chapter  3
13 Pages

Evolutionary Psychology, Crime and Status

The human genome is the DNA library of the accumulated wisdom of millions of years of natural selection. Genes that sit on the shelves of that library are there because they provided advantages to our ancestors in the pursuit of the shared goals of all life forms: survival and reproduction. Evolutionary psychology is an approach that utilizes the synthesis of natural selection and population genetics to test hypotheses regarding the functional advantages conferred by those traits. It is interested in distal “why” questions rather than proximate “how” questions. In terms of our interests, evolutionary psychologists are interested in why social status is so important, why seeking it may lead to criminal activity in some circumstances, and how status seeking and criminal behavior are functionally related to evolutionary goals. Evolutionary psychology is even more environmentally friendly than behavior genetics because it looks for environmental causes of behavioral variation and focuses on human similarities rather than differences. Evolutionary psychologists do not deny human genetic differences distributed around adaptive means; they simply focus on central tendency rather than variation.