Applying Evolutionary Anthropology to a Changing World

  • Mhairi A. GibsonEmail author
  • David W. Lawson
Part of the Advances in the Evolutionary Analysis of Human Behaviour book series (AEAHB, volume 1)


Evolutionary anthropology presents a powerful theoretical framework to understand how both current environments and legacies of past selection shape human behavioural and cultural diversity. Combining ethnographic, economic and demographic methods, this integrative and pluralistic field has provided new insights into the ultimate motivations and proximate pathways that guide human adaptation and variation. In recent years, anthropologists and related social scientists have also begun to explore how evolutionary theory may be used as a tool to address questions of public health and social policy relevance. This marks a watershed development in evolutionary approaches to human behaviour, as the field moves beyond purely academic boundaries and into the realm of applied social science. As a species, we are currently experiencing dramatic shifts in our lifestyle, family structure, diet and health and global contact. ‘Applied evolutionary anthropology’ (AEA) can provide new insights into the causes and the consequences of such human behavioural shifts by studying populations at the cusp of these transitions. It also holds great, largely untapped, potential to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of effective social and public health policy. This edited volume reviews the current state of the emerging field of AEA, highlighting the work of a number of interdisciplinary evolutionary scientists studying contemporary world issues. In this chapter, we briefly introduce the objectives and main contributions of AEA, and discuss the key research themes explored both in this book and the wider literature.


Evolutionary Anthropology Bestseller List Past Selection Health Health Parliamentary Enquiry 
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We would like to acknowledge with grateful thanks the funding provided by the BioSocial Society, the European Human and Behaviour Association and the Galton Institute. Without their generous sponsorship, the workshop and this volume of collected papers would never have been possible. We would like to express our gratitude to our workshop delegates who provided engaging discussion and debate on the ideas presented here. In addition to our contributing authors, many others volunteered their expert services as peer reviewers of the chapters in this volume. We are very grateful to Heidi Colleran, Tom Currie, Emily Emmott, Laura Fortunato, Craig Hadley, Fiona Jordan, Cristina Moya, Nichola Raihani, Sara Randall, Ryan Schacht, Jed Stevenson, Caroline Uggla, Bram Van Leeuwen and Sandra Virgo. A special debt of thanks is extended to David Gibson for his input copy-editing papers in this volume. Finally, we are indebted to Teresa Krauss and the team at Springer, along with Rebecca Sear as EHBEA Series Editor, for their advice and patience throughout the production of this book.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and AnthropologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Department of Population HealthLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK

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