- Evolutionary psychology as a metatheory for the social sciences: How to gather interdisciplinary evidence for a psychological adaptation
- Review of General Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 19 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Evolutionary psychology has been proposed as a new metatheory for the social sciences (Buss, 1995). Evolutionary psychology is an approach that emphasizes the evolutionary background of psychological phenomena (e.g., cognition, motivation, perception), with the expectation that knowledge about this background enhances our understanding of the working of the present human mind. This proposal has met with both enthusiasm and criticism. An important criticism is that it is hard, if possible at all, to find empirical evidence for a hypothesized psychological adaptation. This criticism has been addressed with the proposal to build a nomological network of evidence around a hypothesized psychological adaptation (Schmitt & Pilcher, 2004). In this article, we show that it is possible to use this nomological network of evidence to support the hypothesis that face recognition is an adaptation. We reviewed the literature on face recognition from different disciplines (psychology, medicine, neuroscience, genetics, primatology, and anthropology) and conclude that there is an extensive network of evidence for the proposed hypothesis. We argue that building a nomological network of evidence is a promising way to address several criticisms of evolutionary psychology, and that such a network can serve as a metatheoretical framework for the social sciences.
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