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What Is Evolutionary Psychology?

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In the vast and ever-expanding field of psychology, one of the most prominent areas of study within the field is evolutionary psychology; this is the study of how everything came to be as it is, ranging from the microscopic details of genetic code to social behaviour across a multitude of species. At its core, evolutionary psychology observes how certain traits were appropriated into a given gene pool and how those traits then affected the species. There are a number of ways in which a species can evolve. One is through natural selection, this is the process where selective breeding occurs with the desirable genotypes and phenotypes. An example would be how giraffes came to have long necks, their food source was in a high canopy, which meant…show more content…
The evolution of human language is a highly debated topic with many perspectives and theories dating back to the 19th century and as a result is it a subject full of ambiguity. This is due to the fact that there is an abundance of theories with evidence to give them grounds to argue, not only this, but because more than one aspect of the evolution of language is in question. The first question lies in the purpose of its development, what evolutionary advantages would it present early humanity. The second is how it came to fruition, was it through natural selection or was it taught. The third query lies within the early stages of human language, what form did it take and why. Was language always vocal or did it start by being gestural similar to sign language. There is an abundance of forms of communication in the animal kingdom, namely babies crying for their mothers’ attention or calls to warn of danger. However, this can not be deemed as a language because in the context of evolutionary linguistics, language is defined “as any system which allows for the free and unfettered expression of thoughts into signals, and the complementary interpretation of such signals into thoughts” (Fitch, 2010 pg.…show more content…
However, this point of view is not shared by everyone; Dawkins & Krebs (1974) reason that language developed not to communicate and inform others but to manipulate and deceive them. They argue that there exists no difference in the way a person would utilize a tool such as a stone for personal gain and the way one would take advantage of another human being (Dawkins & Krebs, 1974). They believe this to be due to the natural survival instinct that every animal possesses, trying whatever it possible can in order to pass on its genes to the next generation. Still, in order to manipulate another organism with passive means such as communication, whatever form it may take, the other party must first fully understand what they are being told to do. Notwithstanding, it is unlikely that a complex language faculty formed with manipulation as the prime directive as humans are social animals who rely on one another and work constructively together. It is possible, however, that manipulation arose as a by product of the ability to communicate and the natural will to survive, to put oneself before others through deceit. There is one theory presented by Bickerton that states the evolution of language was to present humans with a voice for their inner thoughts. Bickerton claims that reaching the levels of cognition in which humans
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