How do evolutionary psychologists view human nature and behavior?

Psychological Adaptations

How do evolutionary psychologists view human nature and behavior?

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

Evolution is an easily misunderstood concept further obfuscated by political-religious views that often attack evolution's validity. One of the reasons for this misconception stems from the misconception that evolution progresses from worse to better or simple to complex rather than a result of environmental pressures across time. As such, once should not view evolutionary psychology as a movement from less intelligent to more intelligent but as a response from social environmental forces.

Evolutionary Psychology views human behavior as a result of instinct and social evolution (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Evolutionary psychologists, as a result, view human nature and behavior as a product of a universal set of evolved psychological adaptations to problems in the ancestral environment. In addition, the brains adaptive mechanisms were shaped by natural and sexual selection similar to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Psychological adaptations are hypothesized to be innate or relatively easy to learn and to manifest in cultures worldwide. For example, evolutionary psychologists view a child’s ability to learn a language with almost no training as likely to be an evolutionary psychological adaptation, whereas the ability to learn to read and write, requiring extensive training is a by-product of cognitive processing using different psychological adaptations with no current function.

In addition, a psychological adaptation may be facultative, or sensitive to typical environment variations, in which case evolutionary psychologists focus on how developmental and environmental inputs influence the expression of the adaptation. For example, adult attachment style is facultative and seems to be influenced by early childhood experiences. Evolutionary psychologists, like cognitive psychologists, take into consideration how the brain and nervous system affect human behavior, particularly how they have evolved into its complex present state.


Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


Vincent Triola. Fri, Apr 02, 2021. How do evolutionary psychologists view human nature and behavior? Retrieved from

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