Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 265–286 | Cite as

Evolutionary social psychology: Prospects and pitfalls

  • David M. Buss
Special Issue: Symposium On Sociobiology


The principles of evolutionary psychology and the traditional assumptions of social psychology are highly compatible. Both disciplines trace observed behavioral variability to situational variability. Both assume that psychological mechanisms sensitive to social information are central to causal accounts of social behavior. Questions about the origins and functions of these psychological mechanisms are indispensable for understanding social behavior. Evolutionary psychology provides conceptual tools for addressing these questions. Several pitfalls must be avoided by practitioners of evolutionary social psychology. Specifically, we must jettison notions of genetic determinism and behavioral unmodifiability, eliminate false dichotomies between “genetic” and “learned,” and place cross-cultural variability in a sensible theoretical context. Attending to the reliable phenomena discovered by traditional social psychology and the conceptual frameworks provided by modern evolutionary psychology will produce the most informed evolutionary social psychology.


Social Psychology Conceptual Framework Social Behavior Social Information Evolutionary Psychology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Buss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

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