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Abstract

Evolutionary psychology is the second wave of the cognitive revolution. The first wave focused on computational processes that generate knowledge about the world: perception, attention, categorization, reasoning, learning, and memory. The second wave views the brain as composed of evolved computational systems, engineered by natural selection to use information to adaptively regulate physiology and behavior. This shift in focus—from knowledge acquisition to the adaptive regulation of behavior—provides new ways of thinking about every topic in psychology. It suggests a mind populated by a large number of adaptive specializations, each equipped with content-rich representations, concepts, inference systems, and regulatory variables, which are functionally organized to solve the complex problems of survival and reproduction encountered by the ancestral hunter-gatherers from whom we are descended. We present recent empirical examples that illustrate how this approach has been used to discover new features of attention, categorization, reasoning, learning, emotion, and motivation.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.psych.121208.131628
2013-01-03
2024-07-21
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Supplementary Data

  • Article Type: Review Article
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