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2.7: The Evolutionary Perspective

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    Charles Darwin developed the evolutionary theory which was primarily meant to explain why there are so many different kinds of species. This theory is also important for psychology because it explains how species were designed by evolutionary forces and what their goals are. By knowing the goals of species it is possible to explain and predict their behaviour.

    The process of evolution involves several components, for instance natural selection – which is a feedback process that 'chooses' among 'alternative designs' on the basis of deciding how good the respective modulation is. As a result of this natural selection we find adaption. This is a process that constantly tests the variations among individuals in relation to the environment. If adaptions are useful they get passed on; if not they’ll just be an unimportant variation.

    Another component of the evolutionary process is sexual selection, i.e. increasing of certain sex characteristics, which give individuals the ability to rival with other individuals of the same sex or an increased ability to attract individuals of the opposite sex.

    Altruism is a further component of the evolutionary process, which will be explained in more detail in the following chapter Evolutionary Perspective on Social Cognitions.

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