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Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviors or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations [5] including the abilities to infer others' emotions, discern kin from non-kin, identify and prefer healthier mates, and cooperate with others. There have been studies of human social behaviour related to infanticide , intelligence , marriage patterns, promiscuity , perception of beauty , bride price , and parental investment , with impressive findings.

The theories and findings of evolutionary psychology have applications in many fields, including economics, environment, health, law, management, psychiatry , politics, and literature. Criticism of evolutionary psychology involves questions of testability, cognitive and evolutionary assumptions such as modular functioning of the brain, and large uncertainty about the ancestral environment , importance of non-genetic and non-adaptive explanations, as well as political and ethical issues due to interpretations of research results. Evolutionary psychology is an approach that views human nature as the product of a universal set of evolved psychological adaptations to recurring problems in the ancestral environment.

Proponents suggest that it seeks to integrate psychology into the other natural sciences, rooting it in the organizing theory of biology evolutionary theory , and thus understanding psychology as a branch of biology. Anthropologist John Tooby and psychologist Leda Cosmides note:.

Evolutionary psychology is the long-forestalled scientific attempt to assemble out of the disjointed, fragmentary, and mutually contradictory human disciplines a single, logically integrated research framework for the psychological, social, and behavioral sciences — a framework that not only incorporates the evolutionary sciences on a full and equal basis, but that systematically works out all of the revisions in existing belief and research practice that such a synthesis requires.

Just as human physiology and evolutionary physiology have worked to identify physical adaptations of the body that represent "human physiological nature," the purpose of evolutionary psychology is to identify evolved emotional and cognitive adaptations that represent "human psychological nature. It describes mental processes as computational operations, so that, for example, a fear response is described as arising from a neurological computation that inputs the perceptional data, e. Under this view, any Domain-general learning is impossible because of the Combinatorial explosion.

This implies Domain-specific learning. Evolutionary Psychology specifies the domain as the problems of survival and reproduction. While philosophers have generally considered the human mind to include broad faculties, such as reason and lust, evolutionary psychologists describe evolved psychological mechanisms as narrowly focused to deal with specific issues, such as catching cheaters or choosing mates.

The discipline views the human brain as comprising many functional mechanisms, [ citation needed ] called psychological adaptations or evolved cognitive mechanisms or cognitive modules , designed by the process of natural selection. Examples include language-acquisition modules , incest-avoidance mechanisms , cheater-detection mechanisms , intelligence and sex-specific mating preferences, foraging mechanisms, alliance-tracking mechanisms, agent-detection mechanisms, and others.

Some mechanisms, termed domain-specific , deal with recurrent adaptive problems over the course of human evolutionary history. Evolutionary psychology has roots in cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology but also draws on behavioral ecology , artificial intelligence , genetics , ethology , anthropology , archaeology , biology, and zoology. It is closely linked to sociobiology , [5] but there are key differences between them including the emphasis on domain-specific rather than domain-general mechanisms, the relevance of measures of current fitness , the importance of mismatch theory , and psychology rather than behavior.

Most of what is now labeled as sociobiological research is now confined to the field of behavioral ecology. Nikolaas Tinbergen 's four categories of questions can help to clarify the distinctions between several different, but complementary, types of explanations. Evolutionary psychology has its historical roots in Charles Darwin 's theory of natural selection. In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.

Two of his later books were devoted to the study of animal emotions and psychology; The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in Darwin's work inspired William James 's functionalist approach to psychology. The content of evolutionary psychology has derived from, on the one hand, the biological sciences especially evolutionary theory as it relates to ancient human environments, the study of paleoanthropology and animal behavior and, on the other, the human sciences, especially psychology.

Evolutionary biology as an academic discipline emerged with the modern synthesis in the s and s. Hamilton's papers on inclusive fitness and Robert Trivers 's [21] theories on reciprocity and parental investment helped to establish evolutionary thinking in psychology and the other social sciences. In , Edward O. Wilson combined evolutionary theory with studies of animal and social behavior, building on the works of Lorenz and Tinbergen, in his book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. In the s, two major branches developed from ethology.

Firstly, the study of animal social behavior including humans generated sociobiology , defined by its pre-eminent proponent Edward O. Wilson in as "the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior" [22] and in as "the extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization. In the s and s university departments began to include the term evolutionary biology in their titles. From psychology there are the primary streams of developmental , social and cognitive psychology.

Establishing some measure of the relative influence of genetics and environment on behavior has been at the core of behavioral genetics and its variants, notably studies at the molecular level that examine the relationship between genes, neurotransmitters and behavior. Dual inheritance theory DIT , developed in the late s and early s, has a slightly different perspective by trying to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution.

DIT is seen by some as a "middle-ground" between views that emphasize human universals versus those that emphasize cultural variation. The theories on which evolutionary psychology is based originated with Charles Darwin's work, including his speculations about the evolutionary origins of social instincts in humans. Modern evolutionary psychology, however, is possible only because of advances in evolutionary theory in the 20th century.

Evolutionary psychologists say that natural selection has provided humans with many psychological adaptations, in much the same way that it generated humans' anatomical and physiological adaptations. But group selection was considered a weak explanation, because in any group the less altruistic individuals will be more likely to survive, and the group will become less self-sacrificing as a whole. In , William D. Hamilton proposed inclusive fitness theory, emphasizing a gene-centered view of evolution. Hamilton noted that genes can increase the replication of copies of themselves into the next generation by influencing the organism's social traits in such a way that statistically results in helping the survival and reproduction of other copies of the same genes most simply, identical copies in the organism's close relatives.

According to Hamilton's rule , self-sacrificing behaviors and the genes influencing them can evolve if they typically help the organism's close relatives so much that it more than compensates for the individual animal's sacrifice. Inclusive fitness theory resolved the issue of how altruism can evolve. Other theories also help explain the evolution of altruistic behavior, including evolutionary game theory , tit-for-tat reciprocity, and generalized reciprocity.

These theories help to explain the development of altruistic behavior, and account for hostility toward cheaters individuals that take advantage of others' altruism. Several mid-level evolutionary theories inform evolutionary psychology. Humans follow the second strategy. Parental investment theory explains how parents invest more or less in individual offspring based on how successful those offspring are likely to be, and thus how much they might improve the parents' inclusive fitness. According to the Trivers—Willard hypothesis , parents in good conditions tend to invest more in sons who are best able to take advantage of good conditions , while parents in poor conditions tend to invest more in daughters who are best able to have successful offspring even in poor conditions.

According to life history theory , animals evolve life histories to match their environments, determining details such as age at first reproduction and number of offspring. Dual inheritance theory posits that genes and human culture have interacted, with genes affecting the development of culture, and culture, in turn, affecting human evolution on a genetic level see also the Baldwin effect. Evolutionary psychology is based on the hypothesis that, just like hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and immune systems, cognition has functional structure that has a genetic basis, and therefore has evolved by natural selection.

Like other organs and tissues, this functional structure should be universally shared amongst a species, and should solve important problems of survival and reproduction. Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand psychological mechanisms by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might have served over the course of evolutionary history. Consistent with the theory of natural selection, evolutionary psychology sees humans as often in conflict with others, including mates and relatives.

For instance, a mother may wish to wean her offspring from breastfeeding earlier than does her infant, which frees up the mother to invest in additional offspring. Proponents of evolutionary psychology in the s made some explorations in historical events, but the response from historical experts was highly negative and there has been little effort to continue that line of research.

Historian Lynn Hunt says that the historians complained that the researchers:. Hunt states that, "the few attempts to build up a subfield of psychohistory collapsed under the weight of its presuppositions. Not all traits of organisms are evolutionary adaptations. As noted in the table below, traits may also be exaptations , byproducts of adaptations sometimes called "spandrels" , or random variation between individuals. Psychological adaptations are hypothesized to be innate or relatively easy to learn, and to manifest in cultures worldwide.

For example, the ability of toddlers to learn a language with virtually no training is likely to be a psychological adaptation. On the other hand, ancestral humans did not read or write, thus today, learning to read and write require extensive training, and presumably represent byproducts of cognitive processing that use psychological adaptations designed for other functions. For example, Caucasians who move from a northern climate to the equator will have darker skin.

The mechanisms regulating their pigmentation do not change; rather the input to those mechanisms change, resulting in different output. One of the tasks of evolutionary psychology is to identify which psychological traits are likely to be adaptations, byproducts or random variation.

George C. Williams suggested that an "adaptation is a special and onerous concept that should only be used where it is really necessary. A question that may be asked about an adaptation is whether it is generally obligate relatively robust in the face of typical environmental variation or facultative sensitive to typical environmental variation. By contrast, facultative adaptations are somewhat like "if-then" statements. For example, adult attachment style seems particularly sensitive to early childhood experiences.

As adults, the propensity to develop close, trusting bonds with others is dependent on whether early childhood caregivers could be trusted to provide reliable assistance and attention. The adaptation for skin to tan is conditional to exposure to sunlight; this is an example of another facultative adaptation. When a psychological adaptation is facultative, evolutionary psychologists concern themselves with how developmental and environmental inputs influence the expression of the adaptation.

Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviors or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations. Basic gender differences, such as greater eagerness for sex among men and greater coyness among women, [36] are explained as sexually dimorphic psychological adaptations that reflect the different reproductive strategies of males and females. Evolutionary psychology argues that to properly understand the functions of the brain, one must understand the properties of the environment in which the brain evolved.

That environment is often referred to as the "environment of evolutionary adaptedness". The idea of an environment of evolutionary adaptedness was first explored as a part of attachment theory by John Bowlby. More specifically, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness is defined as the set of historically recurring selection pressures that formed a given adaptation, as well as those aspects of the environment that were necessary for the proper development and functioning of the adaptation.

Humans, comprising the genus Homo , appeared between 1. Because the Pleistocene ended a mere 12, years ago, most human adaptations either newly evolved during the Pleistocene, or were maintained by stabilizing selection during the Pleistocene. Evolutionary psychology therefore proposes that the majority of human psychological mechanisms are adapted to reproductive problems frequently encountered in Pleistocene environments. The environment of evolutionary adaptedness is significantly different from modern society. The characteristics of the niche are largely the same as for social mammals, who evolved over 30 million years ago: soothing perinatal experience, several years of on-request breastfeeding, nearly constant affection or physical proximity, responsiveness to need mitigating offspring distress , self-directed play, and for humans, multiple responsive caregivers.

Initial studies show the importance of these components in early life for positive child outcomes. Evolutionary psychologists sometimes look to chimpanzees, bonobos, and other great apes for insight into human ancestral behavior. Since an organism's adaptations were suited to its ancestral environment, a new and different environment can create a mismatch. Because humans are mostly adapted to Pleistocene environments, psychological mechanisms sometimes exhibit "mismatches" to the modern environment.

One example is the fact that although about 10, people are killed with guns in the US annually, [46] whereas spiders and snakes kill only a handful, people nonetheless learn to fear spiders and snakes about as easily as they do a pointed gun, and more easily than an unpointed gun, rabbits or flowers. There is thus a mismatch between humans' evolved fear-learning psychology and the modern environment.

This mismatch also shows up in the phenomena of the supernormal stimulus , a stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which the response evolved. The term was coined by Niko Tinbergen to refer to non-human animal behavior, but psychologist Deirdre Barrett said that supernormal stimulation governs the behavior of humans as powerfully as that of other animals. She explained junk food as an exaggerated stimulus to cravings for salt, sugar, and fats, [50] and she says that television is an exaggeration of social cues of laughter, smiling faces and attention-grabbing action.

The human mind still responds to personalized, charismatic leadership primarily in the context of informal, egalitarian settings. Hence the dissatisfaction and alienation that many employees experience. Salaries, bonuses and other privileges exploit instincts for relative status, which attract particularly males to senior executive positions.

Is Religion Biologically Hardwired?

Evolutionary theory is heuristic in that it may generate hypotheses that might not be developed from other theoretical approaches. One of the major goals of adaptationist research is to identify which organismic traits are likely to be adaptations, and which are byproducts or random variations. As noted earlier, adaptations are expected to show evidence of complexity, functionality, and species universality, while byproducts or random variation will not. In addition, adaptations are expected to manifest as proximate mechanisms that interact with the environment in either a generally obligate or facultative fashion see above.

Evolutionary psychologists are also interested in identifying these proximate mechanisms sometimes termed "mental mechanisms" or "psychological adaptations" and what type of information they take as input, how they process that information, and their outputs. Evolutionary psychologists use several strategies to develop and test hypotheses about whether a psychological trait is likely to be an evolved adaptation.

Buss [55] notes that these methods include:. Evolutionary psychologists also use various sources of data for testing, including experiments, archaeological records , data from hunter-gatherer societies, observational studies, neuroscience data, self-reports and surveys, public records , and human products. Foundational areas of research in evolutionary psychology can be divided into broad categories of adaptive problems that arise from the theory of evolution itself: survival, mating, parenting, family and kinship, interactions with non-kin, and cultural evolution.

Problems of survival are clear targets for the evolution of physical and psychological adaptations. Major problems the ancestors of present-day humans faced included food selection and acquisition; territory selection and physical shelter; and avoiding predators and other environmental threats. Consciousness meets George Williams ' criteria of species universality, complexity, [62] and functionality, and it is a trait that apparently increases fitness. In his paper "Evolution of consciousness," John Eccles argues that special anatomical and physical adaptations of the mammalian cerebral cortex gave rise to consciousness.

The concept of consciousness can refer to voluntary action, awareness, or wakefulness. However, even voluntary behavior involves unconscious mechanisms. Many cognitive processes take place in the cognitive unconscious, unavailable to conscious awareness. Some behaviors are conscious when learned but then become unconscious, seemingly automatic. Learning, especially implicitly learning a skill, can take place outside of consciousness. For example, plenty of people know how to turn right when they ride a bike, but very few can accurately explain how they actually do so.

Evolutionary psychology approaches self-deception as an adaptation that can improve one's results in social exchanges. Sleep may have evolved to conserve energy when activity would be less fruitful or more dangerous, such as at night, and especially during the winter season.


Many experts, such as Jerry Fodor , write that the purpose of perception is knowledge, but evolutionary psychologists hold that its primary purpose is to guide action. Building and maintaining sense organs is metabolically expensive, so these organs evolve only when they improve an organism's fitness. Scientists who study perception and sensation have long understood the human senses as adaptations to their surrounding worlds. Homing pigeons, for example, can hear very low-pitched sound infrasound that carries great distances, even though most smaller animals detect higher-pitched sounds.

Evolutionary psychologists contend that perception demonstrates the principle of modularity, with specialized mechanisms handling particular perception tasks. In evolutionary psychology, learning is said to be accomplished through evolved capacities, specifically facultative adaptations. Motivations direct and energize behavior, while emotions provide the affective component to motivation, positive or negative.

Recently, it has been suggested that reward systems may evolve in such a way that there may be an inherent or unavoidable trade-off in the motivational system for activities of short versus long duration. Cognition refers to internal representations of the world and internal information processing.

From an evolutionary psychology perspective, cognition is not "general purpose," but uses heuristics, or strategies, that generally increase the likelihood of solving problems that the ancestors of present-day humans routinely faced. For example, present day humans are far more likely to solve logic problems that involve detecting cheating a common problem given humans' social nature than the same logic problem put in purely abstract terms. Gamblers may falsely believe that they have hit a "lucky streak" even when each outcome is actually random and independent of previous trials.

Evolutionary psychology is primarily interested in finding commonalities between people, or basic human psychological nature. From an evolutionary perspective, the fact that people have fundamental differences in personality traits initially presents something of a puzzle. However, understanding the concept of heritability can be tricky — heritability refers only to the differences between people, never the degree to which the traits of an individual are due to environmental or genetic factors, since traits are always a complex interweaving of both. Personality traits are conceptualized by evolutionary psychologists as due to normal variation around an optimum, due to frequency-dependent selection behavioral polymorphisms , or as facultative adaptations.

Like variability in height, some personality traits may simply reflect inter-individual variability around a general optimum. For example, if most of the population is generally trusting and gullible, the behavioral morph of being a "cheater" or, in the extreme case, a sociopath may be advantageous. For example, later born children are more likely than first borns to be rebellious, less conscientious and more open to new experiences, which may be advantageous to them given their particular niche in family structure. However, shared environmental influences often decrease to near zero after adolescence but do not completely disappear.

According to Steven Pinker , who builds on the work by Noam Chomsky , the universal human ability to learn to talk between the ages of 1 — 4, basically without training, suggests that language acquisition is a distinctly human psychological adaptation see, in particular, Pinker's The Language Instinct. Pinker and Bloom argue that language as a mental faculty shares many likenesses with the complex organs of the body which suggests that, like these organs, language has evolved as an adaptation, since this is the only known mechanism by which such complex organs can develop.

Pinker follows Chomsky in arguing that the fact that children can learn any human language with no explicit instruction suggests that language, including most of grammar, is basically innate and that it only needs to be activated by interaction. Chomsky himself does not believe language to have evolved as an adaptation, but suggests that it likely evolved as a byproduct of some other adaptation, a so-called spandrel.

But Pinker and Bloom argue that the organic nature of language strongly suggests that it has an adaptational origin. Evolutionary psychologists hold that the FOXP2 gene may well be associated with the evolution of human language. Currently several competing theories about the evolutionary origin of language coexist, none of them having achieved a general consensus.

Tomasello argues that studies of how children and primates actually acquire communicative skills suggests that humans learn complex behavior through experience, so that instead of a module specifically dedicated to language acquisition, language is acquired by the same cognitive mechanisms that are used to acquire all other kinds of socially transmitted behavior.

On the issue of whether language is best seen as having evolved as an adaptation or as a spandrel, evolutionary biologist W. Tecumseh Fitch , following Stephen J. Gould , argues that it is unwarranted to assume that every aspect of language is an adaptation, or that language as a whole is an adaptation.

He criticizes some strands of evolutionary psychology for suggesting a pan-adaptionist view of evolution, and dismisses Pinker and Bloom's question of whether "Language has evolved as an adaptation" as being misleading. He argues instead that from a biological viewpoint the evolutionary origins of language is best conceptualized as being the probable result of a convergence of many separate adaptations into a complex system.

If the theory that language could have evolved as a single adaptation is accepted, the question becomes which of its many functions has been the basis of adaptation. Several evolutionary hypotheses have been posited: that language evolved for the purpose of social grooming, that it evolved as a way to show mating potential or that it evolved to form social contracts. Evolutionary psychologists recognize that these theories are all speculative and that much more evidence is required to understand how language might have been selectively adapted. Given that sexual reproduction is the means by which genes are propagated into future generations, sexual selection plays a large role in human evolution.

Human mating , then, is of interest to evolutionary psychologists who aim to investigate evolved mechanisms to attract and secure mates. In Robert Trivers published an influential paper [94] on sex differences that is now referred to as parental investment theory. The size differences of gametes anisogamy is the fundamental, defining difference between males small gametes — sperm and females large gametes — ova. Trivers noted that anisogamy typically results in different levels of parental investment between the sexes, with females initially investing more.

Trivers proposed that this difference in parental investment leads to the sexual selection of different reproductive strategies between the sexes and to sexual conflict. For example, he suggested that the sex that invests less in offspring will generally compete for access to the higher-investing sex to increase their inclusive fitness also see Bateman's principle [95]. Trivers posited that differential parental investment led to the evolution of sexual dimorphisms in mate choice , intra- and inter- sexual reproductive competition, and courtship displays.

In mammals, including humans, females make a much larger parental investment than males i. Parental investment theory is a branch of life history theory. Buss and Schmitt 's Sexual Strategies Theory [96] proposed that, due to differential parental investment, humans have evolved sexually dimorphic adaptations related to "sexual accessibility, fertility assessment, commitment seeking and avoidance, immediate and enduring resource procurement, paternity certainty, assessment of mate value, and parental investment.

Women are generally more selective when choosing mates, especially under long term mating conditions. However, under some circumstances, short term mating can provide benefits to women as well, such as fertility insurance, trading up to better genes, reducing risk of inbreeding, and insurance protection of her offspring.

Due to male paternity insecurity, sex differences have been found in the domains of sexual jealousy. This particular pattern is predicted because the costs involved in mating for each sex are distinct. Women, on average, should prefer a mate who can offer resources e. Men, on the other hand, are never certain of the genetic paternity of their children because they do not bear the offspring themselves "paternity insecurity". This suggests that for men sexual infidelity would generally be more aversive than emotional infidelity because investing resources in another man's offspring does not lead to propagation of their own genes.

Another interesting line of research is that which examines women's mate preferences across the ovulatory cycle. Known as the ovulatory shift hypothesis , the theory posits that, during the ovulatory phase of a woman's cycle approximately days 10—15 of a woman's cycle , [] a woman who mated with a male with high genetic quality would have been more likely, on average, to produce and rear a healthy offspring than a woman who mated with a male with low genetic quality. These putative preferences are predicted to be especially apparent for short-term mating domains because a potential male mate would only be offering genes to a potential offspring.

This hypothesis allows researchers to examine whether women select mates who have characteristics that indicate high genetic quality during the high fertility phase of their ovulatory cycles. Indeed, studies have shown that women's preferences vary across the ovulatory cycle.

Selected Publications

In particular, Haselton and Miller showed that highly fertile women prefer creative but poor men as short-term mates. Creativity may be a proxy for good genes. Reproduction is always costly for women, and can also be for men. Individuals are limited in the degree to which they can devote time and resources to producing and raising their young, and such expenditure may also be detrimental to their future condition, survival and further reproductive output.

Parental investment is any parental expenditure time, energy etc. Components of fitness Beatty include the well-being of existing offspring, parents' future reproduction , and inclusive fitness through aid to kin Hamilton , Robert Trivers' theory of parental investment predicts that the sex making the largest investment in lactation , nurturing and protecting offspring will be more discriminating in mating and that the sex that invests less in offspring will compete for access to the higher investing sex see Bateman's principle.

The benefits of parental investment to the offspring are large and are associated with the effects on condition, growth, survival and ultimately, on reproductive success of the offspring. However, these benefits can come at the cost of parent's ability to reproduce in the future e.

Science and the World's Religions [3 volumes]

Overall, parents are selected to maximize the difference between the benefits and the costs, and parental care will likely evolve when the benefits exceed the costs. The Cinderella effect is an alleged high incidence of stepchildren being physically, emotionally or sexually abused, neglected, murdered, or otherwise mistreated at the hands of their stepparents at significantly higher rates than their genetic counterparts.

It takes its name from the fairy tale character Cinderella, who in the story was cruelly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Parental efforts and investments are valuable resources, and selection favors those parental psyches that allocate effort effectively to promote fitness. The adaptive problems that challenge parental decision making include both the accurate identification of one's offspring and the allocation of one's resources among them with sensitivity to their needs and abilities to convert parental investment into fitness increments….

However, they note that not all stepparents will "want" to abuse their partner's children, or that genetic parenthood is any insurance against abuse. They see step parental care as primarily "mating effort" towards the genetic parent. Inclusive fitness is the sum of an organism's classical fitness how many of its own offspring it produces and supports and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting others.

From the gene's point of view, evolutionary success ultimately depends on leaving behind the maximum number of copies of itself in the population. Until , it was generally believed that genes only achieved this by causing the individual to leave the maximum number of viable offspring. However, in W. Hamilton proved mathematically that, because close relatives of an organism share some identical genes, a gene can also increase its evolutionary success by promoting the reproduction and survival of these related or otherwise similar individuals.

Hamilton concluded that this leads natural selection to favor organisms that would behave in ways that maximize their inclusive fitness. It is also true that natural selection favors behavior that maximizes personal fitness. Hamilton's rule describes mathematically whether or not a gene for altruistic behavior will spread in a population:. The concept serves to explain how natural selection can perpetuate altruism. If there is an "altruism gene" or complex of genes that influences an organism's behavior to be helpful and protective of relatives and their offspring, this behavior also increases the proportion of the altruism gene in the population, because relatives are likely to share genes with the altruist due to common descent.

Altruists may also have some way to recognize altruistic behavior in unrelated individuals and be inclined to support them. Although it is generally true that humans tend to be more altruistic toward their kin than toward non-kin, the relevant proximate mechanisms that mediate this cooperation have been debated see kin recognition , with some arguing that kin status is determined primarily via social and cultural factors such as co-residence, maternal association of sibs, etc. Whatever the proximate mechanisms of kin recognition there is substantial evidence that humans act generally more altruistically to close genetic kin compared to genetic non-kin.

Although interactions with non-kin are generally less altruistic compared to those with kin, cooperation can be maintained with non-kin via mutually beneficial reciprocity as was proposed by Robert Trivers. Direct reciprocity can lead to the evolution of cooperation only if the probability, w, of another encounter between the same two individuals exceeds the cost-to-benefit ratio of the altruistic act:.

Reciprocity can also be indirect if information about previous interactions is shared. Reputation allows evolution of cooperation by indirect reciprocity. Natural selection favors strategies that base the decision to help on the reputation of the recipient: studies show that people who are more helpful are more likely to receive help.

The calculations of indirect reciprocity are complicated and only a tiny fraction of this universe has been uncovered, but again a simple rule has emerged. One important problem with this explanation is that individuals may be able to evolve the capacity to obscure their reputation, reducing the probability, q, that it will be known.

Trivers argues that friendship and various social emotions evolved in order to manage reciprocity. Evolutionary psychologists say that humans have psychological adaptations that evolved specifically to help us identify nonreciprocators, commonly referred to as "cheaters. Humans may have an evolved set of psychological adaptations that predispose them to be more cooperative than otherwise would be expected with members of their tribal in-group , and, more nasty to members of tribal out groups.

These adaptations may have been a consequence of tribal warfare. Though evolutionary psychology has traditionally focused on individual-level behaviors, determined by species-typical psychological adaptations, considerable work has been done on how these adaptations shape and, ultimately govern, culture Tooby and Cosmides, As opposed to a domain-general cultural acquisition program, where an individual passively receives culturally-transmitted material from the group, Tooby and Cosmides , among others, argue that: "the psyche evolved to generate adaptive rather than repetitive behavior, and hence critically analyzes the behavior of those surrounding it in highly structured and patterned ways, to be used as a rich but by no means the only source of information out of which to construct a 'private culture' or individually tailored adaptive system; in consequence, this system may or may not mirror the behavior of others in any given respect.

According to Paul Baltes , the benefits granted by evolutionary selection decrease with age. Natural selection has not eliminated many harmful conditions and nonadaptive characteristics that appear among older adults, such as Alzheimer disease. If it were a disease that killed year-olds instead of year-olds this may have been a disease that natural selection could have eliminated ages ago.

Thus, unaided by evolutionary pressures against nonadaptive conditions, modern humans suffer the aches, pains, and infirmities of aging and as the benefits of evolutionary selection decrease with age, the need for modern technological mediums against non-adaptive conditions increases. As humans are a highly social species, there are many adaptive problems associated with navigating the social world e.

Researchers in the emerging field of evolutionary social psychology have made many discoveries pertaining to topics traditionally studied by social psychologists, including person perception, social cognition, attitudes, altruism, emotions, group dynamics , leadership , motivation, prejudice, intergroup relations, and cross-cultural differences. When endeavouring to solve a problem humans at an early age show determination while chimpanzees have no comparable facial expression.

Researchers suspect the human determined expression evolved because when a human is determinedly working on a problem other people will frequently help. Adaptationist hypotheses regarding the etiology of psychological disorders are often based on analogies between physiological and psychological dysfunctions, [] as noted in the table below. Prominent theorists and evolutionary psychiatrists include Michael T. They, and others, suggest that mental disorders are due to the interactive effects of both nature and nurture, and often have multiple contributing causes.

Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may reflect a side-effect of genes with fitness benefits, such as increased creativity. Some of these speculations have yet to be developed into fully testable hypotheses, and a great deal of research is required to confirm their validity. Evolutionary psychology has been applied to explain criminal or otherwise immoral behavior as being adaptive or related to adaptive behaviors.

Males are generally more aggressive than females, who are more selective of their partners because of the far greater effort they have to contribute to pregnancy and child-rearing. Males being more aggressive is hypothesized to stem from the more intense reproductive competition faced by them.

Males of low status may be especially vulnerable to being childless. It may have been evolutionary advantageous to engage in highly risky and violently aggressive behavior to increase their status and therefore reproductive success. This may explain why males are generally involved in more crimes, and why low status and being unmarried is associated with criminality.

Furthermore, competition over females is argued to have been particularly intensive in late adolescence and young adulthood, which is theorized to explain why crime rates are particularly high during this period. Many conflicts that result in harm and death involve status, reputation, and seemingly trivial insults. Therefore, it was important to be perceived as having a credible reputation for retaliation, resulting in humans to develop instincts for revenge as well as for protecting reputation " honor ".

Pinker argues that the development of the state and the police have dramatically reduced the level of violence compared to the ancestral environment. Whenever the state breaks down, which can be very locally such as in poor areas of a city, humans again organize in groups for protection and aggression and concepts such as violent revenge and protecting honor again become extremely important.

Rape is theorized to be a reproductive strategy that facilitates the propagation of the rapist's progeny. Such a strategy may be adopted by men who otherwise are unlikely to be appealing to women and therefore cannot form legitimate relationships, or by high status men on socially vulnerable women who are unlikely to retaliate to increase their reproductive success even further.

Adaptationist perspectives on religious belief suggest that, like all behavior, religious behaviors are a product of the human brain. As with all other organ functions, cognition 's functional structure has been argued to have a genetic foundation, and is therefore subject to the effects of natural selection and sexual selection. Like other organs and tissues, this functional structure should be universally shared amongst humans and should have solved important problems of survival and reproduction in ancestral environments.

However, evolutionary psychologists remain divided on whether religious belief is more likely a consequence of evolved psychological adaptations, [] or a byproduct of other cognitive adaptations. Coalitional psychology is an approach to explain political behaviors between different coalitions and the conditionality of these behaviors in evolutionary psychological perspective. This approach assumes that since human beings appeared on the earth, they have evolved to live in groups instead of living as individuals to achieve benefits such as more mating opportunities and increased status.

Coalitional psychology posits five hypotheses on how these psychological adaptations operate: []. Critics of evolutionary psychology accuse it of promoting genetic determinism, panadaptionism the idea that all behaviors and anatomical features are adaptations , unfalsifiable hypotheses, distal or ultimate explanations of behavior when proximate explanations are superior, and malevolent political or moral ideas.

Critics have argued that evolutionary psychology might be used to justify existing social hierarchies and reactionary policies.

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In response to such criticism, evolutionary psychologists often caution against committing the naturalistic fallacy — the assumption that "what is natural" is necessarily a moral good. Some criticisms of evolutionary psychology point at contradictions between different aspects of adaptive scenarios posited by evolutionary psychology. One example is the evolutionary psychology model of extended social groups selecting for modern human brains, a contradiction being that the synaptic function of modern human brains require high amounts of many specific essential nutrients so that such a transition to higher requirements of the same essential nutrients being shared by all individuals in a population would decrease the possibility of forming large groups due to bottleneck foods with rare essential nutrients capping group sizes.

It is mentioned that some insects have societies with different ranks for each individual and that monkeys remain socially functioning after removal of most of the brain as additional arguments against big brains promoting social networking. The model of males as both providers and protectors is criticized for the impossibility of being in two places at once, the male cannot both protect his family at home and be out hunting at the same time.

In the case of the claim that a provider male could buy protection service for his family from other males by bartering food that he had hunted, critics point at the fact that the most valuable food the food that contained the rarest essential nutrients would be different in different ecologies and as such vegetable in some geographical areas and animal in others, making it impossible for hunting styles relying on physical strength or risk taking to be universally of similar value in bartered food and instead making it inevitable that in some parts of Africa, food gathered with no need for major physical strength would be the most valuable to barter for protection.

A contradiction between evolutionary psychology's claim of men needing to be more sexually visual than women for fast speed of assessing women's fertility than women needed to be able to assess the male's genes and its claim of male sexual jealousy guarding against infidelity is also pointed at, as it would be pointless for a male to be fast to assess female fertility if he needed to assess the risk of there being a jealous male mate and in that case his chances of defeating him before mating anyway pointlessness of assessing one necessary condition faster than another necessary condition can possibly be assessed.

Evolutionary psychology has been entangled in the larger philosophical and social science controversies related to the debate on nature versus nurture. Evolutionary psychologists typically contrast evolutionary psychology with what they call the standard social science model SSSM. They characterize the SSSM as the " blank slate ", " relativist ", " social constructionist ", and " cultural determinist " perspective that they say dominated the social sciences throughout the 20th century and assumed that the mind was shaped almost entirely by culture.

Critics have argued that evolutionary psychologists created a false dichotomy between their own view and the caricature of the SSSM. Some critics view evolutionary psychology as a form of genetic reductionism and genetic determinism , [] [] a common critique being that evolutionary psychology does not address the complexity of individual development and experience and fails to explain the influence of genes on behavior in individual cases.

The field of behavioral genetics is focused on the study of the proximate influence of genes on behavior. A frequent critique of the discipline is that the hypotheses of evolutionary psychology are frequently arbitrary and difficult or impossible to adequately test, thus questioning its status as an actual scientific discipline, for example because many current traits probably evolved to serve different functions than they do now.

Some critics have argued that researchers know so little about the environment in which Homo sapiens evolved that explaining specific traits as an adaption to that environment becomes highly speculative. Evolutionary psychologists generally presume that, like the body, the mind is made up of many evolved modular adaptations, [] although there is some disagreement within the discipline regarding the degree of general plasticity, or "generality," of some modules.

In contrast, some academics argue that it is unnecessary to posit the existence of highly domain specific modules, and, suggest that the neural anatomy of the brain supports a model based on more domain general faculties and processes. Cecilia Heyes argues that the picture presented by some evolutionary psychology of the human mind as a collection of cognitive instincts - organs of thought shaped by genetic evolution over very long time periods [] [16] - does not fit research results.

She posits instead that humans have cognitive gadgets [] - 'special-purpose organs of thought' built in the course of development through social interaction. These are products of cultural rather than genetic evolution, [] and may develop and change much more quickly and flexibly than cognitive instincts. Among their rebuttals are that some criticisms are straw men , are based on an incorrect nature versus nurture dichotomy, are based on misunderstandings of the discipline, etc.

Their confusion is deep and profound. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Evolutionary Psychology journal. Application of evolutionary theory to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations.

Basic types. Applied psychology. Darwin's finches by John Gould. Key topics. Introduction to evolution Evidence of evolution Common descent Evidence of common descent. Processes and outcomes. Natural history. History of evolutionary theory. Fields and applications. Applications of evolution Biosocial criminology Ecological genetics Evolutionary aesthetics Evolutionary anthropology Evolutionary computation Evolutionary ecology Evolutionary economics Evolutionary epistemology Evolutionary ethics Evolutionary game theory Evolutionary linguistics Evolutionary medicine Evolutionary neuroscience Evolutionary physiology Evolutionary psychology Experimental evolution Phylogenetics Paleontology Selective breeding Speciation experiments Sociobiology Systematics Universal Darwinism.

Social implications. Evolution as fact and theory Social effects Creation—evolution controversy Objections to evolution Level of support. Main article: History of evolutionary psychology. The Origin of Species. Main article: Theoretical foundations of evolutionary psychology. We emphasize the results based on the second set of dates since these represent the time when the populations in our sample last shared close cultural contact, which arguably suits our analyses better than the estimates of deeper, molecular-based divergence dates between the populations in question.

The age of the nodes for which time estimates were available was fixed using the Node Age Constraint tool in Mesquite 3. The time-calibrated supertree was inferred using the combination of Enforce Minimum Node Age Constraints and Arbitrarily Ultrametricize functions in Mesquite 3. The set of characters was mapped onto the tree topology. All character states in the outgroup were scored as 0, absent i. Maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood reconstruction of ancestral character states were performed in Mesquite 3.

The Markov k-state 1 parameter model Mk1 that assumes an equal rate of change between all character states Lewis was used for maximum likelihood reconstruction. An asymmetric likelihood ratio test Pagel b indicated that the asymmetric two-parameter model does not offer a significant improvement over the Mk1 model for any of the seven characters in question, thus validating the Mk1 model.

Each character was mapped onto a set of topologies using the Trace Character History function. This method uses a continuous-time Markov model to infer character changes along each branch of a phylogenetic tree in order to establish the most likely temporal ordering and direction of evolutionary change and the most probable evolutionary pathway between two discrete binary characters.

Evolutionary change in each character along the tree branches is modelled as a Markov process, in which the likelihood of character change is dependent on its current character state. Two models are fitted: an independent, four-parameter model L i in which evolution in each character is independent of the state of the other character, and a dependent, eight-parameter model L d in which the probability of change in one trait is dependent on the state of the other trait.

For example, the probability of a culture gaining shamanism can differ between cultures with a belief in an afterlife and cultures without one. A likelihood ratio LR is used to compare the log likelihoods of the independent and dependent models. The advantage of this method is that its use is not conditioned on the ability to unequivocally reconstruct ancestral character states Nunn The supertree with the preferred set of divergence dates i.

The probability that a model of dependent evolution fits the data significantly better than the model of independent evolution was estimated with a likelihood-ratio test involving Monte Carlo simulations. A likelihood-ratio test generates a null distribution of likelihood ratios, against which the significance of the observed LR is tested. For each simulation, maximum-likelihood estimates of model parameters were optimized using iterations.

If the dependent model fits the data significantly better than the independent model, this indicates that the state of one character affects the probability of change in the other, and that the two characters probably coevolve. Within Africa, South African Khoisan who speak!

A large clade follows, consisting of two groups: hunter-gatherers of East Asia and those in Beringia and America. Maximum likelihood reconstructions of ancestral states for six characters describing hunter-gatherer religiosity. The scale indicates time depth in kya. These characters are less common among African hunter-gatherers. Maximum parsimony favors the absence of shamanism. We cannot determine whether belief in an afterlife and shamanic practices were present in the LCA of present-day hunter-gatherers.

Among present-day African hunter-gatherers the deepest-rooting clades the! The presence of healers among the Mbuti suggests that the Mbuti may once have had shamans, but they lost the trait at some point Winkelman Ancestral presence of active ancestor worship is somewhat less likely. In contrast, its ancestral absence is significantly supported 0. These results suggest ancestor worship could have been present among ancestral hunter-gatherers, but probably not the active form.

CI with values from 0 to 1 measures the amount of homoplasy on a tree; RI also 0—1 measures the degree to which shared derived character states are exhibited on a tree. The resulting CI and RI values for the whole character matrix are low 0. Transitions between character states for selected pairs of characters showing significantly higher likelihood of the dependent model of evolution, indicating that these traits coevolve.

Belief in an afterlife and shamanism emerge in the presence of the fundamental trait of animism. Once these two traits are gained, they are unlikely to be lost Fig. The transitional probabilities indicate that belief in an afterlife evolves more likely in the absence of shamanism than shamanism would evolve in the absence of a belief in an afterlife.

This suggests that belief in an afterlife is likely to have emerged first from the base of animistic beliefs, and later shamanism evolved in the presence of belief in an afterlife Fig. It also indicates that shamanism is likely to be lost in the absence of belief in an afterlife Fig. Belief in an afterlife evolves prior to ancestor worship, and its presence stimulates the subsequent evolution of ancestor worship.

Ancestor worship is unlikely to be lost in the presence of belief in an afterlife Fig. Shamanism seems to have a deep history and continuity, whereas ancestor worship, although it could have evolved very early in the history of modern humans, is a highly labile trait Fig.

Hunter-Gatherers and the Origins of Religion | SpringerLink

Active ancestor worship probably appeared later Fig. Ancestor worship without shamanism seems to be an unstable cultural state that results either in a loss of worshipful relationship with dead kin or in the appearance of the shaman. Ancestor worship with shamanism, on the other hand, appears to be a stable cultural state, rarely lost once achieved, and the same is seen for active ancestor worship with shamanism Fig.

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Surprisingly, not even belief in an afterlife shows any correlation with high gods. But these pairs of characters do not coevolve: in other words, the probability of change in one is not affected by the state of the other see ESM Table A5 for details. Animism is not a religion or philosophy, but a feature of human mentality, a by-product of cognitive processes that enable social intelligence, among other capabilities. It is a widespread way of thinking among hunter-gatherers Bird-David ; Charlton ; Klingensmith ; Piaget This innate cognitive trait allows us to attribute a vital force to animate and inanimate elements in the environment Piaget ; Tylor Once that vital force is assumed, attribution of other human characteristics will follow.

Animistic beliefs are generally adaptive in the environments that prevail in hunter-gatherer societies Bird-David ; Charlton Animistic thinking would have been present in early hominins, certainly earlier than language Coward ; Dunbar It can be inferred from the analyses, or indeed from the universality of animism, that the presence of animistic belief predates the emergence of belief in an afterlife.

Once animistic thought is prevalent in a society, interest in the whereabouts of spirits of the dead could reasonably lead to the concept of an unseen realm where the individual personality of the deceased lives on. The afterlife might be a rewarding continuation of life on earth, or a realm of eternal punishment for those who break social norms. Shamanism significantly correlates with belief in an afterlife, which emerged first. Shamanism then evolved in the presence of belief in a realm of spirits of the dead. If belief in an afterlife is lost, shamanism is also likely to be lost.

The single exception to this in our sample is the Slave, who have shamanism without belief in an afterlife. Although shamanism has been described as the universal religion of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers Eliade ; Winkelman , it is not a religion per se, but a complex of beliefs and behaviors that focus on communication with the ancestral spirits, as well as the general world of spirits in the realm of the afterlife. Shamans are healers, ritual leaders, and influential members of society whose keen insight and success in solving social problems Rossano ; Winkelman can lead to wealth, power, and access to mates.

Shamanism acts as a mechanism to reinforce social norms, encouraging group cooperation through ritual and social bonding, and calming anxiety during times of resource stress Hayden ; Rossano ; Winkelman ; Winkelman Shamans, as Vitebsky puts it, are both spiritual leaders and social workers. It would be reasonable to argue that shamans, who draw their power from communication with the world of spirits, would have initially emerged in strongly animistic societies that believed in an afterlife.

Communication with omniscient and perhaps judgmental spirits of known deceased, including ancestors, would have been a useful tool in the work of the shaman. As humans migrated out of Africa more than 60 kya Henn et al. At the time of the rapid population dispersal of AMH out of Africa along the southern route into Wallacea and Sahul, the physical stress of travel and encounters with unfamiliar cultures in areas already occupied by other hominins would have driven the need for use of both material and non-material culture, including religion, to negotiate identities and relationships among and between groups Coward Evidence for more complex information exchange systems, planning depth and authority, and increased symbolization appears in the archaeological record of Wallacea and Australia prior to 40 kya Balme et al.

These suggestions are in line with the elevated likelihood support of the ancestral presence of shamanism in the deepest out-of-Africa nodes Fig. Despite established speculation by Spencer and Tylor that universal ancestor worship was the rudimentary beginning of religion, our analysis shows that worship of dead kin is neither widespread among hunter-gatherers nor the oldest trait of religion. Fewer than half of the societies in our sample believe that dead kin can influence the living Fig.

In many hunter-gatherer societies the concept of ancestor spirits is absent, or present but they are inactive in human affairs Sheils ; Swanson For example, among the! But the concept of having a worshipful relationship with their own ancestors is absent Marshall Greater likelihood of the presence of active ancestor worship has been linked to societies with unilineal descent where important decisions are made by the kin group Sheils ; Swanson Ancestor worship is an important source of social control that strengthens cohesion among kin and maintains lineal control of power and property Sheils ; Steadman et al.

In contrast, immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies Woodburn seldom recognize dead ancestors who may intervene in their lives. The social structure of these societies does not usually consist of strong kin ties, and individuals do not depend on help from close kin, living or dead Barnard and Woodburn The minimum requirement for veneration of dead ancestors is animism and belief in the survival of the personal identity beyond death. In our analyses, ancestor worship is significantly positively related with belief in an afterlife and shamanism.

Belief in an afterlife evolves prior to shamanism and ancestor worship. There is significant support for coevolution of shamanism with ancestor worship and active ancestor worship. Belief in an afterlife with shamanism appears to be a stable cultural state, rarely lost once achieved. Ancestor worship is also less likely to be lost in the presence of belief in an afterlife with shamanism. This is not to say that the reduction of complexity of religious beliefs and behaviors cannot occur in simple hunter-gatherers. The presence of belief in an afterlife and shamanism is significantly supported in the LCA of Beringian-American as well as North and South American hunter-gatherers Fig.

In the Siriono, this loss was probably part of a substantial decrease in cultural complexity during the expansion of Tupi language speakers across lowland South America Walker et al. This is supported by the prevalence of shamanism among hunter-gatherer societies of Eurasia, and corresponding support for the presence of shamanism among their ancestors Fig. The presence of both traits in the LCAs of these groups is significantly supported Fig. High gods were not the first supernatural entities to monitor morality Geertz The power and leadership of the shaman was often based on reaffirming traditional social behavior that was presumed to have been carried out by the ancestors, and still desired and monitored by punishing ancestral spirits, even in those societies where spirits of dead kin were not considered a part of the religion Steadman and Palmer Prior studies have shown that among the four modes of subsistence hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, horticulturalists, and agriculturalists hunter-gatherers are least likely to adopt morally punishing active high gods, if any high gods at all Botero et al.

This pattern is reflected in the distribution and the reconstructed evolution of high gods and active high gods in our sample Fig. The leaders of complex hunter-gatherer societies whose subsistence relies on collective effort should be more likely to benefit from the coercive power of a punishing high god. Our analysis does not support the prevalence of either type of high god among ancestral hunter-gatherers, and the evolution of high gods does not correlate with any of the other traits of hunter-gatherer religion, including ancestor worship.

In a study by Guglielmino et al. On the other hand, according to a more recent study by Currie and Mace , high gods are among those cultural traits that evolve at relatively slow rates in Bantu and Austronesian societies. Our results are consistent with Guglielmino et al. This suggests that the presence of high gods and some other traits related to religion and ritual are influenced by more socioculturally oriented factors, and it lends support to the idea that these types of traits may be more labile.

Such traits would be more readily gained or lost as the adaptively relevant sociopolitical environment changes Irons To some extent this finding may explain the independent pattern of emergence of high gods in our study. Ancestral spirits and local gods with limited powers of supernatural monitoring may have come relatively easily to the minds of early human hunter-gatherers.

These types of supernatural entities operate in a different realm from omniscient and powerful creator gods high gods , who have been shown to be related to a culture of some type of control or decision-making structure Peoples and Marlowe ; Radin ; Swanson The absence of belief in active gods and spirits in the LCA of present-day hunter-gatherers, according to the reconstructions, indicates a deep evolutionary past for the egalitarian ethos of most simple hunter-gatherer societies, whose small mobile populations of self-sufficient individuals make collective action problems less of an issue.

Those societies would be the least likely to accept or benefit from the personal restraints of active ancestors or active high gods. In this study we used a suite of phylogenetic comparative methods to investigate the early evolution of religion. We reconstructed ancestral states for seven characters describing religious beliefs and behaviors in a global sample of 33 hunter-gatherer societies and tested for correlated evolution between these characters and for the direction of cultural change.

Our results indicate that the oldest trait of religion, shared by the most recent common ancestor of present-day hunter-gatherers, was animism. This supports long-standing beliefs about the antiquity and fundamental role of this component of human mentality, which enables people to attribute intent and lifelike qualities to inanimate objects and would have prompted belief in beings or forces in an unseen realm of spirits. Reconstructions are equivocal on whether or not the religion of the LCA of present-day hunter-gatherers included belief in an afterlife, shamanism, ancestor worship, and the concept of a single creator deity, or a high god.

Belief in either ancestral spirits or creator deities who remain active in human affairs was not present in ancestral hunter-gatherer societies, according to the reconstructions. This may be indicative of a deep past for the egalitarian nature of hunter-gatherer societies, to whom high gods would appear to be rulers Peoples and Marlowe The majority of traits of religion we investigated exhibit a correlated pattern of character change on phylogeny. The results suggest that belief in an afterlife, shamanism, and ancestor worship evolve in concerted fashion as an integrated system of beliefs and practices.

This is in line with a variety of evidence from other studies Botero et al. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Hunter-Gatherers and the Origins of Religion. Open Access. First Online: 06 May Many hunter-gatherer societies have little or no concept of religion per se, though a religious dimension often permeates normal activities and is continuous with daily life Lee Hunter-gatherer religions are seldom religions of protest or evangelism Woodburn Instead, each society focuses on maintaining its unique beliefs and culture, along with a sense of self-worth and the general health and well-being of the group Woodburn , Simple egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups generally hold fewer religious beliefs and participate in less ritual Marlowe than more complex groups.

But hunter-gatherers do have religion, embodied in sacred healing dances and rituals marking life events. Although there is considerable variation in specific religious traits among hunter-gatherer societies, a cross-cultural view reveals underlying similarities in cosmology, ritual, and belief Rossano These often include gods and spirits with limited powers who are typically not omniscient and usually lack concern for morality and human affairs Marlowe ; Norenzayan et al. In this study we investigate early evolution of religion by reconstructing ancestral states for seven characters describing religious beliefs and behaviors in a global sample of 33 hunter-gatherer societies Fig.

Using a time-calibrated supertree based on published genetic and linguistic phylogenetic trees, and linguistic classification as a proxy for population history, we reconstruct ancestral character states and test for correlated evolution between the characters and for the direction of cultural change. Open image in new window. Population Sample We used primary ethnographic sources to create a data matrix of characters describing religiosity in a sample of 33 hunter-gatherer societies.

Trait Definition and Character Matrix Construction Original coding of data in all 33 sample societies for the traits of animism Tylor , belief in an afterlife Bering , shamanism Eliade ; Winkelman , and ancestor worship Sheils ; Spencer ; Steadman et al. The resulting character matrix has 33 terminals hunter-gatherer populations and 7 characters Fig. The reconstructions of ancestral states for religious beliefs and behaviors show several consistent patterns using maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood methods, and topologies with two alternative sets of divergence dates.

The presence of animistic concepts in the religions of all sample societies Fig. Reconstructions of ancestral states for each node based on maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood using two sets of divergence dates are given in ESM Table A4. The dependent models for the evolution of selected pairs of characters showing support for correlated evolution are shown in Fig. Alcorta, C. Ritual, emotion, and sacred symbols: the evolution of religion as an adaptive complex. Human Nature, 16 4 , — CrossRef Google Scholar. Atran, S. The evolution of religion: how cognitive by-products, adaptive learning heuristics, ritual displays, and group competition generate deep commitments to prosocial religions.

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