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Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

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  • Denise D. CumminsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology/Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois Email author 


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Opportunity to acquire food, shelter, mates, and other necessities for survival and reproductive success.


Natural selection is a straightforward process: Variation exists among individuals, and some of this variation is heritable. Some heritable attributes allow individuals to better cope with survival pressures such as predation or climactic changes and to enjoy greater success when competing for resources or mates. These individuals will leave more copies of their genes in the gene pool than individuals with less successful traits. The genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation’s gene pool (relative to the average for that population) is referred to as fitness.

From an evolutionary standpoint, therefore, the fundamental problem that an organism must solve is maximizing reproductive success which in turn reduces to maximizing access to fertile mates and resources.

An individual’s access to mates and resources depends on ...

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