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Evolutionary Psychology and the Modular Mind James A. Van Slyke.

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Presentation on theme: "Evolutionary Psychology and the Modular Mind James A. Van Slyke."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evolutionary Psychology and the Modular Mind James A. Van Slyke

2 Evolutionary Psychology (EP) Various physical adaptations evolved to serve some function – Heart = pump blood – Eyes = vision – Sexual Organs = reproduction EP argues that some adaptations are cognitive programs that solved adaptive problems

3 John Tooby & Leda Cosmides UCSB Both Psychologists Started the EP movement in the early 1990’s The Adopted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (1992)

4 Steven Pinker Harvard University The Language Instinct (1994) – Language comes from an innate cognitive module that contains general rules for grammar The Blank Slate (2002) – Mind is composed of several innate cognitive capacities

5 Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) Human cognition primarily evolved during the Pleistocene era (2.5 mil to 12,000 years ago) Adaptive problems faced during this hunter- gatherer age are the primary factors involved in the evolution of human cognition – Reproduction – Survival & Hunting – Living in Groups

6 Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) Social Science assumes that the human mind is a “blank slate” Culture specifies important values – Gender Roles; Morals; Religion, etc. Most things are learned Human mind is like a sponge

7 Swiss Army Knife Cognition Rather than a sponge, cognition functions through different adaptive tools or modules – Cognitive programs that solved different adaptive problems – Environmental stimuli triggers different tools Mate selection Group coordination (Hunting) Cheater detection

8 Modular Mind Human Cognition is composed of different “modules” or “tools” – Domain specific cognitive programs – Work below the level of conscious awareness – Automatically activated in the right context – Human mind is composed of thousands if not millions

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