Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Darwinian Medicine and Survival Problems

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3736-1



Darwinian medicine is the application of evolutionary principles to health and disease. In many instances, natural selection favors adaptations that improve the survival of individuals. In other occasions, however, natural selection can favor adaptations that have a negative impact on the survival, health, and well-being of individuals.


One of the most striking features of living organisms is that they appear to have been designed for a purpose. A natural explanation of this phenomenon eluded scholars for centuries until the mid-nineteenth century, when Charles Darwin provided a solution to the problem. By carefully comparing different populations, their ecology, and geographical distribution, Darwin discovered that the appearance of design in living organisms is the product of a process he called evolution by natural selection (Darwin 1859). Natural selection sorts out the genetic...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin Bennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPennsylvania State University, BeaverMonacaUSA