Assess The Impact Of Evolutionary Thought On Psychology Essay

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Assess the impact of evolutionary thought on psychology. Illustrate your answer with examples of relevant research.
The notion of evolution, as described by both Lamarck and Darwin in the 1800’s, had such an impact on intellectual life that it has changed the way we study the human mind today. Darwin’s (1859) theory is still widely accepted as what we know as the theory of natural selection, and provides a structure for examining human behaviour. He saw the future of psychology as “based on a new foundation”, and evolutionary psychology is now still emerging and developing. Darwinian evolution means we can ask how each aspect of human nature is adaptive as it allows many approaches to be covered by one theory, and provides a “theoretical framework” about the mind (Dunbar, Barrett, & Lycett, 2007).

In the late 1890’s Herbert Spencer was the first philosopher to apply evolutionary thought to psychology. He explained that “the mind can be understood only by observing how the mind is evolved” and viewed
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As Darwin (1859) compared ourselves to primates to show the expression of emotions, psychologists can study animal’s minds to reveal how comparable their psychology is to ours. We can learn how social interaction develops by looking at sexual desire, sexual orientation, and mate choice in animals similar to ourselves but not as socially developed. We can now better understand decision-making, why societies exist, and why people have religious beliefs. Clayton (2009) has shown that birds are efficient at forward planning, learning and using tools, which were previously thought to be traits only in primates. She concludes that cognition has evolved more than once in different groups of animals. Overall, all of the ways in which we understand our behaviour and ourselves have been affected by Darwin’s impact (Montgomery,

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