Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Act Nomination Method


Acts; Behavioral manifestations of adaptations; Behaviors


The act nomination method is a means by which evolutionary scientists can identify the behavioral manifestations of psychological adaptations.


All adaptations, decision rules, cognitive procedures, personality traits, and mating strategies must be manifested in actual behavior, broadly conceived. The act nomination procedure is simply one method for identifying those behavioral manifestations (Buss and Craik 1983).

Early research using this method identified manifestations of personality traits such dominance, submissiveness, aggression, and cooperation. During the first phase of a study, participants would be asked: “Think of the most dominant individual you know or have observed. In the spaces below, list 10 acts this person has performed that reflect or exemplify their dominance.” The instructions typically had participants nominate dominant acts that a man might perform and separately nominate domi ...

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