Research topics at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology

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Scientists at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology specialize in finding new ways that an evolutionary perspective can inform research on the design of the human mind.  In so doing, we have been researching many new topics, as well as trying out new approaches to old topics.  Below we provide a partial list with links to some relevant research papers. 

For an introduction to the field of evolutionary psychology, see The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby, eds.  1992 Oxford University Press).  The first two chapters--"The psychological foundations of culture"--(Tooby & Cosmides) and "On the use and misuse of Darwinism in the study of human behavior" (Symons) -- provide an introduction to theoretical issues underpinning the field.

Principles of evolutionary psychology

Social exchange (reciprocation, reciprocal altruism, cooperation, generosity)

Coalitional psychology (us versus them; collective action; perceptions of race; multi-individual cooperation)

Evolutionary Biology: Intragenomic Conflict, Pathogens & the Evolution of Sexual Recombination; Banker's Paradox (etc)

Emotion (emotions as super-ordinate programs solving the problem of mechanism coordination in a multimodular mind)

Judgment under uncertainty (intuitive statistics; optimal foraging; ecological rationality; heuristics & biases)

Attention (domain-specificity; specializations for monitoring animals)

Kin detection (as regulator of incest avoidance; altruism)

Memory (memory systems; specializations; personality trait database; self-knowledge)

Friendship and Deep Engagement Relationships


Predator-prey reasoning

Tools and Artifacts: What cognitive mechanisms underlie our ability to understand artifact function and tool-use?

Darwinian medicine, Darwinian psychiatry

Vision and Visual Attention


Art, Fiction, and Aesthetics

The Brain

Economics, Business, and Organizational Behavior

Spatial cognition

Courtship, Mate Choice, and Human Sexuality

Hazard Management (precautionary reasoning)


Intelligence (improvisational intelligence; dedicated intelligence; decoupled reasoning (counterfactual reasoning, suppositional reasoning, metarepresentation)

Theoretical foundations of psychology and the behavioral sciences

Environments of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA; Why the past explains the present)

Evolutionary psychology and Philosophy