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Social And Evolutionary Psychology Essay

1150 words - 5 pages

Social and Evolutionary Psychology

In an attempt to define civilized man’s relationship to the jungle and primitive societies, one must first consider the theories of social psychologists who have offered interpretations of modern man’s reactions upon insertion into a primitive setting. The main contrast in human states that arises from this argument is the concept of civilization versus savagery. Much is uncovered about the path man tends to take when confronted with these two options when studying the research as to what arises from man’s savage tendencies when the restraints of society no longer tame human primal instincts.

One such field that explores the instinctual nature of the human psyche is Evolutionary Psychology. The research goal of this concentration is to discover and understand the design of the human mind. The theory presented on this topic is that the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This idea suggests that modern man has evolved from his primal ancestors in mental design in a Darwinian manner of a “natural selection” of sorts. A major intellectual in this field of Evolutionary Psychology was William James, the author of Principles of Psychology. In his work, James uncovers the question of human “instincts”. He defines them as “specialized neural circuits that are common to every member of a species and are the product of that species’ evolutionary history”. It then are these ‘circuits” as referred to by James, that constitute “human nature”. Upon further understanding of “human nature”, we can then formulate a better hypothesis as to what modern man’s course of action might be upon insertion into the jungle.

In a debate on humans’ superiority over animals as far as displaying more “reason” in their actions, James argues that humans are not in fact ruled by “reason”, but are governed by even more “instincts” than animals. This deduction might suggest that upon reinsertion into a primal environment, humans would be even more prone to resorting back to their “instincts” as uncivilized beings. Thus, we learn from theories in Evolutionary Psychology that human “instincts” are the underlying driving forces to human action that are more potent than the restraints imposed upon man by society, and even more prevalent in “human nature” than in the daily conduct of animals apart from humans.

Another field in which the distinction between civilized and primitive man is discussed is that of Social Psychology. Much emphasis is placed upon the effects of societal laws on the governance of human action. A major psychologist in this domain was William McDougall(1871-1938). In his work, An Introduction to Social Psychology, McDougall exposes various theories on the distinct aspects of civilized and primitive human tendencies:

“We may accept Bagehot’s...

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