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evolutionary psychology

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    Why We Love to Be Grossed Out

    Disgust may not be a straightforward extension of the immune system’s aversion to harmful substances, but rather “a psychological nebula, lacking definite boundaries, discrete internal structure, or a single center of gravity,” says psychologist Nina Strohminger.Photograph by Star Stock / Flickr Nina Strohminger, perhaps not unlike many fans of raunchy comedies and horror flicks, is […]

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    Game of Thrones and the Evolutionary Significance of Storytelling

    I told myself it was absurd to be discontented with the way Game of Thrones ended. Why should I feel anything for the fate of a fictional world? Even so, I watched with interest, on YouTube, videos of how several of the episodes—particularly “The Long Night,” “The Bells,” and “The Iron Throne”—could have been re-written […]

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    The Problem with the Way Scientists Study Reason

    Psychologists studying reasoning extensively rely on logic and philosophy, and neglect psychology’s more natural ally: biology. Portrait of Luca Pacioli (1445–1517) with a student (Guidobaldo da Montefeltro?) / Attributed to Jacopo de’ Barbari / Wikicommons In March, I was in Paris for the International Convention of Psychological Science, one of the most prestigious gatherings in […]

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    Why Social Science Needs Evolutionary Theory

    My high school biology teacher, Mr. Whittington, put a framed picture of a primate ancestor in the front of his classroom—a place of reverence. In a deeply religious and conservative community in rural America, this was a radical act. Evolution, among the most well-supported scientific theories in human history, was then, and still is, deliberately […]

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    Why Social Science Needs Evolutionary Theory

    The lack of willingness to view human cognition and behavior as within the purview of evolutionary processes has prevented evolution from being fully integrated into the social science curriculum.Photograph by David Carillet / Shutterstock My high school biology teacher, Mr. Whittington, put a framed picture of a primate ancestor in the front of his classroom—a […]

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    The Simple Logical Puzzle That Shows How Illogical People Are

    In the 1960s, the English psychologist Peter Wason devised an experiment that would revolutionize his field. This clever puzzle, known as the “Wason selection task,” is often claimedto be “the single most investigated experimental paradigm in the psychology of reasoning,” in the words of one textbook author. Wason was a funny and clever man and […]

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    Was the Golden Rule Born in the Mind of a Monkey?

    As economic inequality increased in many wealthy nations in recent years, a debate has developed around the question of whether inequality is bad for national economies—and bad for their citizens. A captivating video clip of monkey behavior (see below), taken from a 2011 TED talk by primatologist Frans de Waal, has become a surprising piece of […]

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    Misdeeds & Disease: How Similar Are Disgust & Moral Disgust?

    Feliciano Guimaraes via Flickr The news earlier this fall that chemical weapons had been used in Syria’s civil was seen as a new low in that conflict. Many people condemned their use as “disgusting”; President Obama, making the case for a military response, said the images from the attack were “sickening.” Moral outrage sometimes demands […]