Major Movements in Psychology

Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

How does evolution affect behavior?

We generally assume that animal behavior is adaptive, that it has evolved because it confers fitness on the organism whose genetic make-up produces the behavior. For example, we assume that the mating dance of pigeons—in which they strut back and forth, jut their necks in and out and emit loud cooing noises—is adaptive. It increases male pigeons’ access to females and thus to reproductive success. This display behavior may make the male look bigger and stronger than he actually is. Females are more likely to select such males as mates because selection of large and strong males may confer an evolutionary advantage for the females’ offspring. Male displays of strength and size are very frequent strategies for access to females, evident in an extremely wide array of species, including our own. If we consider human males’ predilection for muscle cars and bodybuilding, we can see how the principles of sociobiology might indeed be relevant to the behavior of humans.


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