"Evolutionary psychology" - a real science?


#1

Is this a real science or just a bunch of presuppositions stacked on conjectures?

I am just wondering because it seems like every day I read some news story where they explain some aspect of ‘human nature’ through this marvelous science, but then when you think about it, there are many societies that work in many different ways with different ideas, rules and laws- what they call human nature isn’t really human nature but just some quirk of western society… like “dating” for example- “dating” was invented by American society in the late 19th century- then you have some evolutionary psychologist saying how it has to do with our simian ancestors seeking out more fertile mates etc… so, did (asian) Indians who arrange marriages have different primate ancestors or something?

So how does that work then, different evolution for different cultures?


#2

The idea that animals tend to seek out the more fertile mates is relatively non-controversial. Female birds seek out males with traits that indicate greater fertility – bright feathers, big beaks, e.g.

Now, can you apply this also to humans? I don’t see why not. Don’t humans (at least historically) want fertile mates?

Whether the American form of dating is a result of a genetic desire for fertile mates – I don’t know of any empirical tests that confirm this. And as far as Asian Indians are concerned, it is true that arranged marriages are arranged for a specific reason: to get your child a mate from a ‘good’ (read: ‘good, healthy, respected’) family. Perhaps the Asian Indian method, where the whole family participates, is superior to the American dating method, where guys and gals flutter hither and thither searching for love.:smiley:


#3

Evolutionary psychology is a real but relatively new science.

While there are cultural differences in say dating habits they are all relatively recent innovations. (“Recent” meaning in the past few millennia after the adoption of agriculture)

For most of human history we lived as hunters and gatherers in relatively isolated bands.
While western style dating and eastern style arranged marriages may (or may not) be relatively new the fact that men and women are attracted to each other is as old as the hills.

Behaviors related to reproduction are assumed to be very old and deep-seated. This is why comparisons with closely related species are made. But these comparisons can show both the similarities and differences and this can help identify when certain traits arose.

There are probably several successful reproductive strategies and humans (as the consummate generalists) probably employ several of them

As both science and religion tells us we all have the same ancestors

Evolution is a very slow process.
Cultures come and go much more quickly.
Humans are unique in that we use culture to modify our behaviors.
What the scientists do is look for commonalities across cultures. Those would likely be the older behaviors.

And “dating” and arranged marriages aside, that doesn’t always affect who a person chooses as a lover. Cheating spouses and star-crossed lovers are a age-old story regardless of the culture.


#4

A couple of helpful articles:

psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html
asa3.org/asa/topics/Evolution/PSCF9-98Zimmer.html

Don
+T+


#5

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