Evolutionary Social Psychology

Adaptive Predispositions and Human Culture
  • Douglas Kenrick
  • Josh Ackerman
  • Susan Ledlow
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


We have argued that the evolutionary perspective to social psychology is not untestable, not reductionist, not a theory about rigid genetic determinism, not a justification for the status quo, and not incompatible with sociocultural or cognitive analyses. What it is, instead, is a set of ideas that have proved quite useful in generating novel hypotheses, and parsimoniously connecting findings from very different domains ranging from mate choice and family relationships to aggression and intergroup relations. Adopting an evolutionary perspective can help us appreciate not only the common threads that bind the people in our culture to those in other cultures, but also, beyond that, to the other species with which we share the earth. Taking this broad perspective, however, also makes us aware of the vast reaches of our own ignorance. As yet, we know very little about how evolved psychological mechanisnis inside individuals develop, or how they influence, and are influenced by, the complex cultures that humans construct. Bringing light to these questions will require a fuller integration of all the different theoretical perspectives on human social behavior.


Sexual Selection Mate Choice Evolutionary Perspective Parental Investment 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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcock, J. (1998). Animal behavior: An evolutionary approach (6th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.Google Scholar
  2. Alcock, J. (2001). The triumph of sociobiology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. G., Kaplan, H. S., & Lancaster, J. B. (1997, June). Paying for children’s college: The paternal investment strategies of Albuquerque men. Paper presented at the Ninth Annual Conference of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.Google Scholar
  4. Badcock, C. (2000). Evolutionary psychology: A critical introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  5. Barnard, A. (1999). Modern hunter-gatherers and early symbolic culture. In R. Dunbar, C. Knight, & C. Power (Eds.), The evolution of culture: An interdisciplinary view. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Broude, G. J. (1994). Marriage, family, and relationships: A cross cultural encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  7. Brewer, M. B. (1997). On the social origins of human nature. In C. McGarty & S. A. Haslam (Eds.), The message of social psychology: Perspectives on the mind in society (pp. 54–62). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, D. E. (1991). Human universals. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  9. Burnstein, E., Crandall, C, & Kitayama, S. (1994). Some neo-Darwinian decision rules for altruism: Weighing cues for inclusive fitness as a function of the biological importance of the decision. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(5), 773–789.Google Scholar
  10. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preference: Evolutionary hypothesis tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.Google Scholar
  11. Buss, D. M. (1999). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  12. Buss, D. M., & Kenrick, D. T. (1998). Evolutionary social psychology. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 982–1026). New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  13. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.Google Scholar
  14. Caporael, L. R., & Baron, R. M. (1997). Groups as the mind’s natural environment. In J. A. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 317–344). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Chagnon, N. (1988). Life histories, blood revenge, and warfare in a tribal population. Science, 239, 985–990.Google Scholar
  16. Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2, 39–55.Google Scholar
  17. Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1991). The evolution of parental care. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind (pp. 163–228). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Crawford, C. B., & Anderson, J. L. (1989). Sociobiology: An environmentalist discipline. American Psychologist, 44, 1449–1459.Google Scholar
  20. Crook, J. H., & Crook, S. J. (1988). Tibetan polyandry: Problems of adaptation and fitness. In L. Betzig, M. Borgerhoff Mulder, & P. Turke (Eds.), Human reproductive behavior: A Darwinian perspective (pp. 97–114). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Cunningham, M. R., Druen, P. B., & Barbee, A. P. (1997). Angels, mentors, and friends: Tradeoffs among evolutionary, social, and individual variables in physical appearance. In J. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 109–141). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1983). Sex, evolution, and behavior (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  23. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1985). Child abuse and other risks of not living with both parents. Ethology and Sociobiology, 6, 197–210.Google Scholar
  24. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Homicide. New York: Aldine deGruyter.Google Scholar
  25. Daly, M., Salmon, C, & Wilson, M. (1997). Kinship: The conceptual hole in psychological studies of social cognition and close relationships. In J. A. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 265–296). Mahnaw, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  26. Darwin, C. (1859). The origin of species by natural selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: Murray.Google Scholar
  27. Dawkins, R. (1982). The extended phenotype. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  28. Dawkins, R. (1989). The selfish gene (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Deutsch, F. M., Zalenski, C. M., & Clark, M. E. (1986). Is there a double standard of aging? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 771–775.Google Scholar
  30. Ellis, L. (1996). A discipline in peril: Sociology’s future hinges on curing its biophobia. American Sociologist, 27, 21–41.Google Scholar
  31. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1971). Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17(2), 124–129.Google Scholar
  32. Emlen, S. T. (1997). The evolutionary study of human family systems. Social Science Information, 36(4), 563–589.Google Scholar
  33. Emlen, S. T., Wrege, P. H., & DeMong, N. J. (1995). Making decisions in the family: An evolutionary perspective. American Scientist, 83, 148–157.Google Scholar
  34. Euler, H. H., & Weitzel, B. (1996). Discriminating grandparental solicitude as a reproductive strategy. Human Nature, 7, 39–59.Google Scholar
  35. Fiske, A. P. (1992). The four elementary forms of sociality: Framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychological Review, 99(4), 689–723.Google Scholar
  36. Fiske, A. P., Kitayama, S., Markus, H. R., & Nisbett, R. E. (1998). The cultural matrix of social psychology In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. II, pp. 915–982). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  37. Foley, R. (1989). The evolution of hominid social behavior. In V. Standen & R. Foley (Eds.), Comparative socioecology. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Gangestad, S. W. (1994). Sexual selection and physical attractiveness: Implications for mating dynamics. Human Nature, 4(3), 205–235.Google Scholar
  39. Gangestad, S. W., & Buss, D. M. (1994). Pathogen prevalence and human mate preferences. Ethology and Sociobiology, 14(2), 89–96.Google Scholar
  40. Gangestad, S., & Simpson, J. A. (1990). Toward an evolutionary history of female sociosexual variation. Journal of Personality, 58, 69–96.Google Scholar
  41. Gangestad, S. W., & Thornhill, R. (1997). Human sexual selection and developmental stability. In J. A. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 169–196). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  42. Garcia, J., & Koelling, R. A. (1966). Relation of cue to consequence in avoidance learning. Psychonomic Science, 4, 123–124.Google Scholar
  43. Gaulin, S. J. C, McBurney, D. H., & Brademan-Wartell, S. L. (1997). Matrilateral biases in the investment of aunts and uncles. Human Nature, 8, 139–151.Google Scholar
  44. Geary, D. C. (1998). Male, female: The evolution of human sex differences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  45. Gowaty, P. A. (Ed.). (1997). Feminism and evolutionary biology: Boundaries, intersections, and frontiers. New York: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  46. Guarnaccia, P. J., & Parra, P. (1996). Ethnicity, social status, and families’ experiences of caring for a mentally ill family member. Community Mental Health Journal, 32(3), 243–260.Google Scholar
  47. Guttentag, M., & Secord, P. F. (1983). Too many women? The sex ratio question. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behavior. I, II. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7, 1–52.Google Scholar
  49. Harpending, H. (1992). Age differences between mates in Southern African pastoralists. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 102–103.Google Scholar
  50. Hart, C. W., & Pillig, A. R. (1960). The Tiwi of North Australia. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  51. Hawkes, K. (1999). Grandmothering and the evolution of homo erectus. Journal of Human Evolution, 36, 461–485.Google Scholar
  52. Hill, K., & Kaplan, H. (1999). Life history traits in humans: Theory and empirical studies. Annual Review of Anthropology, 28, 397–430.Google Scholar
  53. Hoogland, J. L. (1983). Nepotism and alarm calling the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus). Animal Behavior, 31, 472–479.Google Scholar
  54. Hrdy, S. H. (1999). Mother Nature: A history of mothers, infants, and natural selection. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  55. Kenrick, D. T. (1994). Evolutionary social psychology: From sexual selection to social cognition. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology: Vol. 26 (pp. 75–122). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  56. Kenrick, D. T. (1995). Evolutionary theory versus the confederacy of dunces. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 56–61.Google Scholar
  57. Kenrick, D. T., Gabrielidis, C., Keefe, R. C,& Cornelius, J. (1996). Adolescents’ age preferences for dating partners: Support for an evolutionary model of life-history strategies. Child Development, 67, 1499–1511.Google Scholar
  58. Kenrick, D. T., Groth, G. R., Trost, M. R., & Sadalla, E. K. (1993). Integrating evolutionary and social exchange perspectives on relationships: Effects of gender, self-appraisal, and involvement level on mate selection criteria. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 951–969.Google Scholar
  59. Kenrick, D. T., & Keefe, R. C. (1992). Age Preferences in mates reflect sex differences in human reproductive strategies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 75–133.Google Scholar
  60. Kenrick, D. T., Li, N. P., & Butner, J. (2003). Dynamical evolutionary psychology: Individual decision-rules and emergent social norms. Psychological Review, 110, 3–28.Google Scholar
  61. Kenrick, D. T., Neuberg, S. L., Zierk, K. L., & Krones, J. M. (1994). Evolution and social cognition: Contrast effects as a function of sex, dominance, and physical attractiveness. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 210–217.Google Scholar
  62. Kenrick, D. T., Sadalla, E. K., Groth, G., & Trost, M. R. (1990). Evolution, traits, and the stages of human courtship: Qualifying the parental investment model. Journal of Personality, 58, 97–117.Google Scholar
  63. Kenrick, D. T., Sadalla, E. K., & Keefe, R. C. (1998). Evolutionary cognitive psychology: The missing heart of modern cognitive science. In C. Crawford & D. Krebs (Eds.), Handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 485–514). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  64. Kenrick, D. T, & Trost, M. R. (1996). The evolutionary psychology of relationships. In S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  65. Kenrick, D. T., Trost, M. R., & Sheets, V. L. (1996). Power, harassment, and trophy mates: The feminist advantages of an evolutionary perspective. In D. M. Buss & N. M. Malamuth (Eds.), Sex, power, conflict: Evolutionary and feminist perspectives (pp. 29–53). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Ketelaar, T, & Ellis, B. J. (2000). Are evolutionary explanations unfalsifiable? Evolutionary psychology and the Lakatosian philosophy of science. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 1–21.Google Scholar
  67. Krebs, D. L., & Denton, K. (1997). Social illusions and self-deception: The evolution of biases in person perception. In J. A. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 21–48). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  68. Kurzban, R., & Leary, M. R. (2001). Evolutionary origins of stigmatization: The functions of social exclusion. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 187–208.Google Scholar
  69. LoPreato, J., & Crippen, T. (1999). Crisis in sociology: The need for Darwin. London: Transaction.Google Scholar
  70. Maryanski, A., & Turner, J. H. (1992). The social cage: Human nature and the evolution of society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Maynard Smith, J. (1955). Fertility, mating behavior, and sexual selection in Drosophila subobscura. Genetics, 54, 261–279.Google Scholar
  72. Miller, G. F. (1999). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  73. Neuberg, S. L., Smith, D. M., & Asher, T. (2000). Why people stigmatize: Toward a biocultural framework. In T. F. Heatherton & R. E. Kleck (Eds.), The social psychology of stigma. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  74. Ohman, A., & Mineka, S. (2001). Fear, phobias and preparedness: Toward an evolved module of fear and fear learning. Psychological Review, 108(3), 483–522Google Scholar
  75. Otta, E., Queiroz, R. D. S., Campos, L. D. S., daSilva, M. W. D., & Silveira, M. T. (1998). Age differences between spouses in a Brazilian marriage sample. Evolution and Human Behavior, 20, 99–103.Google Scholar
  76. Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  77. Pinker, S. (1997). How the mind works. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  78. Quammen, D. (1996). The song of the dodo: Island biogeography in an age of extinction. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  79. Radcliffe-Brown, A. (1913). Three tribes of Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 43, 143–194.Google Scholar
  80. Ridley, M. (1996). The origins of virtue: Human instincts and the evolution of cooperation. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  81. Rodseth, L., Wrangham, R. W., Harrigan, A. M., & Smuts, B. B. (1991). The Human Community as a Primate Society. Current Anthropology, 32(3), 221–254.Google Scholar
  82. Rosch, E. H. (1973). Natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 4, 328–350.Google Scholar
  83. Rozin, P., & Kalat, I. W. (1971). Specific hungers and poison avoidance as adaptive specializations of learning. Psychological Review, 79, 259–276.Google Scholar
  84. Sadalla, E. K., Kenrick, D. T., & Vershure, B. (1987). Dominance and heterosexual attraction. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 52, 730–738.Google Scholar
  85. Schaller, M. (2003). Ancestral environments and motivated social perception: Goal-like blasts from the evolutionary past. In S. J. Spencer, S. Fein, M. P. Zanna, & J. M. Olson (Eds.), Motivated social cognition: The Ninth Ontario Symposium. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  86. Schaller, M., & Conway, L. G., III. (2000). The illusion of unfalsifiability and why it matters. Psychological Inquiry, 11(1), 49–52.Google Scholar
  87. Seligman, M. E. P., & Hager, J. L. (1972). Biological boundaries of learning. The sauce-bearnaise syndrome. Psychology Today, 6, 59–61, 84–87.Google Scholar
  88. Shavit, Y., Fischer, C. S., & Koresh, Y. (1994). Kin and non-kin under collective threat: Israeli networks during the Gulf War. Social Forces, 72(4), 1197–1215.Google Scholar
  89. Sherman, P. W. (1977). Nepotism and the evolution of alarm calls. Science, 197(4310), 1246–1253.Google Scholar
  90. Singh, D. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 65, 293–307.Google Scholar
  91. Small, M. F. (1993). Female choices: Sexual behavior of female primates. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  92. Stearns, S. C. (1976). Life history tactics: A review of the ideas. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 51, 3–47.Google Scholar
  93. Stewart, B. S. & Huber, H. R. (1993). Mirounga angustirostris. Mammalian Species, 449, 1–10.Google Scholar
  94. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  95. Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (1994). Human facial beauty: Averageness, symmetry, and parasite resistance. Human Nature, 4(3), 237–269.Google Scholar
  96. Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1992). The psychological foundations of culture. In J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  97. Townsend, J. M., & Wasserman, T. (1998). Sexual Attractiveness: Sex differences in assessment and criteria. Evolution and Human Behavior, 14, 171–191.Google Scholar
  98. Trivers, R. L. (1985). Social evolution. Menlo Park: Benjamin/Cummings.Google Scholar
  99. White, G. M. (1980). Conceptual universals in interpersonal language. American Anthropologist, 82, 759–781.Google Scholar
  100. Wilson, E. O. (1978). On human nature. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  101. Zeifman, D., & Hazan, C. (1997). Attachment: The pair in pair bonds. In J. Simpson & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolutionary social psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Kenrick
    • 1
  • Josh Ackerman
    • 1
  • Susan Ledlow
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempe

Personalised recommendations