Category Archives: Evolutionary Psychology Conferences

Evolutionary Psychiatry Group Started

It’s the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group (EPSIG) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK.

They list their objectives:

  1. Raise awareness of the value of understanding the contribution of evolutionary theory to psychiatry.

  2. Encourage research into the evolutionary psychiatry.

  3. Provide a forum for psychiatrists and others to discuss evolutionary models, research ideas and data with fellow evolutionists.

  4. Facilitate networking with academic institutions and evolutionary scientists, biologists, psychotherapists, psychologists and other disciplines such as philosophy.

  5. Keep members and supporters of the SIG informed via a webpage and newsletter.

  6. Organise workshops, symposia and conferences on Evolutionary Psychiatry and related subjects.

  7. Organise sessions at the WPA and the RCPsych’s International Congress as well as with other college Faculties and Divisions.

Via psychiatrist and researcher @RandyNesse, whose own work applying evolutionary theory to psychiatry and medicine can be seen here.

Upcoming Evolutionary Psychology Conferences

HBES, June 29th to July 3rd, 2016, Vancouver, Canada: The 28th annual HBES conference will be held June 29th to July 3rd, 2016 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, Canada. (HBES is the biggie of ev psych conferences, with the most international attendees.)

NEEPS, June 2-5, 2016, in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada): The NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society will hold its 10th annual conference, beginning 6/2/16, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Our AEPS meetings and sessions will also be held there.)

SEEPS, Feb 12, 2006, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The SouthEastern Evolutionary Perspectives Society (SEEPS) will hold its inaugural meeting February 12th, 2016 (Darwin Day) through the 14th at the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa, AL. (SEEPS is the newest ev psych organization.)

ISHE, August 1-5, 2016, University of Stirling, Scotland: The 23rd Biennial Congress on Human Ethology will be held at the University of Stirling, in Scotland, from the 1st – 5th of August 2016. What is ethology? More from ISHE’s website.

SPSP (with Evolutionary pre-conference, Jan 28), Jan 28-30, San Diego, California: The annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference will be held in will be held in San Diego, Jan 28-30, 2016.

EHBEA, April 5-8, 2016, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: The annual European Human Behavior and Evolution Association’s annual conference will take place in London, April 5-8, 2016.

Three Things We Now Know About Being Human, Thanks To Ev Psych

Evolutionary psychologist Glenn Geher posts at Psychology Today on three big findings about humans that wouldn’t have been possible without the “mountain of research” done by evolutionary psychologists.

Here are two of the three findings:

1. Men are more than twice as likely to experience early mortality (death) during young adulthood compared with women (Kruger & Nesse, 2006).

Men are more likely to die than are women at any and all phases of the life cycle. Applying an evolutionary lens, Kruger and Nesse (2006) hypothesized that this phenomenon should be exacerbated during young adulthood when males are more likely to be courting mates and, as a result, engaging in male/male (intrasexual) competition. And that’s exactly what they found.

 

2. Step-parents are, by a large order of magnitude, more likely to engage in filicide (killing of offspring) compared with genetic/biological parents (see Daly & Wilson, 2005).

Filicide is universally seen as horrific. So it would benefit humanity writ large to understand its antecedents. Applying evolutionary-based reasoning, Daly and Wilson (2005) reasoned that as step-parents do not share the same genetic investment with offspring as biological parents do, then step-parents might be more likely to engage in filicide. And this is, by a large order of magnitude, exactly what they found.

For the third, check out Glenn Geher’s blog post on PsychologyToday.com. More about Glenn.

“Yes, But…”: Answers To Ten Common Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology

Excellent myth-busting post by evolutionary psychologist David Schmitt. It came out of an invited talk he gave on evolution and human reproductive strategies to an audience of mostly sociologists and family studies professors. Schmitt writes at Evolution-Institute.org:

I mentioned that some social scientists hold false beliefs about “evolutionary psychology,” such as the mistaken assumption that evolutionary psychologists think all men are interested in bedding as many women as possible (often called short-term mating), whereas all women are only interested in marrying a single man and staying faithful to him for a lifetime (i.e., long-term mating).

 

When I tried to dispel this common misperception by noting, for instance, that evolutionary psychologists have hypothesized women are just as designed for short-term mating as men are—in some ways even more so such as women’s heightened desires for cues to genetic quality in short-term mates—an audible gasp swept through the conference hall. I kid you not, I could see rows of people who looked genuinely horrified.

 

I was a little taken aback, so I asked an audience member near the front row who had her hand over her mouth if something was unclear, to which she proclaimed, “that’s not the evolutionary psychology I know.”

 

When I tried to explain that women’s evolved short-term mating desires have been studied by evolutionary psychologists since the early 1990s and the topic remains a very active area of inquiry today, heads swiveled in disbelief.

 

…It seems to me many critics of evolutionary psychology cling steadfastly to false stereotypes of the field, both theoretical and empirical.

 

…Beyond simply not knowing about the empirical breadth and methodological richness of modern evolutionary science, many critics exhibit a certain kind of “empirical nihilism” toward any psychological findings even remotely portrayed as supporting evolutionary hypotheses.

 

For instance, when one points to a set of studies that respond to a specific criticism, some critics reply with a “yes, but” attitude and set forth new criticisms requiring more evidence (sort of a serial “moving the goalposts” maneuver). Now, in science extreme skepticism is generally a good thing. For scientists, there are no capital “T” Truths, and every claim about reality is tentatively true with a small “t” and is always adjustable as more evidence is accumulated over time.

 

Sometimes, though, this attitude is more than healthy skepticism about a particular empirical finding and is, instead, clearly an attitude of irrefutable empirical nihilism toward evolutionary psychology studies in particular.

 

As an example of this type of unshakeable attitude of disbelief, I list below 10 of the more common “yes, but” criticisms of evolutionary findings on women’s long-term mate preferences.

Here’s one of those 10 — starting with the “Yes, but…” criticism of ev psych:

5) Yes, but…this [women’s long-term mate preferences for cues to a man’s ability and willingness to devote resources] is only because women are denied access to resources themselves. If women have higher status themselves, they would not prefer men with high status. It’s just basic rationality, not evolved psychology, causing these sex differences in mate preferences for status.

 

Actually, it is a compelling test of women’s long-term mate preferences for men’s status-related traits (including their ability and willingness to provide resources) to evaluate whether their expressed preferences disappear when women have ample resources of their own. It could be women only prefer cues to men’s ability and willingness to provide resources because women are structurally denied access to resources[39].

 

Addressing this alternative explanation, Townsend and his colleagues have found women in medical school[40] and law school[41] are more selective of a future mate’s financial status, not less. Similarly, Wiederman and Allgeier[42] found college women’s expected income was positively associated with their ratings of the importance of a potential long-term mate’s earning capacity.

 

Regan[43] found as women’s mate value goes up, so does their insistence on men’s high status and resources (i.e., they “want it all”; see also[44]). Having higher personal status and resource-related traits appears not to attenuate women’s preferences for cues to men’s ability and willingness to provide resources. Instead, at least in the USA, women achieving high status themselves appears to make their long-term mate preferences for men’s high status even more intense!

For the rest of the 10, go to the link.