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The last decade has witnessed an exciting change in our understanding of the way in which the mind operates the reasons behind a myriad of human behaviours. The traditional idea that nurture trumps nature in explanations of human behaviour has been supplanted by Evolutionary Psychologists, who argue that human beings share evolved mental architectures that govern their behaviour. Indeed, Evolutionary Psychological explanations have been postulated for all manner of human behaviour, from mate choice preferences to jealousy, cheater detection to suicide bombing. Yet, not all research groups are in agreement with this perspective: some authors have challenged the Evolutionary Psychological focus on biological or genetic explanations of behaviour, while others suggest that the Evolutionary Psychological paradigm is methodologically flawed. To be sure, it is now possible to find critiques of Evolutionary Psychology from different viewpoints, and a common theme shared by such critiques is that an evolutionary approach to psychology is welcome but not sufficient. This volume, which will serve as an introduction to evolutionary approaches to psychology, will bring together seminal work in the field and explore the ways in which evolutionary psychological research can illuminate our understanding of human behaviours and nature. Together, the chapters in this volume will present a fresh perspective on evolutionary approaches to psychology, critically evaluating the extant literature while maintaining the need for evolutionary psychologies.
Most introductions to evolutionary approaches to psychology tend to take an uncritical stand, stemming from what has been dubbed ‘Evolutionary Psychological’ viewpoints. The current volume begins from the same vantage point – that an evolutionary psychology is required – but nevertheless critically examines the extant literature from different evolutionary perspectives (e.g., developmental systems sciences, evolutionary biology, evolutionary developmental psychology, cultural studies, etc). The list of potential authors (see attached document) has been compiled to reflect this critical approach.
Viren Swami trained as an evolutionary psychologist, and for his doctorate examined the roles that body shape and weight play in judgements of physical attractiveness across cultures. Viren’s current research in the area focuses on the influence of evolution, culture, and individual psychology on perceptions of human beauty, and his work has been widely discussed in national and international media. Viren is also currently conducting research in other fields of interpersonal attraction, including identifying predictors of positive body image, the effect of romantic love on partner perceptions, weight-based discrimination, and the history of beauty in art and sculpture. Other current projects include research on sociocultural adjustment among sojourners, and cross-cultural differences in lay beliefs about various topics, including intelligence, conspiracy theories, mental illness, and extraterrestrial life.