Chapter 2 Evolutionary


Another perspective — the evolutionary perspective — is introduced. It has its own specific way of thinking about things which is very different from the three presented in Chapter 1.

The evolutionary perspective looks at change over a very long timescale.

It also looks for functional rather than causal explanations for behaviour.


It uses behavioural, material and symbolic data.

It looks at what conditions may have prevailed in our dim and distant past, and tries to determine evolutionary principles. It then uses reverse engineering to work out why things are the way they are now. For example: Why have men got big brains? In the past (as in the present), men had to impress women to get sex and, lacking a big colourful tail like peacocks, had to develop big brains so they could be witty and intelligent. OK, so why have women got big brains, while peahens are dull and brown with no big tails? Women have got brains almost the size of men's so they they are capable of understanding how witty and intelligent men are and will want to have sex with them. (This is a true theory that (male) evolutionary psychologists have come up with — so you can see what sort of rubbish this methodology can lead to.)


It is concerned with "humanness" in terms of us being a unique species, but is not particularly interested in us as individuals.

We are fixed by our genes in the short term, but our genes — and thus our behaviour — can change in the long term.

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