chapter  11
16 Pages

Aligning Evolutionary Psychology and Social Cognition: Inbreeding Avoidance as an Example of Investigations into Categorization, Decision Rules, and Emotions: Debra Lieberman

As an evolutionary psychologist employing theoretical tools from biologyand cognitive science to study human social behavior, I often find I speaka completely different language from those trained in the field of social cognition, despite the similar goals of understanding human sociality. There are (at least) two reasons why translation between these two frameworks has been difficult. First, research in social cognition typically has not considered

important theoretical contributions from evolutionary biology (e.g., kin selection, parental investment), principles known to organize cognitive processes and behavior in nonhuman animals. For example, despite the fact that humans likely evolved in small kin-based groups and that much of our social interactions would have been with kin of varying degrees, kinship has been an area largely neglected within social cognition (Daly, Salmon, & Wilson, 1997). One area of research that has overlooked the importance of kinship is social categorization and person perception. Researchers interested in the dimensions into which we categorize social targets have focused on the big three-sex, age, and race-yet ignored kinship. Kinship, however, is an important social dimension organizing a variety of different individual and group-level behaviors. For example, tracking kin relations would have enabled inferences such as who is likely to come to the aid of another, who is not likely to be a competitor for a particular mate, or who is likely to band together and form a collective action, among other things. Indeed, recent empirical findings indicate that kinship, much like age and sex, is a dimension implicitly encoded by our psychological architecture (Lieberman, Oum, & Kurzban, 2006).