Studying human behavior in the light of evolutionary theory involves studying the comparative evolutionary history of behaviors (phylogeny), the psychological machinery that generates them (mechanisms), and the adaptive value of that machinery in past reproductive competition (natural selection). To show the value of a phylogenetic perspective, I consider the ethology of emotional expression and the cladistics of primate social systems. For psychological mechanisms, I review evidence for a pan-human set of conceptual building blocks, including innate concepts of things, space, and time, of number, of logic, of natural history, and of “other minds” and social life, which can be combined to generate a vast array of culture-specific concepts. For natural selection, I discuss the sexual selection of sex differences and similarities, and the social selection of moral sentiments and group psychology.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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