Evolutionary - Ryan Devine 17197266 Fall 2004 Psych 2 section 2 The Evolutionary Approach to Psychology In 1859 Charles Darwin published his magnum

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Ryan Devine 17197266 Fall, 2004 Psych 2, section 2 The Evolutionary Approach to Psychology In 1859, Charles Darwin published his magnum opus, the result of all his research in the Galapagos Islands, a book called On the Origin of Species . The book suggested an original, and at the time, rather controversial way to look at the topic. He proposed a concept of evolution, a gradual change in physiology of animal species driven by a combination of mutation and “natural selection.” Animal behavior is no different from animal anatomy and physiology, in this respect. Both change slowly through a combination of mutation or innovation and some kind of selective process which rewards good mutations, resulting in a progressive trend in one direction. The relative success of a behavioral pattern is intimately connected with the physiology and anatomy of the animal exercising that behavior. Every kindergartener knows it is “natural” for a tiger to pursue and kill a deer and that it would be absurd for a hedgehog to try such a stunt. The hedgehog just doesn’t have the equipment to be a predator. It has evolved to be a slow, burrowing animal, and that’s the way it acts. Any hedgehog attempting to behave as a tiger does would be quickly selected out of the gene pool by the harsh mistress that is Mother Nature. Similarly, a tiger attempting to live in a burrow and subsisting on worms and plants would die young. Human behavior is no less connected to our physiological adaptations. In the chapter of Introduction to Psychology which concerns itself with sleep patterns in humans, there is some mention of the evolutionary significance of sleep. The book states that spending a period of the day inactive and unconscious would actually be very useful from an evolutionary perspective (p. 157). Given our heavy dependence on vision, humans are very limited in a dark environment. In fact, our ability to do work at night would have been so compromised in a world without high-quality lighting that we could easily gain no benefit at all from a night spent on some primitive task, and the expenditure of energy required would make such an enterprise not only fruitless, but in fact less productive than a night spent doing nothing. 1
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This, the book says, explains the adaptation to sleep at night. We are better off doing nothing than wasting energy staying awake at night and attempting to do something. Yet another explanation for sleep comes from the dangers involved in wandering around a prehistoric world in the dark. A more primitive human, just as reliant on vision as we are today, could encounter many disasters outdoors at night. A nocturnal predator would have had a huge advantage over the hapless, mostly-blind cave-dweller, making the night wanderer easy prey. Sleeping is a behavioral adaptation to keep us out of the action when we’re at our worst, so that
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course PSYCH 2 taught by Professor Don'tremember during the Fall '04 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Evolutionary - Ryan Devine 17197266 Fall 2004 Psych 2 section 2 The Evolutionary Approach to Psychology In 1859 Charles Darwin published his magnum

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