Evolutionary Psychology


The evolutionary psychology can address dynamically and creatively existence and life in general. This discipline develops the idea that the person is not a finite and limited being but that he is in constant evolution . This is how evolutionary psychology draws the attention of those who are in the search to improve as human beings in terms of their qualities, their constructive skills, their potential, their creativity and their aspirations.


What is evolutionary psychology?

Evolutionary psychology is a current of cognitive psychology according to which it is possible to explain human thought through the theory of biological evolution . This discipline is responsible for explaining the thinking and behavior of human beings and studying the different stages of their growth and development.


In the first instance, behaviors and states related to disabilities, weaknesses, illusions and beliefs are taken into account to lead the person to transcend the limitations and deficiencies that this has unconsciously imposed or that have been induced after experiences. of binding lives. In the second instance, evolutionary psychology leads to discovering, cultivating and developing the creative and spiritual potential that is found within the individual.


What Evolutionary Psychology Studies

Evolutionary psychology seeks to identify which psychological traits are adaptations originating from evolution , that is, functional products of natural selection.

This discipline scientifically studies the changes in the psychological functioning (cognitive, affective and social functions) of the human being throughout his life . Furthermore, evolutionary psychology is concerned with all stages of human life, from conception to old age.

Origin and history

Evolutionary psychology was born as a discipline in the 19th century thanks to the work of Charles Darwin and Wilhelm Preyer . However, it should be noted that already in the 15th century, John Lock affirmed that the minds of children were an empty container and that they came into the world without psychological and spiritual material . Later, Jean Jacques Rousseau , did not agree with Locke and proposed a new representation of childhood. The philosopher believed that children were born with an innate ability to distinguish between good and bad .

It should also be noted that research on special subjects such as Victor de Aveyron , a wild child, also allowed us to delve into evolutionary psychology as a science.


  • Identify and describe the processes of change in behavior in the individual.
  • Identify the causes and factors around these processes of change in behavior.
  • Propose alternatives to optimize development processes in the individual.


According to Erikson’s approaches, there are 8 stages of evolutionary psychology.

  • Incorporative stage. (0 to 1 year) At this stage, the care that the mother and family provide to the child are essential for the child to develop a confidence that will allow him to approach life from this perspective .
  • Early childhood stage. (1 to 3 years). In this stage, the child develops his sense of autonomy and will thanks to his ability to control sphincters, to move with greater skill and to vocalize.
  • Locomotive stage. (3 to 6 years). The child is more aware of his external environment. Likewise, the child needs to identify and protect his role in the world. Furthermore, initiative is a distinctive feature of this stage. When not receiving privileged treatment, the child can develop a sense of guilt and anxiety.
  • Latency stage (6 to 12 years). The child begins to gain recognition for what he does in the school context, for which he may feel comfortable or dissatisfied. The problem at this stage can arise if there is insufficient recognition as this can lead to a feeling of inferiority. The child is willing to acquire new knowledge and skills and to be productive.
  • Adolescence stage (12 to 20 years). This period is characterized by questioning the knowledge, skills and experiences acquired. This is due to the biological changes that the body undergoes and the personality crisis that this generates. Adolescents worry about the image that others have of them and constantly fight between who they have been for the moment and what they are going to do in the near future. There are confusions regarding one’s own identity. Adolescents are idealistic and easily influenced. If they go through this stage correctly, they will be able to build a solid identity. Otherwise, they will always try to become someone they are not.
  • Young adult stage. It includes the period between 20 and 40 years. Once the individual has acquired his identity, he is ready to tackle the next stage, in which he will consolidate more authentic relationships with other people.
  • Middle or mature adult stage. It includes the period from 40 to 60 years. The fundamental thing in this period is the care of the younger generations since, in general , during this stage the role of father, grandfather, teacher, guide, among others, has already been assumed.
  • Late adult stage. This stage begins from the age of 70 onwards and represents the end of the life cycle. The experience acquired in the other stages, gives the individual a wisdom that allows him to transcend life. Otherwise, the individual fears death and feels that he has not carried out his life in the way he wanted.


  • He perceives human nature as the result of a series of psychological adaptations that have evolved into frequent problems in the ancestral context.
  • It is associated with the organizational theory of biology or in other words, evolutionary theory. In this case, it would be the evolutionary theory of mind.
  • It focuses on the identification and analysis of the cognitive and emotional adaptations that have evolved and that constitute a representation of the psychological nature of the human being.
  • It focuses on the study of mental processes.
  • Behavior is studied through the analysis of internal psychological mechanisms as a result of natural selection that allowed our ancestors to adapt and survive.

Study methods of evolutionary psychology

The study methods of evolutionary psychology are mainly related to age.

Longitudinal method

The individuals who are part of the study, mainly children, are followed through the entire experiment , for example, every 15 days. The disadvantage of this method is that it is impossible to observe many children and it is not always possible to obtain a representative sample of the population.

Transversal method

Individuals of different ages are studied and the ages of interest are defined. So generally , children are observed once . This provides an average of competencies. However, this does not characterize the development so it is not really representative .

Novelty Reaction Method

A stimulus A is presented to familiarize a child with an object, then a second stimulus B is introduced and the observation time is recorded . If there is a perception, there is a discrimination . It has thus been shown that a baby only perceives the edge of a pattern, thus does not recognize faces or differentiate internal elements.

Some Associated Theories of Evolutionary Psychology

Gestalt Psychology

It is one of the first scientific currents that emerged in psychology. His approach to the study of perception has been revolutionary in this field. According to Gestalt, development is based on structures of biological origin that we gradually learn to use as we grow . In that sense, development would rather consist of a progressive discovery of the brain’s capabilities. Current research shows that this approach is not true and that there is actually an evolution in cognitive processes.

Cognitive psychology

This current is in charge of studying the internal processes that can intervene between a certain stimulus and a certain behavior . It is there that the computational and connectionist perspectives of the human brain emerge. According to cognitive psychology , the individual produces information that builds internal representations of the reality of the world.

Sociocultural theory

This theory was proposed by Lev Vygotsky, a constructivist psychologist, who believed that children acquired their knowledge actively and through practical activities . For Vygotsky, he speaks of the importance of the zone of proximal development according to which social interactions with others were fundamental for the construction of learning. The psychologist raised the fact of working during the learning process with other peers with greater expertise. In summary, according to this theory, the environment is not an external factor in the learning process but rather is part of it , which is why it is fundamental in the cognitive development of children.


Since its inception with the postulates of Alfred Binet, evolutionary psychology has been recognized for its social utility in the fields of education, health and socialization . From this trend, development areas are worked on in order to promote positive reactions. It is not a question of imposing but rather of seeking ways of making the individual react.


Stanley Hall

He is the first child psychologist and thus creates the first child psychology laboratory in 1883. Hall establishes a terminology called pedology and proposes his own methodology for the study of child development through observation .

Alfred Binet

Author of numerous investigations in the field of intelligence and memory, this psychologist is known for his essential contribution to psychometrics and his innovative approach to intelligence and its development possibilities .

Jean piaget

It is one of the great references in terms of theories about human development. He is considered as one of the fathers of constructivism . The author starts from the idea that the child builds his world based on the problems he will encounter. His theory of development focuses on the formation of knowledge . Through his constructivist perspective, Piaget developed a theory that divided development into a series of stages .

Lev vygotsky

Like Piaget, Vygotsky viewed development from a constructivist perspective. However, both scholars focused on different aspects of development. While Piaget focused on the way the individual interacted with his environment, Vygotsky focused on the cultural and social effects that influence development . For the psychologist, development is inseparable from the social environment since culture and society are the vehicles that transmit the forms of behavior and the organization of knowledge.

Examples from evolutionary psychology

  • Evolutionary psychologists consider that the purpose of perception is to guide action. An example to illustrate this would be to consider depth perception as a mechanism that has evolved to allow us to move in space.
  • The evolution of social emotions has allowed the development of social and adaptive behaviors. This is, for example, the case of resentment which, although it may seem to go against the individual, could make him see himself as someone to be feared. In the same way, shame can be a motivation that helps to relate better in a community as the case may be.
  • It is said that sleep could have evolved over time and that in our days it is a nocturnal activity since at night there is less productivity and less danger.

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