Evolutionary Psychology Exam Revision

sorts of things you should probably know 

  • Reproductive strategies, and how these may differ slightly for the two sexes
  • The adaptive significance of monogamy; the adaptive significance of jealousy
  • How sexual differences and reproductive strategies fit with a wider range of adaptive behaviours (aggression, different kinds of group living, cooperation)
  • Examples from other species: monogamy, mating/parenting strategies – what are the conditions that promote different sexual strategies?
  • How does evolutionary psychology explain altruism and cooperation?
  • What does evolutionary psychology contribute to an understanding of aggression?


example exam questions

– Does anybody need evolutionary psychology? is it merely descriptive, is it supported by evidence, does it benefit the understanding and application of psychology, and does it have any useful application of its own?

– ‘The evolutionary psychology of behaviour is more about conflict than cooperation’. Critically explore, using examples and perspectives relevant to evolutionary psychology.

– How do evolutionary theorists explain aggressive behaviour? Critically explore, using examples and perspectives from evolutionary psychology.

– How has female reproductive strategy been shaped by evolution?  Critically explore, using examples and perspectives relevant to evolutionary psychology.

– ‘Humans have evolved to make pair bonds’. Critically explore, using examples  and perspectives from evolutionary psychology.

– How does life-history theory enable us to account for early and late reproduction in a sexually reproducing species?

– What can the application of life-history trade-offs tell us about fertility ‘decisions’ in sexually reproducing species?


questions you should mostly be able to answer

  1. *what are the 3 key questions that evo psy helps to answer? p1
  2. (*)define proximate & ultimate cause p1&4 
  3. what 2 disciplines in psychology relate biological inheritance to behaviour & what is their focus? p2
  4. what are the 2 key ideas in evo psy?
  5. what’s the difference between sociobiology and evo psychology? p3
  6. According to Williams’ principles, what 3 things does our genetic inheritance supply? p4
  7. *Following on from this, how do we know which is a naturally selected adaptation?
  8. What criticisms have been made about evo psy?p5
  9. *What biological feature did Nunn et al (2000) say is comparable between humans & apes?
  10. And what type of sexual activity is mathematically optimal for female apes?
  11. What are the key concerns in EP regarding sex & parenting? p7
  12. *What type of species do Daly & Wilson say humans are like? 
  13. *What does this mean in terms of the types of behaviour displayed?
  14. what are the 2 accounts of sexual competition from (a) Daly & Wilson and (b) Diamond? p8
  15. Why would monogamy make sense for humans? 
  16. According Buss, what infidelity scenario causes most distress for (a) men & (b)women?
  17. What’s his explanation for this?
  18. what are the 2 theories of the purpose of concealment and what’s the payoff? p10&11
  19. is aggression is usually towards males or females? p17,21
  20. what are the proposed 2 functions of male aggression? p.18
  21. what features suggest that aggression might be an adaptation? p19 
  22. Does Wilson suggest that murder is normal or not and why? 
  23. According to Daly & Wilson (1988) why are males more aggressive and risk taking? p20
  24. Who is more likely to kill their spouse – men or women? p21
  25. Who is more likely to be the target of aggression – men or women? p22
  26. why is altruism difficult to explain/ contradictory? p23 & p24
  27. How did Wilkinson explain altruism amongst bats?
  28. Are chimps altruistic?