Category: evolutionary psychology

There’s an Evolutionary Reason Humans Develope…

There’s an Evolutionary Reason Humans Developed the Ability to Feel Shame:

In order to be treated well, others in your community had to value you enough to protect you, share food with you, and help take care of your children. If they found out you were diseased, physically weak, stealing stuff, acting sexually out of the mainstream, etc., they might not deem you worthy of their help — they would “devalue” you.

As far as biologists can tell, organisms on this planet have one job: to make more of ourselves before we die. The behaviors that go along with that — finding food, selecting mates, figuring out how to not die today — are all just ways we all support this one biological imperative.

But from there, things get complicated. It’s pretty clear, for instance, why a cheetah would have evolved lightning speed. But why would a panda, who at one point evolved the gut of a carnivore, sit around eating bamboo all day? And it’s fairly obvious how living in cooperative social groups has helped humans claw their way to the top of the pile, but a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at why we evolved one human behavior — feeling shame — that, at first glance, seems to do us more harm than than good.

Shame doesn’t make intuitive sense. It causes pain — a feeling usually reserved for helping us avoid damaging our physical body tissue — and often makes us act against our own best interests. Shame is an emotion responsible for the lies we tell, the paranoia and depression we feel, and can sometimes lead to dramatically self-damaging behavior.

But researchers at University of California Santa Barbara claim to have discovered an evolutionary root of human shame, and argue that it’s necessary for the complex navigation required by living in a tight-knit community.

“Our human ancestors in the African savanna lived in a world without nation states, a police force, supermarkets, social security or savings accounts,” says study lead author Dr. Daniel Sznycer, of the UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology. “Because of this, your reputation was even more important 100,000 years ago than it is today.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Por…

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Porn, Junk Food, and the Internet:

What are supernomal stimuli?

Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, is the father of the term supernormal stimuli. As noted:

He constructed plaster eggs to see which a bird preferred to sit on, finding that they would select those that were larger, had more defined markings, or more saturated color—a dayglo-bright one with black polka dots would be selected over the bird’s own pale, dappled eggs.

He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.

He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.

In a very quick span of time, Tinbergen was able to influence the behavior of these animals with a new “super” stimulus that they found themselves attracted too, and which they preferred over the real thing.

Instinct took over, and now the animals’ behaviors were a detriment to their livelihood because they simply couldn’t say no to the fake stimulus.

What are supernomal stimuli?

Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, is the father of the term supernormal stimuli. As noted:

  • He constructed plaster eggs to see which a bird preferred to sit on, finding that they would select those that were larger, had more defined markings, or more saturated color—a dayglo-bright one with black polka dots would be selected over the bird’s own pale, dappled eggs.
  • He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.
  • He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.
  • In a very quick span of time, Tinbergen was able to influence the behavior of these animals with a new “super” stimulus that they found themselves attracted too, and which they preferred over the real thing.

    Instinct took over, and now the animals’ behaviors were a detriment to their livelihood because they simply couldn’t say no to the fake stimulus.

    Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

    From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and ps…

    From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and psychologist Deirdre Barrett examines how “supernormal stimuli” have caused primal urges to overrun their evolutionary purpose.

    Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable