Confession: Some of us never took evolutionary psychology (a discipline whose subject died a very long time ago but allegedly lives on in all of us) seriously enough to wonder if it could actually create controversies in psychology. Apparently so:
In terms of the political bias among social psychologists, Buss and von Hippel found that 95 per cent were mostly liberal and left-wing in their views (also, among the US respondents, only 4 had voted Republican in the prior Presidential election while 305 had voted Democrat).
Quizzing the social psychologists on their views of evolutionary theory, Buss and von Hippel found that they overwhelmingly accepted the principles of Darwinian evolution and also that it applied to humans, but when it came to whether evolutionary theory applies to human psychology and behaviour, the sample was split, with many social psychologists rejecting this notion.
Digging deeper into the survey results, there was no evidence that the social psychologists were averse to evolutionary psychology for religious reasons, but many did reject the idea that humans might be inherently violent (in certain situations) or that some people are widely considered more physically attractive than others due to universal evolved standards of attractiveness – perhaps, Buss and von Hippel suggested, this is because “they dislike the implications regarding the dark side of human nature.”Christian Jarrett, “Many social psychologists are impeded by their ideological aversion to evolutionary psychology” at British Psychological Society Research Digest
While Jarrett’s article doesn’t spell it out, the social psychologists don’t like evolutionary psychology because it is not rigidly progressive. It wasn’t likely to be so because it is a direct descendant of sociobiology, which is, in turn, a direct descendant of Social Darwinism.
Oh well. We’re surprised that the psychologists have time for this conflict, given all the Sokal hoaxes currently perpetrated on them. There was even an evo psych hoax called Gentlemen Prefer Blondes but you can read about it at the link.
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See also: The failed search for an evolutionary morality
Evolutionary psychology explains why men pay on the first date.
Richard Weikart on the anti-Semitic burst in evolutionary psychology
“The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”