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Questions tagged [evolution]

For questions about the interaction of biological (or artificial) evolution and the cognitive agents that are influenced by it.

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Why are we the smartest species on the whole known universe?

Why? One possible reason would be because intelligent give humans, and only humans, evolutionary edge compared to their peers. Gorilla, for example, are strong because strength give Gorilla ...
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49 views

How is the human brain evolving?

I came across this article which states that brain takes about 20% of the body's energy. This is quite a lot compared to its size. Somewhere I read that even if this is a lot, this must be an absolute ...
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Could we develop a notion of conceivability that would allow us to imagine impossible/inconsistent/illogical things?

There are things that we cannot imagine because they are impossible (like a solution to Russell's set theory, since it is impossible to reach that solution because it is illogical.) Some months ago, ...
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62 views

Which mental illnesses are probably natural? [closed]

Which states of mind that are classified as mental illnesses might be a natural and useful part of our brains? For example, some evolutionary biologists have suggested that some types of depression ...
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55 views

When and how did public nudity and sex become shameful and unacceptable? [closed]

I am thinking about it from the evolutionary perspective. For nudity, I thought that maybe nude bodies may be associated with a higher probability of infection and diseases due to exposed parts. I ...
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0answers
36 views

Counterfactual thinking and the origin of language

I want to apologize in advance for my dearth of knowledge concerning cognitive science research and history, I'm an AI student. I've been reading up on cognitive science/linguistics literature mostly ...
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1answer
351 views

Is there a (evolutionary) purpose of self-pity?

I stumbled across the quote from Charlie Munger; Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self-pity are disastrous modes of thought, self-pity gets pretty close to paranoia, and paranoia ...
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4answers
404 views

Is an avoidance of incest/inbreeding learned or instinctive?

Is the natural avoidance of incest something that is learned or is the human brain programmed by instinct to have a negative response to incest? This of course would have an evolutionary advantage and ...
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96 views

Are there empirical studies that falsify propositions rooted in evolutionary psychology? [closed]

Conway III and Schaller (2002, p. 153) argue that "There is a long history of lodging charges of non-falsifiability against evolutionary thinking in the biological sciences". One of the critics they ...
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Do humans have inborn instincts to spread plant seeds? [closed]

I have been noticing for quite a while that I have this instinct to tear off and throw seeds from trees and plants. This happens quite literally without any thought and I rarely even notice the act. ...
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Evolutionary advantage of nostagia or attachment

I have come across people preserving some old articles with them, which although of little day to day use to them today, they would still like to retain. I myself would love to retain any old article ...
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1answer
230 views

Why do suicide has been kept in natural selection? [duplicate]

Since I've heard about evolution theory, I tend to think about new things with the help of this theory. While not being always accurate, I find the reasoning that makes this theory possible very ...
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1answer
269 views

Why baby animals seem “cute” to us?

I understand why babies seem cute to us from an evolutionary point of view: They need our protection and love to grow, so it's beneficial for them to look good for us, or at least their parents, since ...
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1answer
56 views

What stands behind the desire to want things now?

We've all heard the sayings that we would rather have half of a chocolate right now, than a whole chocolate in a month, because we, as wild animals, are constantly seeking for sources. But what's ...
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1answer
84 views

What do chimpanzees do with fire in the wild, and can they be trained to manipulate burning objects?

It seems that most animals run away or avoid fire at all costs. This is especially apparent during wild fires. Humans, obviously, have figured out how to use fire as a tool. Are we the only known ...
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0answers
221 views

Is “hate towards weakness/inferiority” a general and innate human characteristic?

It is obvious that human beings on many occasions consider others to be inferior, whether this relates to specific individuals, or to groups. However, it also seems to me that humans very often feel ...
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29 views

Why do humans feel compassion towards non-humans?

Why is it that humans feel compassion towards non-humans, such as animals? For me, the sight of an injured bird causes an emotional response, but I cannot explain what would cause it. From an ...
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1answer
52 views

Can forgetting labor pain be an evolutionary advantage as animals don't know how to avoid labor?

I've often heard the claim that women are forgetting, or remembering labour and birth pain as being less severe. Some people say that this mechanism has an evolutionary advantage, as if it didn't ...
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1answer
468 views

Why are children afraid of the dark?

Why are children afraid of the dark, in particular more afraid than adults? Is it an evolutionary mechanism? What causes this?
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1answer
591 views

Why did humans develop the “sense of humour”? [closed]

Speaking from the point of view of evolutionary psychology, is there any research that demonstrates why a 'sense of humor' may be a part of our mental mechanisms? Does research show that it is a way ...
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0answers
42 views

Is it conceivable that even basic human behavior is genetically determinined only to a very limited extent?

I'm wondering whether even basic human behavior (beyond what appears to be directly wired into our nervous systems, like swallowing and face-related mirror neurons) are indeed facilitated by ...
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4answers
772 views

Why do humans cry?

People cry when they experience intense emotions. Crying seems to occur most frequently in intense episodes of sadness and fear, but sometimes also happens when people are very happy or angry. What is ...
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0answers
37 views

Evolution of laughter

In one of his books (cannot recall title now) Konrad Lorentz (ethology study) describes the phenomenon of the appearance of a friendly smile as a spontaneous inversion of a warning grin. He does not ...
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4answers
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Why do humans need emotions?

If the emotions' only purpose is to stimulate certain behavior, why can't this task just as effectively, or even more effectively be done by the reasoning part of the brain? Are emotions really ...
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0answers
60 views

What are some key behaviors that stone-age humans evolved to help them survive and reproduce? [closed]

In Wikipedia's article on evolutionary psychology, two of six given key premises of EP are as follows: Different neural mechanisms are specialized for solving problems in humanity's evolutionary past....
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1answer
217 views

Why does munching sound unpleasant to most people? [closed]

When someone who eats food is munching, it sounds quite unpleasant for most of the people. What is the reason for this?
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3answers
7k views

Body Language: Why do we give each other the grumpy/frowning fake smile?

I've recently become aware of this - I kinda knew I was always doing it, but just now it got me self conscious and thinking about it: When crossing paths with a stranger, you are supposed to be ...
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4k views

Why are some people attracted to people of other races?

Is it true that we were evolved to dislike people of other races genetically? If so, why are some people attracted to people of races other than their own?
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1answer
118 views

How is epigenetic memory expressed in neurons?

Epigenetic memory is seen as the most evolutionarily plausible way of learning from experiences and gaining instinctual knowledge accross generations, as established by the answer to one of my ...
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1answer
691 views

Where does instinctual knowledge come from?

From Wikipedia: Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The example that I find is the easiest to touch upon is the ...
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2answers
5k views

Why (and how) do people seek acknowledgement?

I don't think I need to give evidence that people do seek acknowledgement; if it's not from parents, it's from lovers or friends. It can be things as big as life ambitions/achievements (e.g. 'I will ...
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2answers
221 views

Mulitiple partners: macho man vs. easy woman?

I sometimes hear from my friends that a man who has many female sexual partners is regarded as macho. But on the other hand, a woman with a lot of one-night stands is thought to be easy and desperate (...
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0answers
129 views

How are sexual cues known by the brain?

Sexual cues have been well established in evolutionary psychology as indicators of genetic compatibility/useful genes. How does the human brain know that a cue is an indicator of a useful trait in ...
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1answer
1k views

Why are most popular humans pets carnivores? [closed]

Most popular pets are cats, and dogs. They are all carnivores. Few people have pigs as pets. More commonly, people eat pigs. Why are some of the most common human housepets carnivores? Does this ...
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0answers
158 views

Theories of Hunter/Gatherers in the 21st Century

Are there any theories or schools of thought that assume most humans still act as if they are still hunters/gatherers? Hunter/gatherer societies of today would still prefer to sit around and talk ...
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3answers
775 views

Non coitus sexual activity and the brain

Most animals will only engage in sexual activity that can result in reproduction. There are some exceptions; Bonobos, for instance, engage in a lot of sexual activity that does not involve coitus. ...
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0answers
101 views

What evolutionary process(es) are thought to have enabled humans to experience dreams?

As some theories suggest, most, if not all, biological features in organisms exist due to environmental factors that trigger the organism's eventual adaptation to these factors for survival purposes. ...
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3answers
1k views

what is the reptile brain?

As a Carl Sagan fan, I remember (in Cosmos TV shoe) "territoriality, aggression and ritual" are products of the reptile brain while higher-level stuff like loyalty, planning for future are mammalian, ...
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1answer
390 views

Why do humans enjoy works of fiction?

Why humans (most of them, and certainly all those around me) enjoy fictional stories in one form or the other - novels, films, theater performances? The starting assumption is that there must be an ...
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1answer
224 views

What explains the relative importance of physical versus mental features in human mate selection?

I assume that it is the brain that has put human beings at the top of the food chain (Biped and opposable thumbs aside). Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest suggest that the best specimens of ...
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4answers
3k views

Why is the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard so intolerable?

I am curious as to what current research shows regarding why scraping noises such as fingernails on a chalkboard, a knife/fork scraping against a plate, metal grinding against metal or stone etc are ...
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2answers
415 views

What drives civilization? [closed]

Fossil record indicates humanity arose on the African Continent - in/around Gauteng. Yet the oldest civilizations on record are far afield - Ebla, Mesopotamia What drives civilization? Why is the ...
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3answers
379 views

How did the unique features of human intelligence evolve?

I have been debating the following topic with a friend. She argues that humans do not descend from chimpanzees or orang-utans, because if we did, such animals would share the same cognitive thinking ...
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2answers
2k views

What makes someone attractive psychologically?

What makes a person particularly attractive to another person, specifically the opposite sex? Why would the brain evolve this trait to target specific genes (that make someone look pretty), and ...
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3answers
6k views

How is intelligence correlated to beauty?

Recently, I read several interesting questions on the web about the relationship between IQ and general intelligence and physiological symmetry. But more importantly, what explains the correlation? Or ...
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1answer
917 views

Neurotransmitters appearance in the evolutionary process

Recently I disagreed with the assumption, that lots of neurotransmitters came within recent 10,000 years of Homo Sapiens evolution. Judging from the available information sources, there is possibility ...
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0answers
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When did neurotransmitters derived from monoamines first appear in evolutionary history? [closed]

When did neurotransmitters derived from monoamines first appear in evolutionary history? What are main the points in evolution for monoamines based on the neurotransmitter system ? Edition I'm ...
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3answers
620 views

What is the status of evolutionary psychology in academia today?

Having an interest in human psychology (but no formal training) I decided to take Coursera's Introduction to Psychology as a Science. Here's a snippet from an introductory lecture (it requires signup,...
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1answer
2k views

Why do humans like being touched?

Why do people like to be touched so much, why would it make sense from a evolutionary perspective. I know people enjoy hugs and company of opposite sex, but even people from the same sex hug and ...
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5answers
715 views

Does an exceptional working memory inhibit intelligence?

According to the Fox News article "Chimps Smarter Than Humans in Memory Test" chimps were able to significantly outperform humans in a simple working memory task. I quote one part of the article in ...