Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Savanna Hypothesis, The

  • Gordon H. OriansEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2930-1



The Savanna Hypothesis states that we retain genetically based preferences for features of high-quality African savannas where our ancestors lived when their brains and bodies evolved into their modern forms.


Selection of a place to live is a crucial step in the lives of most animals. Selection depends on the recognition of objects, sounds, and odors to which an animal, molded by natural selection, responds as if it understood their significance for its future survival and reproductive success. Evolutionary theory suggests that the ability of a landscape to evoke positive emotional states should be positively correlated with the expected survival and reproductive success of individuals of that species in it. In other words, good habitats should evoke strong positive responses; poor habitats should evoke weak or negative responses (Orians and Heerwagen 1992). Habitat selection has served as a conceptual basis for...


African Savanna Tropical Savanna Landscape Preference Savanna Tree Herbaceous Understory 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA