Essay about Evolutionary Psychology

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Compare two different methods that have been used by evolutionary psychologists.

Evolutionary psychology in seeking to increase understanding of contemporary behaviour and abilities looks not to the causal explanations of the immediate cause, but to the far reaching functional explanation of assumed evolutionary cause – then asks how and why we are as we are. These ideas are informed by many disciplines from anthropology to ethology and archaeology, what follows is a comparison of 2 methods illustrated by examples and different research methods.

One method – Observation, classification and induction bases itself on those of natural history. Observations are made within the real world, classifications are made of the numerous instances
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Thus a prediction that an environmental change to one of less soot (lighter) would result in higher instances of light moth industrial areas could be made.

Kettlewell was able to test and demonstrate this in a follow up study when the environmental conditions had become less polluted. This was not to say that the moths deliberately changed colour in accordance with the environmental changes but that as more survived and were able have a long enough life span to produce off spring their numbers increased until they dominated.

This method has also been used to hypothesise about the development of cognitive structures for intelligence as a means of adapting to the problems early humans faced as hunter gathering social beings. Byrne and Whiten (1988)*, inspired by the Humphrey (1976)* paper entitled ‘The social function of intellect’ put forward their Machiavellian hypothesis arguing this was because of the benefits to social creatures (like hunter gathers from who we descend) of mastering the complex balancing act of competition and co-operation such that they could determine what the results of their actions might be, what the actions of another might be whilst weighting up what would be the most favourable outcome – all based on ever changing factors.

So from the accepted idea that only abilities that have value to creatures evolve through the ages, the

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