Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Evolutionary Perspectives on Our Common Human Nature
Darwinian Evolution 101: five key ideas
• The theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is a biological theory of life, its
variety, and how it changes over time.
• It is not a theory of geology, or the universe, or technology
• Is it not the only perspective on Personality—but it is a big one and it is a big one.
• Three Basic Principles of the theory:
1. The Principle of Variation: most important variable when pertaining to this
o Different species and organisms within the same species show
variation in their traits—see variation across species when certain
species can adapt and change to fit into the environment to make
o It’s nature’s protection against environmental change and an
unknowable future—variability and individual differences are the
o Ex: British and Dutch Great Tit & Global warming—something
has started to happen globally that temperatures rise, and the
British Great Tits were able to adapt to the temperate change,
whereas the Dutch Great Tit are struggling to evolve
o Importantly, Evolutionary processes have no foresight!
o We’re not evolving “toward” any certain goal. Species change w/
o Since we don’t know what traits we will need, best to keep a
o Ex: ‘Pushiness’ or ‘Assertiveness’ in US vs. Bulgaria—different
customs and cultures
o In humans, some mechanisms seems to ensure variability
o Ex. The Sweaty Tshirt Study (Wedekind, 2008)—men sleep in t
shirt for 4 nights, then they bring women in to smell the shirts and
there is something unconsciously knows that the immune system is
a little bit different but not too different.
2. The Principle of inheritance
o Inheritance: traits are “heritable” passed from one generation to the
o Adaptation: some traits enable in