Gracile Austrolapithecus 
     Evolutionary Psychology

              A new approach towards the study of the human
               mind and behaviour
Homo Egasar/Erectus
Table of  Contents

To find out more about Evolutionary Psychology (EP)

Just click the images below

1. Just what is

Ape to human princess

2. The Mind
The  modular
    human mind
Blank slate

3. Adaptation.
The mind is
   an adaptive
African hut

4. The mind.
A "savannah

The savannah mind

5. EP?
    Some beg to

Adolf Hitler

6. LInks and

The Ascent of Humanity

Patrick Baron

Massey University
175.316 paper
Student website.
SID: 02065223.



Just what is Evolutionary Psychology?

Steve Pinker in his 2002 work, "The Blank State" defined Evolutionary Psychology as...
  Steve Pinker

"The study of the phylogenetic history and adaptive functions of the mind." (Pinker, 2002, p. 51)

: defines Phylogenetic as "relating  to the evolutionary development of organisms”.

Two assumptions...

  There are are 2 assumptions contained within Pinkers definition of Evolutionary Psychology.

1. The human mind at birth is not a tabula rasa
(which is latin for a blank state). 

  Instead humans at birth  have minds which are structurally 'pre-adapted' with the mental equipment neccessary for survival within their social, cultural and physical environments.

  The human mind is essentially a network of mental modules that influences the development and mechanism of human nature (as humans interact with their social, cultural and 'natural' physical environments). These mental modules can be metaphorically described as independent computer programs that have 'inbuilt' rules (and core information) which enable humans to function in their environment. (Evans & Zarate, 1999, p.148) While they  do not determine the final outcome of human behavior, they do however influence the way humans interact with their social and physical environment and ultimately the formation of human nature. (Pinker, 2002, p. ix)

  This is in contrast to the 'blank state' (tabula rasa) approach (still ascribed to by many in the social sciences) which assumes that the minds of humans (unlike other animals) are not born with such pre-existing neural structures. Instead 'information' and 'humanity' is inculcated in humans through their sensory experiences (within the phsyical environment and human social & cultural worlds).

  Far from being a blank state our minds are filled with specific neural structures i.e. domain-specific modules that influence our development and how we function as human being.  Examples of such modules include face recognition and language acquisition.

2. The apparent design of the human mind is the result of millions of years of evolution.

  The mental modules have been developed through millions of years of human evolution. In particular scientists believe that the period of human evolution during the Pleistocene epoch ie 1.8 millions years to 11,000 years BP has been particularly influential upon the development of these domain-specific modules within the human brain (Bjorklund, 2003, p.837).

African Savannah

  The evolution of modern humans is believed to have occurred mostly within an African  savannah-type  environment during this period. The design and structure of the human mind together with the constituent domain-specific mental modules are the result of  'solutions' to the adaptive problems posed to humans within this  environment (via the evolutionary processes of natural selection).

Evolutionary Psychology: is a new approach...

"Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind."
(Cosmides & Tooby, 1997)

Continued   23456.

Go to pages:
234, 56.

On  the web

Interesting links  around the web on Evolutionary Psychology (EP). 

Just click the images below:

Steve Pinker's homepage. Plenty of EP material.
Prof Steve Pinker

The EP Primer .  A detailed outline of EP principles - prepared by Leda Cosmides & John Tooby.

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby

HBES homepage. Human Behaviour  & Evolution Society.
Human Behaviour & Evolution Society homepage