Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Context, Environment, and Learning in Evolutionary Psychology

  • Laith Al-ShawafEmail author
  • David M. G. Lewis
  • Yzar S. Wehbe
  • David M. Buss
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_227-1


There is a widespread misunderstanding among social scientists that evolved psychological adaptations are like reflexes or “instincts” – blind, inflexible, and insensitive to social and environmental circumstances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evolved psychological mechanisms are environmentally sensitive and exquisitely context-dependent.

The purpose of this entry is to introduce the reader to the centrality of context in evolutionary psychology. To this end, we discuss: (1) the theoretical importance of context in evolutionary psychology, (2) the nature of evolved learning mechanisms, and (3) specific examples of context effects in evolutionary psychology.

The Importance of Context in Evolutionary Psychology

Environmental contextplays a key causal and explanatory role in evolutionary psychology. Adaptations – the primary products of natural selection – require environmental input at every stage of their emergence. Indeed, environmental pressures (1) drove...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laith Al-Shawaf
    • 1
    Email author
  • David M. G. Lewis
    • 2
  • Yzar S. Wehbe
    • 4
  • David M. Buss
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Exercise ScienceMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.PsychTable.orgCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tara DeLecce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA