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Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality

ejop-v14i2-1589-f1Patricia Smith Churchland, professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute, coined “neurophilosophy,” to refer to the application of neuroscientific concepts to traditional philosophical questions. In Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality, Churchland asks where values come from, and incorporates biological sciences with philosophy to answer the related moral questions.

In the first chapter, Churchland criticizes current conceptions of morality by asking why there are still unanswered fundamental questions in the field, including questions surrounding the nature of fairness. She believes that contemporary moral philosophy is “in peril of floating on a sea of mere, albeit confident, opinion” (p. 2) and has no relation to the current scientific findings in evolutionary biology and neuroscience. She suggests that we can answer some of the remaining moral questions by combining new findings in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and genetics within a philosophical framework. … Read the rest here.


Pazhoohi, F. (2018). Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 14(2), 515-518.  doi:10.5964/ejop.v14i2.1589
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On the Origin of Fairness and Cooperation

In The Origins of Fairness, which reminds us of the title of Darwin’s seminal work, Nicolas Baumard, a research scholar in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, articulates a compelling and convincing thesis that morality is based on an evolved moral sense, and this innate and universal sense of morality is based on mutualistic logic, “the attempt to make the interaction mutually respectful of the interests of all” (p. 109). In other words, throughout the book Baumard argues that the moral sense, as the impartial consideration of each person’s interest, is produced by selective pressures. Read the rest of review here.

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Pazhoohi, F. (2018). On the Origin of Fairness and Cooperation. Human Ethology Bulletin, 33(1), 49-52https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/331/049-052

How Men Age, a book review

Nothing would be more interesting than reading a book on men aging by the author who is an expert on comparative male life histories. Richard G. Bribiescas is a Professor of Anthropology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and has conducted research in evolutionary bk10807iology and endocrinology of human, as well as comparative studies on reproduction, growth, aging, and metabolism for many years. He is well-known for his research on male aging and reproductive senescence.

In the first chapter, Bribiescas explains what this book is all about and why Darwinian evolutionary theory is needed to gain a deeper understanding of male health, illness and aging. Additionally, he explains why it is important to consider aging across species and cross- culturally. While Bribiescas briefly explains how natural selection works, defines what he means by aging and concepts such as aging, life history theory and adaptation, he also lists the contents of the book by highlighting the points that he is going to extend in the upcoming chapters.

By implanting the seed of curiosity in the reader’s mind during the first chapter, Bribiescas begins the second chapter by explaining why aging happens from a biological perspective. … Read the rest here.


ResearchBlogging.org
Pazhoohi, F. & Arantes, J. (2017). Book Review: How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals about Male Health and Mortality Frontiers in Psychology : 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00894

How to Live a Life with More Positive Than Negative Feelings?

Decision-making is the cognitive process of choosing a preferred option from among a set of options (Wilson and Keil 2001). Decision-making is present through every aspect of life, and making good decisions for every important occasion during lifetime is a human being’s constant endeavor (Garnham 2016). Historically, religion and philosophy have been the only domains not only acting as gateways for explaining the meaning of life (McGhee 1992) but also acting as guidelines for facilitating and directing human important decisions during lifetime.

Darwinian evolution by natural selection is regarded as another gateway capable of explaining the existence and meaning of life (Dawkins 1986). Menelaos Apostolou, Assistant Professor at the University of Nicosia, in his book, Feeling Good: An Evolutionary Perspective on Life Choices, explores human decision-making from the perspective of Darwinian evolutionary science by addressing the question of how to live a life characterized by more positive than negative feelings.

The book begins by criticizing philosophy’s inability to direct humans toward a happy life, simply because philosophy has had very little knowledge on human nature and mind. Instead, Apostolou acknowledges the work of Darwin and Wallace and the subsequent advancement in understanding human nature done by evolutionary theory. In general, in this book he argues that based on genetic makeup and environmental conditions, individuals should make decisions in their daily life that increase the chance of survival and reproduction.

In the first chapter, Apostolou briefly and in a very simple language explains the origin  and evolution of life and the fundamental evolutionary forces. Then, he summarizes ….

Read the rest here

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ResearchBlogging.org Pazhoohi, F., & Arantes, J. (2016). How to Live a Life with More Positive Than Negative Feelings? A Review of Menelaos Apostolou, Feeling Good: An Evolutionary Perspective on Life Choices Evolutionary Psychological Science DOI: 10.1007/s40806-016-0069-1

Cuckoldary is rare in humans!

Human behavioral scientists argue that extra-pair copulation is adaptive in human females, as through extra-pair copulation, women can acquire good genes from other potential mates. This is suggested because it is found that women experience greater sexual attraction to particular extra-pair men, but not their own partners, during their highest peak of fertility (Gangestad & Thornhil, 2008).

However, recent genetic evidences cast doubt on such arguments and suggest that the rate of cuckoldry is very low in humans (around 1 percent). To achieve historical records on cuckoldry, scientists compare family specific Y chromosomal variation between men that based on genealogical evidence, are patrilineally related. “The surprising result of these new studies is that human extra-pair paternity rates have stayed near-constant at around 1% across several human societies over the past several hundred years” (Larmuseau et al., 2016). Greeff and Erasmus (2015) also showed that genetic analysis in Afrikaner families in South Africa shows 0.9% rate of cuckoldry and argued that given the current data on historical populations we have to conclude that, at least for Western human populations, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%”.

So what does it mean? Does the rarity of cuckoldry in human historical records mean that women do not look for potential mates with good genes, or it simply means that human men are good in mate retention and anti-cuckoldry tactics? That’s the question that should be considered now.

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ResearchBlogging.org Gangestad, S., & Thornhill, R. (2008). Human oestrus Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275 (1638), 991-1000 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1425

Greeff, J., & Erasmus, J. (2015). Three hundred years of low non-paternity in a human population Heredity, 115 (5), 396-404 DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2015.36

Larmuseau MH, Matthijs K, & Wenseleers T (2016). Cuckolded Fathers Rare in Human Populations. Trends in ecology & evolution, 31 (5), 327-9 PMID: 27107336

Mate Retention Tactics Decline with Age of Men

Physical attractiveness influences mate selection across cultures, and youthfulness of women is associated with their future reproductive value and fertility. Men attribute importance to youthful features in females such as large eyes, small nose, higher pitched voice, and full lips and perceive these neotenous features as attractive. More feminine women report more frequently being guarded by their partners than less feminine and less attractive women; (Mate retention or mate guarding tactics are behaviors that men and women use to reduce the likelihood of their partner’s infidelity. For example, vigilance, monopolization of mate’s time, emotional manipulation, and derogation of competitors are just to name a few).

Additionally, men undergo hormonal (i.e. testosterone) age-related changes which are associated with decreased ability to attract mates, compete with rival men, decreased sexual motivation, energy availability, and a compromised ability to acquire resources. Men over 45 years report decreased sexual desire, sexual arousal, and activity.

In their recent paper, Pazhoohi, Jahromi, and Doyle (2016) showed that as men age, mate retention tactic use declines. Considering age-dependent testosterone decrease and the association of testosterone with the intensity of mate retention, they showed that men show a lesser degree of mate retention behaviors as they age.

However, one limitation of their study has been that they have not measured testosterone, as they state “The major limitation of the current study is the lack of direct measures of testosterone from male participants. Further investigations would be appropriate to test circulating or salivary testosterone levels and their relationship to mate retention behavior performed by men and at what age.”

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ResearchBlogging.orgPazhoohi, F., Jahromi, A., & Doyle, J. (2016). Mate Retention Tactics Decline with Age of Iranian Men Evolutionary Psychological Science DOI: 10.1007/s40806-016-0046-8

Cross-cultural variation in men’s preference for sexual dimorphism in women’s faces

Both attractiveness judgements and mate preferences vary considerably cross-culturally. We investigated whether men’s preference for femininity in women’s faces varies between 28 countries with diverse health conditions by analysing responses of 1972 heterosexual participants. Although men in all countries preferred feminized over masculinized female faces, we found substantial differences between countries in the magnitude of men’s preferences. Using an average femininity preference for each country, we found men’s facial femininity preferences correlated positively with the health of the nation, which explained 50.4% of the variation among countries. The weakest preferences for femininity were found in Nepal and strongest in Japan. As high femininity in women is associated with lower success in competition for resources and lower dominance, it is possible that in harsher environments, men prefer cues to resource holding potential over high fecundity.

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ResearchBlogging.org

Marcinkowska UM, Kozlov MV, Cai H, Contreras-Garduño J, Dixson BJ, Oana GA, Kaminski G, Li NP, Lyons MT, Onyishi IE, Prasai K, Pazhoohi F, Prokop P, Rosales Cardozo SL, Sydney N, Yong JC, & Rantala MJ (2014). Cross-cultural variation in men’s preference for sexual dimorphism in women’s faces. Biology letters, 10 (4) PMID: 24789138