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Chapter 4.1

PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4.1: Evolutionary Psychology, Institute For Operations Research And The Management Sciences, List Of Compositions By Johann Sebastian Bach

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Nick Hobson

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Prehistoric dangers and contemporary prejudices
Evolutionary psychology as a tool for conceptual discovery
Characteristics of evolved psychological processes
- In general, people have the capacity to experience fear when they perceive information
indicating the proximity of some imminent danger.
- There are vast individual differences in fear responses that result from the many additional,
more proximal, influences on individual information processing.
- These influences include additional biological processes that promote genetic diversity within
human populations, as well as the effects of local environments and social learning processes.
- Evolved psychological processes are highly flexible.
o Most of these processes provide for the capacity to respond in specific ways to specific
categories of perceptual input.
o Thus, the evolved mechanisms underlying fear provide the capacity for a fear response
to be triggered in response to specific perceptual cues (such as an unexpected loud
noise) that appear to indicate the proximity of some imminent danger.
- While there may be an evolved, pan-human tendency to respond with fear to cues connoting
imminent danger, individuals must learn many of the specific stimulus cues that connote danger
- The engagement of adaptive responses often conforms loosely to some sort of implicit cost
benefit analysis (if cues indicate the presence of some dangerous thing, then the costs
associated with a fear response are likely to be outweighed by the benefits), but this does not
mean that they are engaged only after rational consideration.
- Because evolved psychological mechanisms are responsive to information that informs an
implicit cost benefit analysis, the strength of association between eliciting stimulus and
adaptive response may be moderated by additional ‘‘background’’ variables that bear on that
implicitand falliblecost benefit analysis.
- Individuals who are generally more fearful and wary of danger for whatever reasonare likely
to have a lower threshold for the ‘‘triggering’’ of the evolved mechanisms whereby fear is
elicited in response to some perceptual cue (such as a loud noise).
- Many evolutionary psychological theories yield hypotheses implying relations between specific
individual difference variables and the strength of specific psychological responses
- A fearful reaction to loud noises, for example, is especially pronounced under conditions of
ambient darkness, a contextual cue that heuristically connotes vulnerability to harm
- Certain prejudicial ways of thinking and acting may have conferred adaptive benefits within
ancestral environments, and now those prejudicial ways of thinking and acting may persist.
- Prejudices that appear identical in terms of overall evaluative valence are in fact qualitatively
distinct in predictable ways.
- 2 specific evolutionarily informed models of prejudice processes:
o One of these processes focuses on vulnerability to physical injury.
o The other focuses on vulnerability to disease.
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