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 More about Glenn.


About Amy Alkon

Amy Alkon is the irreverent purveyor of “science news you can use.” Her most recent book is the science-based and bitingly funny "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014). Her award-winning, science-based syndicated column runs in about 100 newspapers. She is the 2015 president of the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society and hosts her own weekly radio show, “ Nerd Your Way to a Better Life,” featuring the luminaries of behavioral science.

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