I'm relatively new here, so I'm sorry if this topic has been seen before. But I have a question for all of you, that has been perplexing me for some time.
One of the things that I have an interest for is thinking of any human trait (very often psychological), and then wondering why that trait evolved to be the way it is. One trait that I've found it very hard to find an evolutionary explanation for is our appreciation for music. Why is it that it pleases us to listen to music?
Appreciation for music doesn't seem at first glance to be directly beneficial to our survival. One thing that my friend suggested is that it could be a sort of side-effect of another trait that we developed. I have trouble thinking of what this trait might be.
I'd be very interested to hear what you guys think!
Consider that intelligence could be a side-effect of sexual selection for creativity in mating displays, dances and songs - and again compare the attractiveness of people to their apparent intelligence.
My psychology teacher (an avid evolutionary psychologist) also made this theory, and I find it very intriguing. When we students proposed the theory that we evolved intelligence because it helped us make tools, hunting strategies, etc., therefore increasing our chance of reproduction, he said this: "It doesn't take rocket scientists to make stone tools. We're rocket scientists."
This is a good thought; however it can lead to a chicken/egg argument. The opposite sex would first have to appreciate music before it would be beneficial as a mating ritual. You probably didn't mean it this, but I thought I would bring up the point.
That was the main problem I had with that theory, although it does make sense. You put it very eloquently, AustinG.
Does music appreciation have to be beneficial? It could be simply a nuetral trait that exists because nothing selected against it.
Wouldn't it have to have evolved for some reason, though? Come from somewhere?
If you want to theorize that music appreciation is beneficial in some way, you must start primitive...lets say with simple sounds. Are there sounds that a hunter-gatherer would benifit by being attracted to? The call of a mammoth? The sound of a deer? The coo of fowl? The symphony of a free-flowing streem? I think its reasonable to say an attraction to these noises would be beneficial to early humans. This is all that is needed for music; once early humans were able to construct primitive instruments, they could replicate the sounds they heard in nature.
Absolutely fascinating. Thank you for this, AustinG.