implicitly kept track of who supported which party, and when party cross-cut race—such that the race of targets was not predictive of party support—categorization by race was dramatically reduced. To verify that these results reflected the operation of a cognitive system for modifying the activation of alliance categories, and not just socially-relevant categories in general, an identical set of studies was also conducted with in which party was either crossed with sex or age . As predicted, categorization by party occurred to the same degree, and there was no reduction in either categorization by sex or by age. All effects were replicated across two sets of between-subjects conditions. These studies provide the first direct empirical evidence that party politics engages the mind’s systems for detecting alliances and establish two important social categorization phenomena: that categorization by age is, like sex, not affected by alliance information and that political contexts can reduce the degree to which individuals are represented in terms of their race. (shrink)
“Ought” cannot be derived from “is,” so why should facts about human nature be of interest to business ethicists? In this article, we discuss why the nature of human nature is relevant to anyone wishing to create a more just and humane workplace and society. We begin by presenting evolutionary psychology as a research framework, and then present three examples of research that illuminate various evolved cognitive programs. The first involves the cognitive foundations of trade, including a neurocognitive mechanism specialized (...) for a form of moral reasoning: cheater detection. The second involves the moral sentiments triggered by participating in collective actions, which are relevant to organizational behavior. The third involves the evolved programs whereby our minds socially construct groups, and how these can be harnessed to reduce racism and foster true diversity in the workplace. In each case, we discuss how what has been learned about these evolved programs might inform the study and practice of business ethics. (shrink)
The architecture of the hazard management system underlying precautionary behavior makes functional sense, given the adaptive computational problems it evolved to solve. Many seeming infelicities in its outputs, such as behavior with “apparent lack of rational motivation” or disproportionality, are susceptibilities that derive from the sheer computational difficulty posed by the problem of cost-effectively deploying countermeasures to rare, harmful threats. (Published Online February 8 2007).
John Maynard Smith, one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists, recently summarized in the NYRB the sharply conflicting assessments of Stephen Jay Gould: "Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by non-biologists as the preeminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be (...) publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists.". No one can take any pleasure in the evident pain Gould is experiencing now that his actual standing within the community of professional evolutionary biologists is finally becoming more widely known. If what was a stake was solely one man's self-regard, common decency would preclude comment. (shrink)