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Jan 28 2011

The Pop Evolutionary Psychology Game

My friend Jason and I accidentally invented this game while at a party last week. The rules are simple:

1. Make an observation about a particularly odd aspect of human behavior.

Example: “Why is it that everyone congregates in the kitchen at parties, even when there’s plenty of space elsewhere?”

2. Come up with an explanation for how that behavior would have increased fitness in hunter gathering societies.

Example: “Well, food used to be sparse, so humans would congregate at food sources, so you’d be more likely to find a mate there, and thus have more babies.

3. Bonus points are rewarded for including 50′s era gender stereotypes.

Example: “Well, we KNOW women are drawn to the kitchen because they’re inclined to gather food, so they’re always in the kitchen anyway. The men just go there to be around their potential mates.”

Hours of fun guaranteed.

42 comments

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  1. 1
    Jeremy Yoder

    I’m going to suggest this for my department’s Darwin Day party.

  2. 2
    Biodork

    Ooo..okay. How about this: Why do I feel drawn to read lolcats every frickin’ night before I go to sleep?

  3. 3
    Improbable Joe

    HAH! Let’s all play!You’re only being sarcastic about evolutionary psychology and 1950s stereotypes because…ummmm… because ancient women developed sarcasm while harvesting roots and berries to avoid getting slapped by the big burly hunters who might overhear the womenfolk talking. For their own good, of course, like Bogie and Clint Eastwood used to do in the movies. Did I play right?

  4. 4
    Gregory Colby

    I like it! Food sources and mating opportunities is a great one.

  5. 5
    Jarich

    Well, I lost the game.

  6. 6
    jerry anning

    @biodork easy. hominids who didn’t pay attention to sabertooths didn’t live long enough to mate, so reading lolcats is a remnant of hardwired survival behavior.

  7. 7
    critter8875

    I will say that a long time ago (1950s for me) the kitchen was where the wood stove was & in the winter it was the place to go to be warm.

  8. 8
    Three Ninjas

    Your friend Jason sounds handsome.

  9. 9
    LadyAtheist

    Okay I’ll play!Why is it that men refuse to stop and ask for directions when they’re lost?

  10. 10
    Three Ninjas

    What if they accidentally ask a predator!! All the males with the genes for stopping to ask directions were eaten by lions disguised as gas station attendants!

  11. 11
    Three Ninjas

    And here is my evidence: http://thepirata.com/wp-conten

  12. 12
    kelseigh

    Winner gets a research grant?

  13. 13
    csdx

    That must be the same reason that people tend to gather around the watercooler at work (except you know for potable water).

  14. 14
    ethanol

    You forgot step 4: publish

  15. 15
    April

    You win five shiny internets!

  16. 16
    Katherine

    This. Amazing.

  17. 17
    John Figdor

    I always thought it was because that’s where the beer is…

  18. 18
    Svlad Cjelli

    Well, an attraction to food almost certainly does have a strong impact on potential reproduction. Hunter-Gatherer is a bit late, though. :P

  19. 19
    J. Mark

    Men never really get lost…they just pretend to be lost so that it gives their mate something to do, and it shows that they have a vulnerable side….Women luv that, and want to jump their bones when they figure out where they are…

  20. 20
    Gedediah

    Haha – Evolutionary Psychology pwned

  21. 21
    jose

    Some apes started to walk upright more frequently because that allowed them to carry things, like food. To secure their own offspring, they started to bring food to their offspring’s survival system (aka females), but such effort was only worth it if the males were sure they were feeding their own descendants and not someone else’s. This triggered a selective pressure for bipedalism AND for parental care, and that’s why we have families now.Female bipedalism is just a genetic side effect.

  22. 22
    Katie Hartman

    This obviously stems from your innate tendency to allocate attentional resources to potential predators. You choose humorous depictions of cats because laughter resolves the stress created by the identification of a potential threat.True fact: women read lolcats less frequently because they’ve always depended on the menfolk in their vicinity to protect them from such threats.

  23. 23
    cat

    Extra bonus points should also be awarded for completely ignoring all history and anthropology as well. Cultures that do not or did not behave in such a way must not be accounted for.For example, I have seen the pathetic one about women wearing high heels more because it makes their legs look as if they are lying down and hence makes them seem sexually available to men (that one fits the rest of the test nicely). When I responded with a simple display of Louis XIV portraits (he loved his heels), the theory could not account for it. The social behavior explained always has to be one that belongs to current western patriarchies without consideration of anything else.

  24. 24
    Annie

    I always thought men light women in high heels because it made them helpless… unable to run away.

  25. 25
    Annie

    I play this game often… but love to use the hunters and gatherers to explain my friends’ mate’s annoying behavior. It’s the game that keeps on giving…

  26. 26
    katalina

    OR… They don’t want to expose their mates to potentially more handsome, virile men, which would lessen their ability to reproduce with said mate. That could also make paternity of any future children questionable, and a male shouldn’t waste their time protecting and caring for the young of another male (hence the innate extreme revulsion to being cuckolded).

  27. 27
    katalina

    How about: wearing heels engages the muscles of the legs and butt, making them appear firmer when supposedly “at rest.” This increases the appearance of youth and vitality, indicating greater fitness for reproduction. Royalty isn’t succeptible to the necessities of hunter-gatherer-ness because of the guarantee their position gives them of having at least one mate. Thus, male royals can be as feminine as they like (or maybe he was using them to actually achieve the goal of increasing height, making him seem more manly?) without hurting their chances of reproducing.

  28. 28
    Guest

    lmao! i have got to try this sometime.

  29. 29
    SonofRyan

    Ok, seriously, why so much hate for evolutionary psychology, just cause there are a few weirdo’s in it doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate discipline! I mean it’s not like evolution just stopped when creating our brains. Or are you being sarcastic? If so, ignore my previous comment. PS It does sound like a fun game though..

  30. 30
    Jen

    I put the adjective “Pop” in the title for a reason. I don’t think all evolutionary psychology is like this.

  31. 31
    Azkyroth

    Though you wouldn’t know it given that its proponents, just like Creationists with their “scientists refuse to even consider the possibility of design!” canard, immediately jump to accusing its, and/or their, critics of assuming “evolution just stopped when creating our brains.”

  32. 32
    jose

    “just like Creationists with their “scientists refuse to even consider the possibility of design!” canard”You mean something like “it is completely unreasonable to insist that the brain is magically not under selective pressure like every other thing in nature.”

  33. 33
    Azkyroth

    No, I mean like the way expressing skepticism about a particular evo-psych just-so story is not equivalent to insisting that. And like I’m really tired of having to explain that.

  34. 34
    SonofRyan

    1. Jen, ok, that’s why I added the caveat.2. It’s just a pet peeve of mine for people to dismiss psychology, especially evolutionary psych out of hand, which annoys me, especially as there is a lot of valuable and legitamae scientific research done in the psychological community, it could just be the people who I hang out with, but I constantly get people poo-pooing research as unscientific due to being psychological3. Azkyroth, please don’t compare me to a creationism proponent, I find that profoundly offensive XD.

  35. 35
    zen

    Heels: a) make the legs effectively longer, resulting in a more slender youthful look and (generally) a longer, more graceful gait.2) force the lower leg into flexing the posterior muscles resulting in a more tone youthful look.third) force the wearer to change their posture in order to maintain balance, resulting a slight inward arch of the lower back, resulting in the buttocks being more pronounced as well as thrusting the chest upwards and outwards.Like it or not, men are genetically more inclined to prefer women with child-bearing features such as more pronounced hips, ass and breasts. In fact, it’s been proven empirically that generally speaking men find women with a waist to hip ratio of .7 to be the most attractive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…That isn’t to say that many men do not find other body types such as ‘heroin chic’ or conversely BBW (aka rubenesque) more appealing. In any case, the result of the heel lengthening the leg and pronouncing hips and ass has a _bit_ of evolutionary substantiation.

  36. 36
    Rollingforest

    I had heard that men like women in heels because the women are less sturdy walking up on stilt-like shoes and men feel inclined to be more protective because of it. It just goes to show that these evolutionary psychology aren’t necessarily right…or necessarily wrong either.

  37. 37
    zen

    except that “i heard” hardly qualifies as citation linking to an empirical study.

  38. 38
    jl

    my mom just told me that if any man tells me to go to the kitchen, to throw some laxative in his coffee. Then, before it hits, go out ‘grocery shopping’ since the house is suspiciously out of toilet paper.

  39. 39
    David

    I hope that your more astute readers will recognize that Evolutionary Psychologists actually test their hypotheses with the scientific method, and do not merely speculate as to the evolved function of human thought/behavior.Also, Evolutionary Psychologists are not chauvinistic, 50′s-style conservatives as demonstrated by the egalitarian degree of female participation in the field (e.g., Leda Cosmides, Martie Haselton, Margo Wilson, Debra Lieberman) and the Liberal political orientation of member’s of the field (as reported in Geoffrey Miller’s book Spent).While I dislike arguing over the internet, and being a party pooper regarding an idea that I found pretty funny actually, perceptions like these do great harm to scholars trying to use sound evolutionary logic to understand/improve humankind.

  40. 40
    Memills

    I have a better idea — let’s play:The Pop Anti-Evolutionary Psychology Gamehttp://www.epjournal.net/blog/…Fun!

  41. 41
    Derbasementcat

    I know this is not the point at all, and just me being a pervy girl, but, I can’t the straps. Is she topless?

  42. 42
    Daniel Engblom

    You mean this link:
    http://www.epjournal.net/blog/2011/05/the-pop-anti-evolutionary-psychology-game/

  1. 43
    Evolutionary Psychology, Politics, and Bad Science « Free Northerner

    [...] genes. … It’s tricky to disprove the notion that some human trait is the result of evolution. The logic is circular: if some trait exists, it must not have been fatal to our ancestors and it may have helped them [...]

  2. 44
    Darwinismo y conducta del consumidor | Conductual

    […] Obviamente no podemos explicar todos los comportamiento a través de este marco, pero si tener una idea general sobre cuales pueden ser los grandes motivadores humanos. Eso si, casos específicos requerirán pruebas y modelos específicos. Bueno, espero que este pequeño insight evolucionista os parezca interesante. Mi intención es animaros a explorar un poco la dimensión evolucionista sin caer en el juego de la psicología evolucionista pop. […]

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