Proposed contributions to the Wikipedia article on Evolutionary Psychology

In addition to the readings chapter summaries, each panel will be responsible for making proposed additions to the Wikipedia article on evolutionary psychology relevant to their topic area(s).

See the Wikipedia entry on Evolutionary Psychology

The contribution should only be a couple of paragraphs that very succinctly summarize the general topic covered
of the week your panel presented. (It should not be a summary of your research article). That is, try to
summarize the most important and relevant in the textbook readings and lecture into readable, concise prose
that a layperson could understand.It should include a couple of references that support the statements.

Place your contribution on this page under the correct heading (below).
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I will revise your contributions and post them to the Wikipedia on Evolutionary Psychology

Before your panel presentation, please email me your proposed changes. I will give you feedback and approval. Then, post your panel's contributions below. Indicate your topic area in bold above your contribution.

Topic: Nature vs. Nurture
The Hunting Hypothesis might explain the emergence of human coalitions as a psychological mechanism. With men being the providers for the family, their lives depended on hunting wild game. They could not risk going about such an arduous task on their own. If they did it alone they risked not catching anything at all sometimes. Also, the meat would spoil if they caught a large animal and could not finish it on their own. Therefore, they hunted together with other men and shared their food. These human coalitions can be seen today.
One form of evolutionary adaptiveness can be found in morning sickness in women during their first trimester. Over thousands of years, women’s bodies have adapted to the dangers that the environment may pose to the developing fetus when they eat something. Therefore, during this time many women experience disgust and even vomiting when eating certain foods which may be toxic to the fetus. Vomiting is the body’s way of coping with the toxins in the environment and keeping them from reaching the child during this critical period when the vital organs are being formed. The function of this physiological reaction is to protect the fetus.

Humans have developed countless other adaptations to help them combat environmental dangers. Some of the basic “tools for staying alive” include freezing, fleeing, fighting, fainting, fright, and submission (Buss, 93). Common fears today can easily be seen as residuals from “yesterday.” For instance, a fear of spiders helps one to avoid getting a poisonous bite, and a fear of heights helps on not to fall off of a cliff and plummet to his or her death (Buss, 94). However, we are not afraid of things that are truly dangerous to us today which our ancestors never had, such as cars.
Addition by Liz Bohley and Sammy Morris

Topic: Learning and Cognition
Panel Members: Ashley Allen and Marisa Molina

In order for the human species to survive and evolve through time, it became necessary for our ancestors to learn how to solve problems. There has been a debate in the field of psychology as to how humans have evolved the ability to find solutions to particular problems. Psychologists who follow the SSSM (Standard Social Science Model) believe in a “general purpose learning mechanism” that lies inside the human brain which allows humans to learn anything. Other psychologists, however, who follow the Integrated Model, believe that humans have mechanisms inside their brains that allow for them to learn through a more structured process, like computers. Both classical and operant conditioning have been used as a means of finding out how the human mind has evolved over time.

According to Steven Gaulin & Donald McBurney, “cognition consists largely of mental processes we take for granted” (143). Back when our ancestors were living in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation) they had evolved cognitive adaptations such as language and cheater detection to help them survive. These same cognitive adaptations are much easier for humans today to learn when compared to cognitive by-products such as reading and writing because these by-products were not necessary for our ancestors to survive. Gaulin & McBurney stated for example with the case of detecting cheaters that “cognitive tasks that come easily and naturally to us are ones we were designed for” (160). Cognition as well as learning are two examples of how human traits have stayed consistent and at times evolved over time.

, Steven J. C., & McBurney, Donald H. (2004) Evolutionary Psychology.

Topic: Environments of Evolutionary Adaption (EEA)
Panel Members: Sydney Johnson, Adrienne Paglinawan, Elizabeth Baxter

The human environment directly affects human evolution; likewise, human evolution greatly effects the surrounding environment. This relationship is important to the understanding of evolutionary psychology and is termed EEA, or Environments of Evolutionary Adaption. According to Harry Heft (2007), each person is exposed to a slightly different environment, which creates an element of individuality. When a group of people is exposed to like environments overtime, a steady rate of evolution may occur. In addition, when the environment is consistently exposed to humans, changes in the natural surroundings will also take place.
According to Pinker, evolutionary psychology can be looked as a bridge between biology and culture. The human mind is a result of a certain history. This history created the biological minds that all humans have today; changing in order to give us the best results in our environment. This human adaption of the mind enables us to produce culture. This idea of culture is the unique way in which humans interact with their environment. The varied environments that humans are exposed to, result in the individual differences among groups of people, or what we would term different cultures (Pinker, 2002).
There is significant reason to support the idea of a complex human nature, described above. The areas of genomics, neural networks and neural plasticity are often used in order to negate the idea of a complex human nature. In this case, however, they can be used as an argument because each of them utilizes a force above and beyond solely nurture. Evolutionary psychology in correlation with study of the human environment explains the way that humans interact with the world and the implications of the brain and mind that each individual is born with (Pinker, 2002).

Heft, Harry. (2007).The Social Constitution of Perceiver-Environment Reciprocity.
Ecological Psychology, 19, 85-105.
Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York:

Panel Members: Sandy Cornejo and Francesca Gatuz
The lifestyles that our ancestors led in the ancestral environment have an immense impact on our lifestyle today. Those adaptations that we are born with and that make our lives easier, such as an ability to speak from an early age, helped our ancestors in surviving and reproducing. Such adaptations make it apparent that not only are we defined by the culture we live in but also by the genes that have been passed on to us that were beneficial to our ancestors. According to Pinker (2002), evolutionary psychology is a powerful link between biology and culture and strong evidence that we are not born a Blank Slate. It became important when basic facts about hunter-gatherer lifestyle were correlated with current human traits, which means that our mind is shaped in such a way that we can obtain the best outcome possible. For example, a man who looks to marry a beautiful woman is taking beauty as a sign of health and fertility. In ancestral times, finding good mates was very important because many resources would be spent on that person and her children.
Our capacity for culture also supports that we are not born with a Blank Slate. Culture is a result of the knowledge of humans and their ability to cooperate, as well as the accumulation of new discoveries that aid survival. The fact that humans are born with innate mechanisms, such as language acquisition and theory of mind also tells us that a Blank Slate does not exist.
Complex adaptations are found everywhere in the world, and they are evolved through the process of natural selection. The development of neuroplasticity has shown us that our brain changes over time, but plasticity is also limited. What is changed about the brain is that which already existed. Moreover, there is no learning without innate mechanisms to do the learning, emphasizing the lack of a Blank Slate.

Topic: Emotions
Panel Members: Tanisha Tatum and Kali Thomas
The evolutionary theory of the brain is that humans evolved domain-specific programs designed to solve adaptive problems. The functioning of one program however, can interfere with the efficiency of another program, making them maladaptive if they are not controlled. Thus, humans also evolved superordinate programs to manage these important sub-programs. According to Cosmides and Tooby (2000), those superordinate programs are emotions. (p.91).
If emotions evolved to keep individual adaptations organized, then they cannot be reduced to any one behavior, cognition, or physiological response. Instead, they are instructions for how these individual mechanisms should interact. Emotions evolved from repeated encounters with situations that evoked certain combinations of programs. The evolution of emotions had to meet certain criteria to be successful. Not only did the situations have to be recurring, they had to be impossible to negotiate without a superordinate program. They also had to be reliable, having recognizable cues for the emotion. Lastly, the situations had to be such that an error in the superordinate program would have greatly endangered the individual’s fitness (Cosmides & Tooby, 2002, p. 92).
Emotions also evolved as a form of communication for the human species. Many emotions produce characteristic displays that broadcast to others the emotion state of the individual to his kin or other people around him. For example, facial expression which go along with the emotion of fear were useful for showing the rest of the tribe that a predator was approaching.


Topic: Personality

Panel Members: Antú Schamberger and Julia Fehrenbach

Personality is thought as being equally distributed between heritability and the environment one lives in. Evolutionary biologists and psychologists tend to focus on species typical adoptions rather than the individual difference amongst human personalities. In evolutionary psychology these individual differences are considered secondary status because they are prone to being skewed by the environment or random mutations (contrasted to heritable personalities). The secondary status mutations are considered noise because it steers away from the core of evolutionary processes (Buss, 2008). Therefore, regardless if one's personality is heritable or dependent on the environment what is important are the personal characteristics brought to each and every situation. For example, when comparisons are made between first-borns and later-borns, first-borns tend to identify with the parents and thus have more authority and later-borns are more likely to develop a different personality marked by rebellious tendencies and thus have new experiences different from those of the first-borns.
Species with two different sexes represent frequency dependent varieties to adaptive situations. Frequency dependent selections are certain characteristics in personality traits that are demonstrated through survival and reproduction. For example, Linda Mealey (1995) proposed that psychopathy is a deceptive strategy in social situations in order to be reproductively successful and survive. Personality differences also have been researched between the two sexes. Studies have found a tendency for women to report higher neuroticism and agreeableness and men to report higher extraversion and conscientiousness (Academic Press, 1997). Overall, evolutionary psychology suggests that individual differences in personality can arise from frequency dependent selection and exposure to the environment that causes individual differences.

Topic: Nature-Nurture Interactionism
Panel members: Suzanne Banda and Ryan Heflin

The Hunting Hypothesis might explain the emergence of human coalitions as a psychological mechanism. With men being the providers for the family, their lives depended on hunting wild game. They could not risk going about such an arduous task on their own. If they did it alone they risked not catching anything at all sometimes. Also, the meat would spoil if they caught a large animal and could not finish it on their own. Therefore, they hunted together with other men and shared their food. These human coalitions can be seen today
One form of evolutionary adaptiveness can be found in morning sickness in women during their first trimester. Over thousands of years, women’s bodies have adapted to the dangers that the environment may pose to the developing fetus when they eat something. Therefore, during this time many women experience disgust and even vomiting when eating certain foods which may be toxic to the fetus. Vomiting is the body’s way of coping with the toxins in the environment and keeping them from reaching the child during this critical period when the vital organs are being formed. The function of this physiological reaction was to protect the fetus.

Evolutionary Cognitive Psychology
Panel Members: Malia Prietto, Joel Schreiber, and Seth Mastumura
Evolutionary Cognitive Psychology is broken down into three parts; the cognitive system, attention and memory, and problem solving. The cognitive system consists of interrelated information-processing devices that each have a specific function to the whole of the system. The devices that exist today may not be what our ancestor’s had. Just like human natural selection, our cognitive devices may have become obsolete if it was not useful to the brain as a whole. There are a set of assumptions that allow the cognitive psychology to relate to the whole of natural sciences.
1. The human mind consists of a set of evolved information-processing mechanisms embedded in the human nervous system.
2. These mechanisms and the development programs that produce them are adaptations produced by natural selection over evolutionary time in ancestral environments.
3. Many of these mechanisms are functionally specialized to produce behavior that solves particular adaptive problems, such as mate selection, language acquisition, and cooperation.
4. To be functionally specialized, many of these mechanisms must be richly structured in content-specific ways.
(Tooby & Cosmides, 1992)
Attention and memory of humans is very selective. Humans only pay attention to information that is useful to that person in a certain situation. Or, in other words, for cognitive mechanisms that are being used at that specific moment.
Humans are susceptible to problem solving errors because of predisposed errors in our judgment. The base-rate fallacy is that people tend to ignore base-rate information when given information that points to a certain type of individual. People ignore percentages and just go with the gut feeling instead of objective facts. Another judgment error is the conjunctive fallacy; which is choosing a more specific answer than a broader answer because it fits the description. The fact is that there is a much higher chance that the person will fit in the broader category.


Topic: How the Two Sexes Emerged
Panel Members: Colleen Burns and Rachel Anderson, Fall 2009

It has been hypothesized that in the past there was only one sex. To sexually reproduce, there was a process known as isogamy (Dawkins, 1989, p. 141). This is when two sex cells of the same size come together and provide equal numbers of genes and food reserves to an offspring. Naturally, there would be some sex cells that were a bit bigger, and some that were a bit smaller. The sex cells that were a bit bigger had an advantage because they could provide their offspring with a bigger food reserve giving them a better, healthier start (Dawkins, 1989, p. 142). The sex cells that were a bit smaller were more mobile and could reach the bigger sex cells quicker, another advantage (Dawkins, 1989, p. 142). Therefore, natural selection would have favored sex cells that were both bigger than average and smaller than average because they both had reproductive advantages. The average sized sex cell did not have any advantages and eventually probably died out.
From this, there became two sexual strategies, honest and exploitative. The exploitative sex cells became smaller and smaller so they could quickly get to the big sex cells that would provide a lot of food. In this process they eventually became so small and quick, that they did not provide any food reserves themselves (Dawkins, 1989, p. 142). In turn, the honest sex cells had to get bigger and bigger to make up for the lack of food reserves the exploitative sex cells were providing them with (Dawkins, 1989, p. 142). Eventually they became immobile, but that was not a problem since the small, exploitative sex cells would come after them. The honest sex cells became the egg, and the exploitative sex cells became the sperm (Dawkins, 1989, p. 143). Thus, there was the emergence of the two sexes.

Dawkins, R. (1989). The Selfish Gene (2nd Ed.) New York: Oxford University Press (Paperback). 140-165.

Topic: Gender Differences
Panel Members: Lauren Anderson, Stephanie Riley, Mario Souza

(Would follow after sexual jealousy part on main wiki) Another sex difference is in risky behaviors. Males are more likely than females to engage in risky behaviors and to not perceive these behaviors as being as risky as they really are. Sometimes perception of risk can be changed in both males and females if they have known someone who has had negative outcomes because of risky behavior. Particularly, when it comes to sex, males are more likely to engage in casual sex and less likely to be concerned about wearing a condom. Also, males perceive less risk when it comes to HIV and other STDs even if they engage in risky sexual behavior.



Topic: Family + Kinship
Panel Members: Stephanie Taylor, Grace Gayles, Cristina Perez

Based on the theory of Parent-Offspring conflict, there also exists mother-offspring conflict in utero. The fetus has to do everything it can to avoid a spontaneous abortion even before the mother knows that she is pregnant. This is the beginning of the conflict in utero where the fetus utilizes certain adaptations in order to survive. This includes secretion of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and elevation of mother’s blood pressure. These mechanisms allow the fetus to remain implanted and facilitate the delivery of nutrients to the fetus. In both instances, the fetus is trying to get more resources from the mother than she is willing to give at her own expense. (Buss, pg.225)
In order for an individual’s genes to survive in the gene pool, it is first necessary to recognize one’s own kin. Relatives can identify their kin through odor, exposure in childhood/association, and kin terminology (Buss, p. 237). In a study done by Webster (2003), the factors of genetic relatedness, relatedness uncertainty, and wealth and sex, influenced one’s decision to help their kin. It was found that those closest in genetic relatedness received the most aid in terms of monetary help. Those with the highest degree of relatedness uncertainty received less help. It is known that grandmothers invest more in their grandchildren because they are 100% certain that the fetus is the mothers. Relatedness uncertainty also plays a role in parental investment. If the child looks more like the father, the father will have a more positive relationship towards their child. Studies have even gone further to suggest that offspring resemblance to the father can affect violence in the family (Buss, p.237).


Buss, D. M. (2007). Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind. (3rd Ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Dawkins, R. The Selfish Gene. (2006). The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.

Webster, G. D. (2003). Prosocial behavior in families: Moderators of resource sharing. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 644-652.

Topic: Kinship
Panel Members: Isaiah Magpali-Isaac, Tatiana Hughes, Tanisha Tatum
The concept of inclusive fitness suggests that any group of species, such as humans will want to help their genetic kin to survive and reproduce because in helping their kin, their genes will continue to spread. According to Hamilton’s c<rb rule, people are more inclined to help others when the costs do not outweigh the benefits. Using Hamilton’s rule, the idea of altruism can be explained as the cost of the person being altruistic is less than the benefits provided multiplied by the genetic relatedness shared by the person being altruistic and the recipient of the altruistic act.
Burnstein et al. (1994) experiment shows the closer you perceive your kin, the more likely you are to help them, because when it comes to deciding whom a person should help, heuristic thinking that comes from inclusive fitness says: Help those most closely related to you and who have the greatest reproductive value. When a person does not perceive another as kin the investment is decreased (Buss, 2008). This occurs both in terms of stepparents and in the case uncertain paternity.


Topic: Non-Kin Interactions

Panel Members: Antu Schamberger, Amanda Douglas, and Joel Schreiber

Non-kin altruistic actions take place between human groups when “in-group” feelings are present. Meaning we feel a strong connection with strangers as if they were apart of the same tribe like in our ancestral environments. Evolutionary perspective has always thought that altruism can only truly exist between kin members. But more recent altruistic studies have been found between non-kin humans as well as animals. Michael Alvard (2003) found that cooperative hunting does not depend on genetic kinship for cooperative relationship with each other. Although the hunting groups are more genetically related than a random group, their findings credited the kin selection theory but also showed reason to believe that there is an alternative drive to cooperative actions. So these hunter groups show less genetic ties but still are altruistic because as a group they look out for each other.
Non-kin altruistic acts can also be seen through other animal species in relation to hunting. Stevens and Gilby (2003) have shown that altruistic acts can provide immediate benefits to the sharer and increase survival tactics. Though reciprocity between non-kin animals exists there are few species that can maintain this interaction due to the lack of mental capabilities. As seen through the human and animal interactions of altruism it is obvious that there are many determinants that are not as clear to the definition of a purely altruistic act. In order for an altruistic act to occur several functions have to already exist. Some of them consist of receiving direct or indirect information on other individuals. Leaving a better than chance assurance that the other will reciprocate. Other determinants that affect altruism are direct benefits and genetics. When some of these characteristics are met cooperation will take place if the cost-to-benefit ratio is greater than the threshold value. On the flip side evolutionary research has found that these cooperative interactions can also be costly to the provider if their partner cheats them out of the benefits that should be allocated to them.

Topic: Non-Kin Groups
Panel Members: Viris Colmenero, Isaiah Magpali-Isaac, and Tatianna Smith
Much research has been made on the way organisms behave when it comes to their kin, but it is also important to understand behaviors that directed toward non-kin. One example of this kind of behavior is altruism, which is an act that increases the fitness of another individual at the cost to the actor (individuals not related). The question has been asked as to why we do not just murder everyone else, those who are not our kin. The reason for this is that other defend themselves, but on top of this, we spare those non-kin who are willing to reciprocate with us. This theory was proposed by Trivers (1971), “You scratch my back…” This is based on the idea that if you help someone, they will return the favor in the future or whenever it is needed. The example that is seen in nature is with the vampire bats, where one individual will share food with another (whether or not they are related) if the other has shared food with that individual in the past. The bats would remember if another individual did not share their food, so as not to share with them in the future.
There are ways in which reciprocity and altruism has been tested in real-life scenarios as well as with game theory, where individuals interact with one another and choose actions that offer the highest payoff. An example of this is the Prisoner’s Dilemma, where the two players can choose to either ‘cooperate’ or ‘defect’. A specific strategy that was shown to be the most effective is the “Tit for Tat” strategy where you never defect first, you retaliate only after the other player defects and you must be ‘forgiving’. The term called “strong reciprocity” is when you help or are nice to someone even when on one will know about it. This kind of reciprocity among people we do not know has evolved because humans still act as though we are living in small tribes, just as our ancestors did. We act as if these people are part of our ‘tribes’. So altruism towards non-kin has evolved and came from our ancestors and the lifestyle they led.

Topic: Reciprocal Altruism

Panel Members: Lara Heisser, Jennifer Lambert, and Nisha Patel (Spring, 2010)

Reciprocal altruism is an important aspect of non-kin interaction. Furthermore, it is a social contract in biological terms where society is an arrangement negotiated by rational self interested individuals. Social organization emerges when people sacrifice some of their autonomy in exchange for security and the long term benefits outweigh individual immediate costs (Pinker; 2002 ). Researchers Brown and Moore (2000) suggest reciprocal altruism is likely to evolve when withholding reciprocity is detected. Reciprocal altruists believe that there is a social contract when interactions are made among non-kin members thus the phrase “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”


Topic: Culture and Art
Panel Members: Yvette Arañas & Mercedes Pineda

Replication plays such an important role in evolution. It is already evident that replication occurs through genes. However, Dawkins also introduces another replicator that plays an important role in evolution—the meme (2006). Memes are important for passing on cultural traditions and other aspects of human civilizations that cannot be replicated through genetic means. Although memes are not passed through sperm and egg like genes are, they are still under the influence of natural selection. Memes get transferred from one brain to another. In addition, different memes exist within cultures including fashion statements, slang words, and religion. How long they survive and how successfully they spread within a meme pool depends on its survival value—how psychologically appealing they are to a group of individuals.

An example of a meme that has had a high survival value is art. Pinker (2002) explains that art has had such a great effect on human civilization because art probably produced the same pleasure that we get from things that promoted fitness in our ancestors (such as tasting good food and sex). What we perceive as beautiful or attractive might be related to what was considered ideal in the EEA. Pinker also criticizes the modernist and postmodernist movements for attempting to contradict art’s depictions of beauty. He explains that the purpose of art is to give humans what they like to see.

Pinker, S. (2002) The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York:

Dawkins, R. The Selfish Gene. (2006). The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.

Additional Contribution to


Topic: Culture and Art

By: Unique Cramer, Fall 2009

Another example of a meme is the idea of God. Although the origins of the idea of God in human mind- in the meme pool, it is assumed by Dawkins that the meme was replicated by means of "spoken and written words, aided by great music and great art" (Dawkins, 2006). The survival value of the idea of God has reproduced and copied itself into the world in such a way that it is highly valued in the ‘meme pool.’ Dawkins believes that the idea of God has such a high survival rate because of its great psychological appeal to answer numerous deep and puzzling questions such as: where did humans come from and what is my purpose in life? However, this does mean that the idea of God is just as valuable in the gene pool. The idea of God has no immediate positive influence on the reproduction of genes, thus is not held at the same value as in the meme pool.

Dawkins, R. The Selfish Gene. (2006). The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.


Topic: Evolutionary Psychology and Ethics
Panel Members: Suzanne Banda, Ryan Heflin, Devon Kelts, Seth
In regards to ethics, evolutionary psychology holds that proper moral discourse is likely a consequence of natural selection. Behaviors like instinctive sympathy and the moral sentiments are evolved behavioral dispositions that help the survival of the individual and the group to which the individual belongs.(Walter, 2006) These evolved psychological constructs were likely by-products of the EEA. This has been validated by research in the areas of altruism and game theory ie prisoner’s dilemma.

Therefore,ethics must be defined within the realm of "natural facts". With that being said, an evolutionary science of ethics will allow one to make the following assertions: 1). Allow one to investigate how one constructs ethical systems or acquires ethical concepts. 2). One could derive new ethical principals from newly discovered facts in combination with accepted principles 3). Evolutionary Psychology could provide an explanation for the basis of ethics ie creating a meta-ethics. 4). One could justify new or different ethical norms.(Kitcher,1994) Ultimately, discoveries in evolutionary psychology will likely lead to the creation of an ethics validated by the rigor of science.


Topic: Evolutionary Psychological Perspectives on Music
Panel Members: Julia Fehrenbach and Devon Kelts
Music despite being wide-spread and highly popular serves no adaptive function. Consequently, the roots of music have proved it self to be quite riddling to evolutionary psychologists. Several theories have been posited to address this conundrum. One is from the Darwinian perspective where Music serves as a sexual selection mechanism. Due to the cognitive faculties required in its creation, it is a representational advertisement of the value of one’s genes. Unfortunately, recent evidence has found this theory to faulty in explaining other phenomena associated with music. For example, the sexual selection theory does not account for times when mating signals would impose high fitness costs on an individual as in during war-time. Another example is that often times, heterosexual individuals are attracted to music groups of the same sex. It also doesn’t explain its prevalence in ritualized and ordinary activities.

The other and more current theory is that music serves as a means for social cohesion. (Rodeher, 1984) Evolutionary Psychologists have investigated whether or not music has any relevance in social cohesion by looking at it as a measure of social coalition. Music has credibly in this regard because it is often performed in groups and the group must spend time together to rehearse, practice, and create that music. Consequently, individuals spend much time together. An experiment involving the quality of instrument synchronicity by Hagen and Bryant (2003) found that individuals positively correlated synchronicity with a group’s perceived coalitional cohesiveness. Ultimately this points to the idea that music is important in creating group cohesion and necessitates further research.

TOPIC: Toward an Evolutionary Ethics
Panel Members: Coco Gutilla, Sylvia Joo, Joe Svec, Natalie Zepeda

With the increasing conflicts in today’s society about moral issues, it is becoming necessary to establish a basis for making morally sound decisions. Identifying and understanding the nature of underlying moral principles may make it possible to derive a system of ethics consistent with this foundation. A study by Petrinovich, O’Neill, and Jorgensen (1993) found that participants were more likely to save a member of their own species and their kin/in-group member over another person or animal if forced to choose in a fantasy life-or-death dilemma. This suggested an underlying evolutionary motivation consisting of Species and Inclusive Fitness in considering whom to preserve. Furthermore, the fact that ethnicity and religious beliefs did not have a significant effect on the results indicated there was a deeper, universal intuition that dictated the decisions. With further research, it may become that much more possible to understand the nature of human moral intuitions, and eventually build an evolutionary ethics.
Petrinovich, L., O’Neill, P., & Jorgensen, M. (1993). An Empirical Study of Moral Intuitions: Toward an Evolutionary Ethics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 467-478.