This course provides an introduction to the application of evolutionary theory to psychology. You will learn how this approach has been used to understand topics such as social behaviour, mate choice, family dynamics, language, culture and mental health.
The development of evolutionary psychology was foreseen by Darwin in 1859 when he wrote: “In the distant future … Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.”
The course begins by explaining how the basic processes of selection and adaptation can act on the brain and behaviour. Some of the questions you will consider are: What are the costs and benefits driving social behaviour? What is empathy and what is it for? Are there any universal features of family life? Why do humans talk so much? When and why did humans develop culture? Can it make sense to be depressed? We will finish with an interactive discussion including some examples of news reports that invoke evolutionary psychology to explain behaviour.