Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1851683569

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide is a uniquely accessible yet comprehensive guide to the study of the effects of evolutionary theory on human behaviour. Written specifically for the general reader, and for entry-level students, it covers all the most important elements of this interdisciplinary subject, from the role of evolution in our selection of partner, to the influence of genetics on parenting. The book draws widely on examples, case studies and background facts to convey a substantial amount of information, and is authored by the UK’s leading experts in the field, from the only dedicated research and teaching institute.

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has been observed in many different cultures across Europe, Asia and Africa and appears to be a universal parental behaviour. It is known as motherese. While it may sound extremely daft, this ‘sing-song’ way of speaking is ideally suited to stimulating a young baby’s hearing. The high intonation and use of simple words with repetition makes it easier for babies to distinguish the different parts of speech. The contrast between syllables is enhanced by the very large swings in pitch, whilst

to this, because our babies are born about nine months earlier than we would expect on the basis of their brain size: in our case, unlike other primates (and most other mammals) a significant amount of brain growth occurs after birth. Human babies are born at an earlier stage of development, relative to other primates, in order to allow them to negotiate through the rather narrow female pelvis – something they would not be able to do if they stayed the course of gestation that any self-respecting

always been more extended than the initial impression sometimes given by our perception of life in small-scale societies. This point is made in Daniel Nettle’s analyses of the size of language communities, which we discussed in Chapter 9: when ecological stability demands a wider network of co-operation, language communities (one marker for trading partnerships) are larger. A more explicit example is offered by Ernst Fehr and Joseph Henrich who point to the tradition of hxaro exchange

relationships practised by !Kung San hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. Hxaro relationships are long-term trading partnerships which help to manage environmental risk. During times of crisis, like droughts, individuals may ‘activate’ a partnership by travelling, as much as 200km, to visit one of their trading partners, staying there for several weeks and sharing water and food with the other members of the partner’s group. Since different individuals sustained different hxaro partners, the

mind 143–4 Chomsky, Noam 50 Clark, Anne 182 co-operation animal 21–2 human 122–3, 187–93, 197 see also altruism cognition and circles of intimacy 121–2 evolution 11, 29, 34–5 infant 55–72 and neocortex size 117, 127, 145 ratchet effect 63–5, 66–7, 72 and religion 166, 175–6, 180 and shared attention 61–5, 68, 72 and story-telling 148, 171, 175–6, 180 communication animal 129–30, 134, 145 and physical contact 134 see also language

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