An Interdisciplinary Behavior-Analytic Alternative to Cognitivist Evolutionary Psychology — Advantages and Challenges


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Norsk atferdsanalytisk forening

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An interdisciplinary behavioral science that places behavior analysis as the seamlessly interconnecting discipline between evolutionary biology and cultural anthropology is preferable to the current paradigm of cognitivist evolutionary psychology. Nevertheless, evolutionary psychology has some strong qualities, particularly a modular multi-adaptation perspective that emphasizes domain-specific adaptations. A synthesis between this and the domain-general emphasis on operant selection in behavior analysis is proposed. On the other hand, evolutionary psychology in its current form holds on to an implausible monopoly on creativity, by limiting acknowledgement of legitimate selection processes to natural selection alone. Natural selection initially prepares the organism for environments that resemble past environments. The mismatch hypothesis, central to evolutionary psychology, highlights this insight, but the mistake made by evolutionary psychologists is to assume that there has not been significant differential phylogenetic selection for a remedy to this initial blind spot inherent in natural selection itself. A better, much more plausible assertion is that there has been tremendously strong selection for any capacities that promote adaptation to current, novel environments, most notably learning and social, cultural learning. Interdisciplinary behavior analysis potentially refines and transforms the “mismatch” hypothesis that is prevalent in evolutionary psychology, and accounts for cultural novel adaptive complexity in a way that evolutionary psychology does not and cannot. Parallel to causal categorical distinction between proximate and ultimate causes within ontogeny, one may also distinguish between ontogenetic behavioral replicators and interactors. This distinction in turn also enables a better understanding of the relationship between domain-specific and domain-general phylogenetic behavioral adaptations.




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