Summary: Evolutionary Approach To Political Psychology

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  • 01 Natural selection

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  • What are the three essential ingredients of natural selection?

    - Variation
    There needs to be a variation in the genes
    - Inheritance
    Passing it on
    - Differential reproductive success
    What is passed on to commin generations depend on reproductive success, so what is passed on is what vauses you to have more success.
  • What is particulate inheritance?

    - The gene of the parents do not blend
    - You cannot get it through experience
    - So you get genes in gene packs
  • What are three common misunderstands about evolutionary theory?

    Misunderstanding 1: Human behaviour is genetically determined
    o False: environment also means something

    Misunderstanding 2: if it’s evolutionary, we cannot change it
    o False: awareness of something makes it possible to at least work around it to an extent

    Misunderstanding 3: current mechanisms are optimally designed
    o False: humans have evoleved mechanisms that are reasonably good at solving adaptive problems efficiently.
    o We have not evolved in a way that is the best possible but that was the best to solve specific problems with the variation that we had.
    o Because of: (see 01 continued in 02)
    § Mismatch
    § Path dependency
    § Favor fitness over truth
  • What does it mean that there is a mismatch in natural selection that is part of explaining why psychological adaptations are imperfect?

    Evolution is slow.
    Environments and cultural norms change.
    So the norms and enviornments that we live in are different from what the adaptations are adapted to.
    So the adaptation must have been advantageous at some point, but it can be not ideal or even deeply problematic today.
  • What does it mean that there is path dependency in natural selection that is part of explaining why psychological adaptations are imperfect?

    That once one adaptation has been made then it is hard to return back on this.
    Imagine the giraffe starting to evolve a long neck; what would be the most likely next adaptation? An even longer neck.
    So even if someone else would mean that you could better defend yourself, then the adaptations you have limit the likely next adaptation: it is not likely that the giraffe gets a much shorter neck and starts being able to run really fast.
  • What is radical behaviorism?

    Radical behaviorism:
    - Argued that we as humans had no distinct nature, but simply were really good at learning
    - Is not believed anymore, because it seems that humans do actuyally have specific things that we are better at learning and we see this tendency across the globe.
  • What is important for natural selection: intergroup conflict or intragroup conflict?

    Intragroup competition, not intergroup competition:
    - There will always be a lion that wants to eat you, so the important thing is not to outrun the lion, but to outrun your fellow antilopes.
  • What are the three key products of evolution?

    Three key products of evolution: (p. 34)
    - Adaptations
    - By-products: having a navel after losing the umbilical cord, men having nipples
    - Random effects: variation in how the ear looks or how the navel looks
  • What is an "evolved psychological mechanism"?

    An evolved psychological mechanism is a set of processes inside an organism the with the following properties, i.e. It is the modules inside of us that are characterised by the following:
    • It is useful: it solves a specific problem of survival or reproduction recurrently over evolutionary history.
    • It is domaine specific: it is designed only to take in very specific information within a specific domain.
    • It is automatic: it is automatically activated based on input from the environment without you having to think about it.
  • What is the relationship between a module and its input and output?

    - There needs to be an input for the module to be activated
    - We have evolved psycjhological mechanisms for something, but it does not mean that the output will always be the same. It will not be the same, but it is limited. So if your module for aggressiveness towards outgroup is activated, then you will not necessarily beat them up, you might choose to ignore them, but you will not start walking on your hand or eating an apple pie
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