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.
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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
In their book The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality, Randy Thornhill, Distinguished Professor at The University of New Mexico, and Corey L. Fincher, Assistant Professor at University of Warwick, present a new interpretation of human values and cultural behaviors, on the basis of ecological variations in parasite-stress prevalence across and within nations.
Before delineating their theory in upcoming chapters, in the second chapter Thornhill and Fincher discuss their philosophical viewpoints on scientific investigation in general, and evolutionary science in particular. First, the chapter compares philosophical and scientific methods of knowing, concerning exploration of the universe and its function. In particular, in this chapter the authors challenge philosophical aesthetics and argue that pure philosophical reasoning cannot discover causes of nature without scientific testing. The authors further argue that due to personal differences in values (biased common
sense, intuition, and emotional validation of ideas), human pure reasoning, thinking, and deduction are biased, and that aesthetic philosophy cannot empirically falsify or verify hypotheses. They also argue that all areas of science that deal with life and living beings are evolutionary in essence, and that humans are evolved animals and living beings—hence, that all studies of humans are evolutionary and biological studies. … Click here to read the rest.
Pazhoohi, F. (2016). The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality, Infectious Disease, History and Human Values Worldwide (Book Review) Canadian Studies in Population, 43 (1-2), 155-157
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.
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
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.”
Pazhoohi, 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
Language is a unique feature of human beings. In addition to having the ability to use language, humans can conjecture about language consciously and even create realistic constructed languages from scratch. In How the brain got language, Michael A. Arbib, whose work has been influential in shaping the field of computational neuroscience, addresses the title question by exploring the multimodality of language and the Mirror System Hypothesis.
Arbib, a pioneering scientist who links computer science and neuroscience, argues in this volume that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to solve the problem of language evolution as it is “a puzzle of many pieces” (p. 4). He proposes an approach to the question of language evolution that differs from that of other linguists. He hypothesizes that language perception and production emerged from brain mechanisms that evolved to mediate practical non-communicative actions. This stands in contrast to the “speech-only” view of language evolution held by many scholars who consider the evolution from monkey vocalizations to human speech to be “purely in the vocal-auditory domain, without any role for gesture” (p. 179). He specifically argues for the importance of manual gestures for the evolution of the language-ready brain; these processes equipped early Homo Sapiens with the brain mechanisms that allow modern humans to learn languages.
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Question of the origin of play and playfulness has been one concern of Garry Chick, Professor at the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, Penn State University. From an evolutionary perspective, Professor Chick has developed a theory in which he explains adult play and playfulness. It is now known why children and offspring play and what the advantages of play would be in their adult life – they are mentally being prepared for the problems and conflicts that they might face in their adult life. But what is the advantage of play and playfulness in human adults?
Professor Chick has proposed that “both male and female adult humans prefer mates who are playful because playfulness signals desirable attributes in possible mates.” Playfulness in males signals that they are not aggressive and would not harm the mother and the offspring. So females would prefer playful and harmless males. And playfulness in females signals health and fecundity, according to Professor Chick. On this basis, adult playfulness seems to be attractive to the opposite sex.
Professor Chick and two of his colleagues investigated this hypothesis experimentally and supported that with data. The article is now published in the latest issue of American Journal of Play and is accessible for free here.
Garry Chick, Careen Yarnal, and Andrew Purrington (2012). Play and Mate Preference Testing the Signal Theory of Adult Playfulness American Journal of Play, 4 (4)