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Author Topic:   Laws of Attraction: The seduction of Evolutionary Psychology?
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5060 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 16 of 102 (290126)
02-24-2006 2:18 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 1:40 PM


How would it do that, except in the simplest possible case?

You just answered your own question. I said may, not under all conditions. I am done discussing word choices and general logic.

If you have an EP study which you believe is a representation of modern scientific research delivering a solid conclusion regarding human behavior, explaining how a specific behavior is genetically determined, and what that mutation was reinforced to solve, please cite it.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 02-24-2006 1:40 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 17 of 102 (290128)
02-24-2006 2:21 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Silent H
02-24-2006 2:18 PM


If you have an EP study which you believe is a representation of modern scientific research delivering a solid conclusion regarding human behavior, explaining how a specific behavior is genetically determined, and what that mutation was reinforced to solve, please cite it.

Why do you believe that all that is necessary for evolutionary theories about human behavior to be legitimate? It's sufficient to show that a given behavior has a genetic influence, because we know that adaptations to environment are the origin of our genes.

Or is the last part of that what you find debatable? Human beings are special? We're the only organisms ever whose genes are not the result of adaptation to circumstance?

I'm willing to cite research indicating that human mate choice is not random, but influenced by purely genetic concerns under the scope of human consciousness (which was my original contention that prompted this topic), but I need to know that I'm not going to spend 200 posts rebutting nonsense objections, correcting your strawmen, and deflecting ad hominem.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Silent H, posted 02-24-2006 2:18 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Silent H, posted 02-24-2006 2:53 PM crashfrog has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5060 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 18 of 102 (290136)
02-24-2006 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 2:17 PM


Re: Violence,Testosterone, and Evolution
The origin of human genes is the same as the origin of the genes of all organisms - evolution. It's hardly necessary to provide a speculation about what environment was present that our genes had to adapt to;

I agree with the above statement, but that stands in contrast to EP which specifically claims to draw a connection between a behavior and an environmental factor. By creating such a hypothesis they bring it upon themselves to present evidence for that connection.

we know that the origin of the content of our genes is evolution, which would entail adaptation to our environment - whatever it may be.

Well that's not quite true. Some genes may exist, creating a trait, which are neutral toward environment and so not a result of adaptation to an environment. I might add that not all behaviors need to be hardwired into our brain (even as a choice among many others), but based on the nature of our brain (which adapts to our immediate environments) may have no connection to species evolutionary pressures at all.

I don't see where that has been posited.

If one says that whr selection is related to health estimation in humans, then one has inherently posited that whr selection as a behavior was selected for while humans were within this form, and not sometime earlier in their ancestry.

we know that the origins of our genes is adaptation to environment regardless of the fact that we're not certain what that environment may have entailed.

Our genes are products of mutation and selection. This is agreed. That certain behaviors are genetically coded as a result of evolutionary pressures for specific situations is not. If you do not understand that EP posits the latter, I do not know what to say, I have provided a link to a Wiki article on what EP is.

I am discussing THAT definition of EP, which is directly related to writings of people who claim to represent EP.

If you have a paper to present which does not advance the type of theory I outlined then I will deal with it. In fact I am really only interested in dealing with actual evidence/studies within this thread regarding genetic formation of specific human behavior.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
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melatonin
Member (Idle past 5449 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 19 of 102 (290139)
02-24-2006 2:48 PM


Hi Holmes.

here's an EP study which I find interesting and may answer an important question - if schizophrenia is genetic and reduces evol. fitness, why does it persist in the population?

Paper here...

http://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/daniel.nettle/nettle%20and%20clegg%20proceedings%20b.pdf

web summary...

Schizotypy, creativity and mating success in humans
Medical Research News

The more creative a person is, the more sexual partners they are likely to have, according to a pioneering study which could explain the behaviour of notorious womanisers such as poets Lord Byron and Dylan Thomas.

The research, by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Open University in the UK, found that professional artists and poets have around twice as many sexual partners as those who do not indulge in these creative activities.

The authors also delved into the personalities of artists and poets and found they shared certain traits with mentally ill patients. These traits were linked with an increased sexual activity and are thought to have evolved because they contribute to the survival of the human species.

Some 425 British men and women, including a sample of visual artists and poets and schizophrenic patients, were surveyed for the report, which is published in the academic journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society (B). Although creative types have long been associated with increased sexual activity, this the first time that this link has been proved by research.

Study participants filled in questionnaires which asked about their degree of creative activity in poetry and visual art, their psychiatric history, and their history of sexual encounters since the age of 18. They were also required to answer questions on a 'schizotypy inventory', a breakdown of characteristics linked with schizophrenic patients.

The average number of sexual partners for professional artists and poets was between four and ten, compared with a mean of three for non-creative types. Statistics also showed the average number of sexual partners rose in line with an increase in the amount of creative activity a person took part in.

The lead author of the study, Dr Daniel Nettle, lecturer in psychology with Newcastle University's School of Biology, suggested two key reasons for the findings. He said: "Creative people are often considered to be very attractive and get lots of attention as a result. They tend to be charismatic and produce art and poetry that grabs people's interest.

"It could also be that very creative types lead a bohemian lifestyle and tend to act on more sexual impulses and opportunities, often purely for experience's sake, than the average person would. Moreover, it's common to find that this sexual behaviour is tolerated in creative people. Partners, even long-term ones, are less likely to expect loyalty and fidelity from them."

Dr Nettle added that the results suggested an evolutionary reason for why certain personality traits that serious artists and poets were found to share with schizophrenic patients perpetuated in society.

He added: "These personality traits can manifest themselves in negative ways, in that a person with them is likely to be prone to the shadows of full-blown mental illness such as depression and suicidal thoughts. This research shows there are positive reasons, such as their role in mate attraction and species survival, for why these characteristics are still around."

Yet although some 'schizotypal' traits are linked with high numbers of partners, schizophrenic patients do not experience this level of sexual activity. Dr Nettle said these people tend to suffer from acute social withdrawal and emotional flatness - characteristics that the researchers found were linked with a reduced number of sexual partners.


http://www.news-medical.net/?id=14797

I thought you'd like this study, lol - schizophrenia is largely genetic, schizotypy is associated with schizophrenia, schizotypy is related to creativity, creativity is related to sexual success - therefore sexual success of schizotypy maintains the scizophrenic genes...

It's an explanation, maybe not perfect, but the best we have at this time.

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-24-2006 04:46 PM


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Silent H
Member (Idle past 5060 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 20 of 102 (290143)
02-24-2006 2:53 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 2:21 PM


It's sufficient to show that a given behavior has a genetic influence, because we know that adaptations to environment are the origin of our genes.

I have suggested that mere correlation is not sufficient to indicate a genetic influence.

Human beings are special? We're the only organisms ever whose genes are not the result of adaptation to circumstance?

That is not my position, and I have corrected you on this already.

I'm willing to cite research indicating that human mate choice is not random, but influenced by purely genetic concerns under the scope of human consciousness

Then cite it.

(which was my original contention that prompted this topic)

Your contention did not "prompt" this topic. My past threads had nothing to do with you, and the thread which prompted this specific thread contained more than just your posts. Please let's just keep this factual regarding studies.

I need to know that I'm not going to spend 200 posts rebutting nonsense objections, correcting your strawmen, and deflecting ad hominem.

Either post a study or don't. This site is filled with more than 200 posts and reposts and explanations of studies to people that may not understand. I'm not sure what the hangup is here. If your study is proper, then what difference will my invalid criticisms make?

I will once again state that the objections I have raised, have been raised by professionals in these fields, including some of the originators of EP who have not been happy with the direction popular EP has taken. Some of the positions you appear to be claiming are strawmen as stated explicitly by members of EP.

If you are done arguing the man, please argue your position using evidence from the field of EP.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by crashfrog, posted 02-24-2006 2:21 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by crashfrog, posted 02-24-2006 4:53 PM Silent H has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5060 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 21 of 102 (290146)
02-24-2006 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by melatonin
02-24-2006 2:48 PM


Hello M, I was actually hoping you'd show up. I was interested in your take on EP, and was thinking of asking you specifically to join the thread.

here's an EP study which I find interesting and may answer an important question - if schizophrenia is genetic and reduces evol. fitness, why does it persist in the population?

I was not intending this thread to be a speed thread, but rather an accurate one so I hope you will excuse me if this reply does not contain my analysis of the study you presented. I will take a look at it carefully and have a reply on it by tomorrow sometime, or Monday at the latest (pretty sure it'll be tomorrow).

I look forward to our discussion.

I might add as a side note on another subject that my gf will be working on a paper regarding dreams as memory consolidation, and would be interested in info on that at some point. I realize you have already posted some on that topic which makes me wonder if you had more. But that's sometime in the future.

It's getting late here and I will get back to you asap, watch for a new reply soon.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by melatonin, posted 02-24-2006 2:48 PM melatonin has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 22 of 102 (290155)
02-24-2006 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Silent H
02-24-2006 2:39 PM


Re: Violence,Testosterone, and Evolution
I agree with the above statement, but that stands in contrast to EP which specifically claims to draw a connection between a behavior and an environmental factor.

But that's not the claim of EP. The claim of EP is that a given behavior has an organic influence; and that organic influence exists because it's evolutionarily advantageous.

In most of these experiments, for instance the ones about human mate choice (which I think are the experiments we should stick to), the specific environment is irrelevant, because the environment is always the same - one individual among many, some of whom he or she wishes to mate with. The environment is always the same in sexual selection - sex.

Some genes may exist, creating a trait, which are neutral toward environment and so not a result of adaptation to an environment.

We would expect to find such genes fairly randomly distributed, rather than corellated with any adaptive factor, however, so we can ignore those genes. They're not relevant.

I might add that not all behaviors need to be hardwired into our brain

More strawmen. Nobody's suggested that any behavior is "hardwired" into our brain, except some junior copy editor at the science desk. The brain is an adaptable organ indeed and as near as we can tell, it's ability to adapt to new modes of operation and new structure is limitless.

But, regardless of that fact, the majority of human brains develop the same way. Despite the many differences between us, Holmes, unless you've experienced a drastic brain injury at some point in your life, it's guaranteed that you process language, vision, motor control, and the like all with exactly the same areas of your brain that I do. Clearly the development of our brains is influenced, if not determined, by some genetic program.

It's not inherently unreasonable to suggest that that programmed structure leads to programmed influences, as well. And so the burden of proof of substantiating such a claim is not nearly as high as you make it out to be, since it would be highly unreasonable indeed to suggest that there are no programmed influences at all.

If one says that whr selection is related to health estimation in humans, then one has inherently posited that whr selection as a behavior was selected for while humans were within this form, and not sometime earlier in their ancestry.

There's nothing inherent about that at all.

That certain behaviors are genetically coded as a result of evolutionary pressures for specific situations is not.

But you have agreed. A few posts ago you agreed that hormones influence behavior and hormones are the results of genes. The conclusion is inescapable. If behavior is influenced by hormones, and if hormones are produced by genetics, and if our genetics are the result of evolution, and if evolution means "allele frequency change over time as a result of differential reproductive success", then certain behaviors are positively or negatively influenced as a result of evolutionary adaptations to environment.

And we know that all those "if's" are true; you yourself have specifically agreed with each one of them. So you must agree that there are evolved influences on our behavior. Now it's simply a matter of determining which behaviors are so influenced, and once we've established a heritable organic influence on a behavior, it's simply a matter of trying to determine a reasonable adaptive benefit to the influence.

I grant you that the last two things are not trivial, but the first - determining which behaviors have an organic influence - is harder than the second. The first is simply a matter of determining if the behavior is evenly distributed or not once culture is controlled for. The second is just imagination, like any time we posit that one trait or another might result in an adaptive benefit.

If you have a paper to present which does not advance the type of theory I outlined then I will deal with it.

I've got a few but they're going to have to wait till when I get home.

In fact I am really only interested in dealing with actual evidence/studies within this thread regarding genetic formation of specific human behavior.

Loaded question. It's sufficient to show that a behavior is organic and heritable to imply that it is genetic; our genes are the sole mechanism of heredity.


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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 23 of 102 (290156)
02-24-2006 4:53 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Silent H
02-24-2006 2:53 PM


I have suggested that mere correlation is not sufficient to indicate a genetic influence.

Nobody has suggested that it is. Correlation demonstrates that a behavior has an organic influence; heredity demonstrates that such an influence is genetic. Genes are, after all, the mechanism of heredity.

I will once again state that the objections I have raised, have been raised by professionals in these fields, including some of the originators of EP who have not been happy with the direction popular EP has taken.

Well, wait now. Are we talking about actual scientific work in neurobiology, neurophysiology, and neuropsychology? Or are we talking about stuff in Discover Magazine where a breathless copy editor claims that "male brains are hardwired to like tits" or something?

If the intent of all this is to criticize speculations by non-biologists about evolutionary origins of behavior being offered as authoritative, I'm in total agreement. And it doesn't escape my notice that I myself, against my better judgement, am guilty of the same thing.

But your OP seemed to be an indictment of the entire field; a criticism of the very idea of offering that humans often behave the way they do because those behaviors connote reproductive success. And there's absolutely no reason to critique such an inherently reasonable idea. It would be unreasonable to suggest that this is definately not the case.

Is that what you're doing? When I read your posts, you seem to, but that might just be another example of how poorly we communicate with each other.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by Silent H, posted 02-24-2006 2:53 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 102 (290158)
02-24-2006 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Silent H
02-24-2006 2:39 PM


Re: Violence,Testosterone, and Evolution
quote:
Some genes may exist, creating a trait, which are neutral toward environment and so not a result of adaptation to an environment.

Damn. I've tried to resist being pulled into this thread...and I have failed.

Interesting point. If certain tendencies toward male/female perceptions of beauty can be shown to be based, at least partly, on biology, then mundane sexual selection would be sufficient to account for it -- there would be no need to try to figure out what adaptive benefits such traits would have.

But of course that would undercut the main reason for evo-psych, namely giving legitamacy to the old parlour game of trying to find reasons for certain behaviors to be adaptive.


"Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 25 of 102 (290162)
02-24-2006 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Chiroptera
02-24-2006 4:57 PM


Re: Violence,Testosterone, and Evolution
But of course that would undercut the main reason for evo-psych, namely giving legitamacy to the old parlour game of trying to find reasons for certain behaviors to be adaptive.

Certainly that's speculation whenever it was done, but I don't see why that's illegitimate. These things are never offered authoritatively and it's not like you could design an experiment to test them.

I don't see it as any more of a parlor game than a bunch of physicists talking about string theory, which can't be tested either. It's harmless at worst and at best, occasionally illuminating.

We accept all the time the idea that certain traits are advantageous. Why is this different? If I asked you to prove that having wings was an advantage, could you do that? I don't see how. Nontheless we accept that wings provided an advantage to many populations of different organisms.


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Silent H
Member (Idle past 5060 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 26 of 102 (290267)
02-25-2006 6:10 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 4:53 PM


If the intent of all this is to criticize speculations by non-biologists about evolutionary origins of behavior being offered as authoritative, I'm in total agreement. And it doesn't escape my notice that I myself, against my better judgement, am guilty of the same thing.

But your OP seemed to be an indictment of the entire field; a criticism of the very idea of offering that humans often behave the way they do because those behaviors connote reproductive success.


I tried to make it clear what I was criticizing in my OP, and more definitively in my answer to Phat's request for info on EP. These statements indicate that there is a miscommunication going on. I'm not sure how I can be more clear, but I will try...

1) I am not indicting the entire field of EP, nor am I in any fashion criticizing the idea that behaviors have an organic component, and that that organic component may have formed via evolutionary pressures due to contributions to reproductive success. I find such concepts plausible and interesting for study.

2) I AM indicting a growing segment of the field of EP, whose conclusions are unfortunately making headway into public rhetoric and reasoning based on media interest and popular publications. Although I am often confronted by nonbiologists touting conclusions, I am equally concerned with the degreed biologists and psychologists who are championing this segment. Their "studies" make up the basis of that segment and if you read their works you will find language strikingly similar to that found in ID literature.

3) This OP is meant to challenge assumptions regarding what is and can be known about human behavior as connected to evolutionary pressures, by specifically looking at the studies (and yes they are published in peer-reviewed journals to my amazement) and investigating how they hold up to modern scientific methodology. Indeed my main focus of disagreement is not on what they conclude, but the methods used to draw their conclusions.

4) You are correct that there are other speculative fields of science, but most maintain they are theorists with no evidence, which is unlike the EP crowd I am discussing. And unlike string theorists who are dealing with purely mechanical systems, popular EP theorists ignore and dismiss that the brain is adaptive to present circumstances and environments, including cultural pressures, and treat it as purely mechanical between behavior and physical evolutionary success.

5) There are many people in both Evolutionary Biology and Psychology who are critical of this movement due to its flawed methods and its popular though wholly speculative "conclusions" which have become accepted as talking points by the masses, as we saw in the other thread. Stephen J Gould, for example, was an incredibly vocal opponent. I have taken some of my criticisms from him, as I have read the dismissives from Pinker which did not satisfactorily answer Gould's points.

I think the best way to go about this review is to produce papers on specific behaviors so everyone can see the evidence we are discussing. I have already produced one, with criticisms. Others are welcome, and you will see this later today when I respond to Melatonin's citation (I've read it and I'll be writing my analysis today).


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 27 of 102 (290289)
02-25-2006 11:21 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Silent H
02-25-2006 6:10 AM


I think the best way to go about this review is to produce papers on specific behaviors so everyone can see the evidence we are discussing.

I'll post a paper that I think is indicative of the sort of research that I think of when I think of evolutionary psychology. Am I wrong to attribute this article to the field of evolutionary psychology?

http://tinyurl.com/ox47t

(TinyURL is a free URL proxy service for shrinking long URL's.)

quote:
The Scent of Symmetry: A Human Sex Pheromone that Signals Fitness?

A previous study by the authors showed that the body scent of men who have greater body bilateral symmetry is rated as more attractive by normally ovulating (non-pill-using) women during the period of highest fertility based on day within the menstrualcycle. Women in low-fertility phases of the cycle and women using hormone-based contraceptives do not show this pattern. The current study replicated these findings with a larger sample and statistically controlled for men’s hygiene and other factors that were not controlled in the first study. The current study also examined women’s scent attractiveness to men and found no evidence that men prefer the scent of symmetric women.

We propose that the scent of symmetry is an honest signal of phenotypic and genetic quality in the human male, and chemical candidates are discussed. In both sexes, facial attractiveness (as judged from photos) appears to predict body scent attractiveness to the opposite sex. Women’s preference for the scent associated with men’s facial attractiveness is greatest when their fertility is highest across the menstrual cycle. The results overall suggest that women have an evolved preference for sires with good genes.



This message is a reply to:
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melatonin
Member (Idle past 5449 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 28 of 102 (290394)
02-25-2006 2:38 PM


Just thought I'd outline my opinion of EP…

I see no problem with EP thinking. We are an animal, and therefore are affected by the same processes as other species. I don’t feel that EP suggests that genes are the sole determinant of behaviour, just that genes provide a dispostional basis of behaviour. Many personality traits are highly heritable and therefore there are good reasons to look for evolutionary explanations of behaviour. But we also know that that even in identical twins they can readily develop different personalities due to environmental situations (Judith Harris’ book ‘No two Alike’ addresses this; Pinker is a fan of Harris).

For instance, sociopathy/psychopathy is highly heritable and the same can be seen in criminality (due to its association with sociopathy). The two-threshold model suggests that an interaction between genes, hormones, and environment are required to express sociopathy. So, we know that sociopathy is much more common in males – this may well be because androgens trigger these genes. But how do we explain female sociopaths? Well it’s suggested that for sociopathy to appear in females, they need a greater ‘genetic dose’ to exhibited this behaviour. It’s also been shown that there is a greater risk in the offspring of female sociopaths - suggesting that environment is more important for male sociopathy (and it expresses at a lower genetic dose) and females possess a greater genetic load.

Personality theories suggest that certain traits are indicative of sociopathy – low ‘harm-avoidance’, high ‘novelty-seeking’, low ‘reward-dependence’ (Cloninger. 1987). These are also heritable and have a neurophysiological basis – HA –serotonin; RD = noradrenaline; NS = dopamine. So we would expect sociopaths to exhibit such physiology – there is data suggesting they do (see Zuckermann, 1989). Researchers also distinguish between ‘primary’ (predominately genetics) and ‘secondary’ (predominately environment) forms of sociopathy. Also important is the fact that sociopaths exhibit a poor ‘theory of mind’ (are less able to represent the feelings of others, autisism is more common in males and they seem to lack a TOM).

So EP would suggest that the ‘trait’ of sociopathy must have some utility in fitness. One way to view sociopaths is as ‘cheaters’. Game theory suggests that in certain circumstances (environments) this strategy will pay-off.

I have a different view of this. I don’t know if it is discussed in the literature of EP but a recent paper by Tania Singer raised this possibility to me. Tania Singer’s group at UCL have shown that males show less empathy (and even pleasure - schadenfreude) to the suffering of an individual who has ‘cheated’ them. They suggest that this would be useful in the evolution of society – men as rule makers and protectors (which I guess is similar to alpha male behaviour). It seems to me that this could be a consequence of similar genes indicated in sociopathy (it’s completely my speculation, lol). As empathy requires ‘theory of mind’ and sociopaths are deficient in ‘theory of mind’ and so lack empathy, it seems that sociopathy may be the result of an extreme version of such behaviour. It seems analogous to the schizotypy situation – schizotypic traits aid a form of human display and are useful for sexual selection, schizophrenia is an extreme form of schizotypy. Maybe sociopathy is an extreme form of the male ability to exact revenge by restricting empathy. It’s quite paradoxical because it would mean that the genes that aid in maintaining adherence to social rules, may actually also underlie the behaviour of those who break such rules.

Anyway, be kind to me on the speculation above ;)

One good criticism of EP comes from Panksepp (a behavioural neuroscientist), he agrees with some aspects of what holmes says – there is species-centrism in EP and assessment of comparative neurology would aid in the understanding of human behaviour/evolution of mind. A lot of the criticism of EP seems to be due to the perception of ‘hyperreductionism’, I think reductionist approaches are useful (I have a tendency for reductionism because of my approach to human behaviour), as long as we understand it cannot explain behaviour in its entirety (i.e. they are limited).

I see possible EP explanations of social behaviours such as prejudice but it is very useful in certain behaviours that are directly related to evolutionary selction (mate selection etc).

And before Holmes posts his criticism of the schizotypy study – I see a few issues with it myself – one is that the researchers should have assessed social desirability, the answers to questions about sexual proclivities are likely to be very amenable to demand characteristics - maybe high schizotypal individuals are more likely to exaggerate. I’m sure holmes will have more though.

Report of Tania Singer paper…

http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_wtx028342.html

Holmes, on the REM-memory article issue, I would tell her to start with the papers I posted (couple of good reviews there). If she can't access them, I'll e-mail them to you if you want :)

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-25-2006 02:58 PM

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-25-2006 03:08 PM


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 Message 29 by crashfrog, posted 02-25-2006 3:04 PM melatonin has replied
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 707 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 29 of 102 (290397)
02-25-2006 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by melatonin
02-25-2006 2:38 PM


I have a different view of this. I don’t know if it is discussed in the literature of EP but a recent paper by Tania Singer raised this possibility to me. Tania Singer’s group at UCL have shown that males show less empathy (and even pleasure - schadenfreude) to the suffering of an individual who has ‘cheated’ them. They suggest that this would be useful in the evolution of society – men as rule makers and protectors (which I guess is similar to alpha male behaviour). It seems to me that this could be a consequence of similar genes indicated in sociopathy (it’s completely my speculation, lol). As empathy requires ‘theory of mind’ and sociopaths are deficient in ‘theory of mind’ and so lack empathy, it seems that sociopathy may be the result of an extreme version of such behaviour.

Just to add to your exciting speculations, you mentioned game theory - it's known that the most successful strategy in the "iterative prisoner's dilemma" - a common mathematical game where mutual cooperation is more advantageous than mutual distrust, but slightly less advantageous than betraying a partner who is cooperating with you - is a kind of "vengance" algorhythm where the player cooperates if he was cooperated with in the last game with that partner and betrays his partner if he was himself betrayed by that partner last game.

The ability to take vengance is important to that strategy, obviously. So that might explain the evolutionary influence that led to a gene suppressing empathy, or promoting pleasure at observing a betrayer be betrayed. Such a suppression might interefere with child rearing, however, so that might explain why the suppression is more pronounced in males than in females.

Just speculation, but I find your ideas very exciting.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by melatonin, posted 02-25-2006 2:38 PM melatonin has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by melatonin, posted 02-25-2006 3:18 PM crashfrog has taken no action

  
melatonin
Member (Idle past 5449 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 30 of 102 (290398)
02-25-2006 3:18 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by crashfrog
02-25-2006 3:04 PM


cheers crashfrog, I'll check that out.

I come up with 20 different hypotheses a week from reading the literature - one day I may hit a useful one, lol.

edit: I should probably restrict expending my brain juice to areas more relevant to my research...

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-25-2006 04:50 PM


This message is a reply to:
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