Context, Environment, and Learning in Evolutionary Psychology
There is a widespread misunderstanding among social scientists that evolved psychological adaptations are like reflexes or “instincts” – blind, inflexible, and insensitive to social and environmental circumstances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evolved psychological mechanisms are environmentally sensitive and exquisitely context-dependent.
The purpose of this entry is to introduce the reader to the centrality of context in evolutionary psychology. To this end, we discuss: (1) the theoretical importance of context in evolutionary psychology, (2) the nature of evolved learning mechanisms, and (3) specific examples of context effects in evolutionary psychology.
The Importance of Context in Evolutionary Psychology
Environmental contextplays a key causal and explanatory role in evolutionary psychology. Adaptations – the primary products of natural selection – require environmental input at every stage of their emergence. Indeed, environmental pressures (1) drove...
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