UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evolving peculiarly human minds : novel evidence from social and developmental psychology Chudek, Matthew


Accounts of the evolutionary origins of human psychology can be as intriguing as they are difficult to test. The dearth of direct evidence of ancient conditions can in part be alleviated by careful investigation of their consequences for contemporary cognition. Here I report the results of three studies designed to test evolutionary inferences using modern psychological evidence - that is, trying to gain insight into how our brains came to be by looking at how they currently function. Two of these studies report empirical evidence of novel psychological phenomena, predicted a priori by an evolutionary theory. The third attempts further empirical verification of a result previously claimed to have evolutionary significance. The inferential logic of such investigations is very different to that typically employed by psychologists studying the proximate mechanisms behind the same phenomena. I also consider the value and difficulties particular to drawing evolutionary inferences from psychological evidence and lay out criteria for ensuring that these are reliable.

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