Evolutionary psychology is an important and rapidly expanding area in the life, social, and behavioral sciences, and this Handbook represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date reference text in the field today. Chapters in this Handbook address foundational theories and methodological approaches, providing a rich overview of the most important theoretical and empirical work in the field. The SAGE Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology is an essential resource for researchers, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students in all areas of psychology, and in related disciplines across the life, social, and behavioral sciences. Part 1: Foundations of Evolution; Part 2: Middle-Level Evolutionary Theories; and Part 3: Research Methods and Strategies.
Chapter 3: Adaptive Problems
Let's start with the scientifically established fact that natural selection is the mechanism by which organisms evolve. As such, evolution by natural selection is a cornerstone of biology (Dobzhansky, 1973). Although certainly true, it is a lofty and abstract statement of principle. How do we proceed from this first principle?
The where, when, and how of the actual evolution of adaptations (i.e., features of an organism shaped by evolution) is something that happens in the realm of adaptive problems. In particular, the specifications of what aspects of the environment constitute adaptive problems, the parameters by which those problems are solved via natural selection, and what those specifications mean for the functional structure of an ...