Posts tagged with evolution
December 2, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
For a quarter-century, women have outnumbered men at Scrabble clubs and tournaments in America, but a woman has won the national championship only once, and all the world champions have been men. Among the world’s 50 top-ranked players, typically about 45 are men.
The top players, both male and female, point to a simple explanation for the disparity: more men are willing to do whatever it takes to reach the top. You need more than intelligence and a good vocabulary to become champion. You have to spend hours a day learning words like ‘khat,’ doing computerised drills and memorising long lists of letter combinations, called alphagrams, that can form high-scoring seven-letter words.
. . .
The guys who memorise these lists have a hard time explaining their passion. But the evolutionary roots of it seem clear to anthropologists like Helen Fisher of Rutgers University.
‘Evolution has selected for men with a taste for risking everything to get to the top of the hierarchy,’ she said, ‘because those males get more reproductive opportunities, not only among primates but also among human beings. Women don’t get as big a reproductive payoff by reaching the top. They’re just as competitive with themselves – they want to do a good job just as much as men do – but men want to be more competitive with others.’”
From New York Times
Images from Adverblog
July 7, 2010 by Evie Bentley.
So many people love eating chocolate, and believe it is a mood-influencing food giving pleasure plus a lift in mood – a happyfood!
Now research suggests that many depressed people really do eat more chocolate. These findings came from both men and women who scored high on a psychometric depression scale but who were not receiving medication. There were no reported increases in other antioxident-rich foods, or other sources of caffeine, fat or sugar, between these depressed adults and non-depressed adults, just the increased chocolate consumption. What is not known is why the chocolate intake increased.
The evolutionary hypothesis explains our liking of chocolate as a combination of pleasures – the sweetness, the creamy texture in the mouth perhaps in some way reminiscent of breast milk – with the high energy-denseness of this food. But there is a complete lack of evidence that breast milk, even in mothers who do eat a lot of chocolate, has any chocolate flavour! So this does not explain why consumption of chocolate rather than any other sweet and creamy food increased in depressed people. Is it the pleasure which is the key factor? Or is it the cultural perception of chocolate as a reward food? Or is there another reason?
June 20, 2010 by Cara Flanagan.
Meat was an important source of nutrition for ancestral humans (as it is today, MacDonalds aside). It has been suggested that the importance of meat meant that men often traded it for other favours such as forging allegiances or for sex (Stanford, 1999 – see pages 101, 130 and 131 of our A2 Complete Companion). Observations of animal and human behaviour have been used to support this ‘meat for sex’ hypothesis, however a recently published study says the suggestion is baseless. Gilby et al. (2010) conducted an observational study of chimpanzees over a 28 year period (see here and here) and found no evidence that males hunted more when females were most fertile, nor were they more likely to share meat with fertile females. However there continues to be evidence that supports the meat for sex hypothesis (see here). This study by Gomes and Boesch (2006) found direct evidence of meat exchange in another study of wild chimpanzees. It may be that males exchange meat on a long-term basis i.e. they don’t do it just when a female is fertile but provide meat continually so they can take advantage of fertile periods when they occur.
July 20, 2009 by Evie Bentley.
A short presentation plus a great track, have a look at this.
May 29, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
Some interesting material online lately regarding Alistair Campbell’s battle with depression, especially discussion regarding the notion that the condition might be somehow ‘good for you’.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Campbell said it was the best thing that happened to him as “he sorted himself out after it” but that “it is a horrible, intense experience”.
I don’t want to overstate Campbell’s point – in the interview he’s obviously anxious that we don’t draw such a simplistic conclusion – but this argument does, of course, echo the position taken by evolutionary psychologists, who claim that, if depression is in part genetic, then such a seemingly costly and dangerous set of behaviours must, at some point, be of some adaptive value. i.e. they must be of some benefit to the individual or their offspring.
More on evolutionary theories of depression here.
September 3, 2008 by Jean Marc Lawton.
One thing that concerns me somewhat about the new AS specification is that the opportunity has been lost to include some evolutionary psychology.
The A2 still retains this increasingly popular psychological area, indeed could be said to be encouraging teachers not familiar with it to include it in their teaching as it cuts across so many A2 areas now and so is somewhat unavoidable.
So the opportunity has been lost on two counts; firstly because it would have been interesting in its Read the rest of this entry »