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Deserving help? A critical look at Evolutionary Political Psychology  

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04/07/2019 8:27 am  

 

Deserving help? A critical look at Evolutionary Political Psychology

 

 

Abstract: Evolutionary political psychology assumes that instinct-based political behavior can be deduced from the survival benefits that would flow from behavior in small-scale communities prevalent in the early evolution of humans. The theory is however marred by a simplistic understanding of evolutionary theory that was abandoned 20 years ago. The single example that is presented of an evolved political instinct, the deservingness heuristic, is not deduced from the theory, and the empirical data that is claimed to verify the political consequences of the instinct do not support the theory when properly analyzed. Thus, the theory has neither theoretical nor empirical foundation.

Introduction

A new research field, evolutionary political psychology, has been formulated by Michael Bang Petersen of Aarhus University. I will show that it rests on outdated theory and flawed data analysis and therefore essentially has neither theoretical nor empirical foundation.

Bang Petersen has laid out his theory in an eloquent and lengthy paper (Petersen, 2015). Fundamental to the theory is the assumption that the presence of instinct-based political behavior can be deduced from the survival benefits that would flow from behavior in small-scale communities on the African Savannah in the Pleistocene. Essentially there are two assumptions: 1) that old instincts shape the political opinions of present-day citizens, and 2) that these old instincts can be discovered by deduction from evolutionary theory.

How this would work in practice is illustrated by the so-called deservingness heuristic described in the paper “Who deserves help” (Petersen, Sznycer, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2012). The deservingness heuristic is based on the instinct for helping people who are in true need of help and punishing those who try to exploit the social group’s willingness to help without actually being in need. In simple terms, the hypothesis is that the instinct for helping those who are in need and punish those who are trying to free-wheel shapes modern citizens’ political opinions about welfare. Bang Petersen et al. present 3 empirical analyses to support the hypothesis and conclude that the hypothesis was confirmed. In the following I will show that this is not the case.

The theoretical foundation

Let us examine the theoretical foundation first, the idea that the instincts can be discovered by deduction from evolutionary theory. Bang Petersen makes at least three claims regarding evolutionary theory which are not tenable (Petersen, 2015):

Claim 1: All species-typical traits are the results of adaptive evolution

Bang Petersen claims the following:

as with any species-typical feature, the deservingness heuristic must necessarily have its origins in ancestral environments and, in order to be selected, have carried out particular functions within these environments” ((Petersen, 2015), p. 53, my emphasis).

This means that we can identify a trait in a species, for example the ability to show compassion, and explain it by the evolutionary pressure that caused it to develop, in the actual case the reproductive upside of reciprocal sharing among members of the tribe.

As is customary in evolutionary psychology, Bang Petersen tells a long tale with many details about the social life of our ancestors at a not too well-defined time in the evolutionary trajectory. This is of course interesting and fascinating to think about, but from a scientific point of view the obvious shortcoming is that we know next to nothing about the social life of our ancestors, and every evolutionary psychologist is free to tell his or her own story that fits the data – or if it turns out not to fit, make up another. But if such revisions can readily be made, what is then the contribution of the story-telling about the Pleistocene Savannah to our understanding of the instinct? None, as far as I can see.

More critically, the theory that any species-typical trait has its own evolutionary explanation is an extreme adaptationist position which was buried by Gould and Lewontin in 1979 in their seminal Spandrel-article (Gould & Lewontin, 2007). Gould and Lewontin argued that many phenotypical characteristics are not adaptations but byproducts of adaptively evolved characteristics. Gould took this viewpoint a step further and suggested that whereas there is little doubt that the size of the human brain came about as an adaptation, most higher mental functions may be byproducts of the versatility that came with having a large brain (Gould, 2007). Whether this is true or not will be difficult to establish, and that is exactly my point. The controversy isn’t going to go away. Some traits are adaptations, some are mere by-products of something else, and disentangling this will remain a major challenge for each and every trait under study. Buss et al. set this straight in their discussion of the Spandrel-paper in 1998:

“the hypothesis that something is a byproduct, just like the hypothesis that something is an adaptation, must be subjected to rigorous standards of scientific confirmation and potential falsification” ((Buss, Hazelton, Shackelford, Bleske, & Wakefield, 1998), p. 537).

Cosmides and Tooby clearly recognize this problem:

“One can identify an aspect of the phenotype as an adaptation by showing that (1) it has many design features that are complexly specialized for solving an adaptive problem, (2) these phenotypic properties are unlikely to have arisen by chance alone, and (3) they are not better explained as the by-product of mechanisms designed to solve some alternative adaptive problem”, ((Cosmides & Tooby, 2015), p. 13).

This important insight is lost for Bang Petersen which is all the more surprising considering that he has co-authored papers with Cosmides and Tooby, e.g.(Petersen et al., 2012).

 

Claim 2. All potential reproductive upsides have given rise to adaptations in modern man

Whereas claim #1 above is about retrospectively explaining observed characteristics in modern man, Petersen is upping the ante and goes into the business of prediction: from assumed reproductive upsides in previous times to the existence of hitherto unknown traits in modern man.

Here’s a quote:

 “for each ancestral political problem, we should expect the existence of heuristics that could be activated and applied in the context of modern mass politics. Problems relating to the formation of coalitions, investment in valuable individuals, caring for the sick, avoiding disease, waging war on outgroups, seeking status, promoting self-interest, constraining the behaviors of others, and a range of other challenges must all have selected for relevant heuristics” ((Petersen, 2015), p. 59).

So, whatever reproductive advantage we can imagine must have given rise to an adaptively evolved characteristic. Even at face value this is naïve, but let me go though some arguments all the same.

Evolution has created incredibly sophisticated biological phenomena: the eye, the echolocation mechanisms of bats and whales, the immune system, the human brain. We marvel at these structures that seem to be well nigh perfect, and rightly so. What we tend to forget, and what Bang Petersen ignores completely or simply does not know, is that evolution has also created a large number of half baked solution or no solutions at all.

Around 2.5 million years ago one of our ancestors found out how to make a primitive stone tool. This stone axe version 1.0 stood as the only tool for more than a million years and must have given the possessors of the tool-processing technique clear reproductive advantages. Still I have never sensed the slightest instinctive impulse in myself for shaping stone tools, let alone any instinct for getting it right when I tried to hit one stone with another. It's easy to imagine why such an instinct did not develop even if the first tool was made by a handyman spurred by a brain mutation: the technique may have spread by cultural transmission much faster than by spreading of genes. Suffice it to say that according to claim #2 an instinct should have developed, but none did.

We should also remember that even adaptively evolved solutions are not always optimal. For one thing, the evolution may be restricted by the previous evolutionary history, so-called cladistic constraint. For example, tetrapods do not have wings; either you can get forelimbs or wings, not both, although undoubtedly there would be advantages to the latter. There is any number of such cladistic constraints. Further, adaptation to one reproductive upside may impede adaptation to another, in other words there may be trade-offs between adaptations.

These problems are not too troublesome in the explanation of observed characteristics in modern humans - at least we need not doubt whether there is anything to be explained, and the explanation needs not assume that the solution is optimal. But when it comes to predicting characteristics from alleged reproductive upsides there is no knowing whether a solution has developed, and, if it has, what it looks like. Claim #2 is simply false.

 

Claim 3. We can identify the adaptations in modern man by thinking about the reproductive upsides that must have existed

Quote:

"... one can use evolutionary theory to construct testable hypotheses on the structure of representational and motivational systems by identifying the representational and motivational functions needed to be carried out in order to solve a particular adaptive problem ….. This is essentially the contribution of evolutionary theory to the study of human psychology" ((Petersen, 2015), p. 24).

At first sight, construing testable hypotheses from an overarching theory would seem to be a sound scientific principle. After all this is what physicist do when they use theory to predict phenomena that are later confirmed in experiments; Higgs’ boson was identified in an experiment with the Large Hadron Collider 50 years after its existence was first predicted. Why not in evolutionary theory?

The reason was given above: Evolutionary theory is useful in explaining evolution that has happened, but predicting evolved traits - even on the basis of sound data about the starting condition of the system - is not within the theory's reach, and predicting evolution from a poorly known starting condition a couple of million years back is meaningless. At most such an exercise can generate hypotheses but there is a high likelihood that the pursuit of such hypotheses will be a wild-goose chase.

Why make predictions from evolutionary theory anyway? The theory of evolution isn’t in need of confirmation, so what’s the point of predicting something and then seeing whether it was correct? It seems to me that Petersen is reversing the logic of scientific discovery: whereas the usual logic is that the theory (quantum physics for example) predicts the existence of a phenomenon (Higgs’ boson for example), and finding the boson corroborates the theory, in Bang Petersen’s optics the opposite applies to evolutionary political psychology, the theory proves the prediction:

“we are no longer confined to our own fallible intuitions when considering the structure of political heuristics. Instead, we can utilize one of the best validated and most powerful scientific theories of all times to understand the heuristics used by modern citizens: the theory of evolution by natural selection. . . . . Many discoveries of political heuristics await, and the key to their discovery is the dissection of the ancestral, adaptive problems of politics.” ((Petersen, 2015), p. 56 and 59)

True, the theory of evolution by natural selection is one of the most powerful scientific theories of all times, but what it is powerful at is explaining things after the fact, whereas prediction is virtually out of the question. Again, Buss has an insight that Petersen does not:

“There is nothing about the fact that a hypothesis is explicitly evolutionary that makes it virtuous or more likely to be correct” ((Buss et al., 1998), p. 543).

Whereas Buss et al. emphasize the importance of rigorous standards of scientific testing, Petersen proposes to use the theory to add credence to hypotheses about evolved instincts.

In summary, the theory of evolutionary political psychology as formulated by Bang Petersen, is founded on an adaptationist version of evolutionary theory which is obviously wrong and was abandoned even by evolutionary psychologists 20 years ago.

 

The empirical foundation

The above theorizing is accompanied by an example of one instinct and its derived political opinions (Petersen et al., 2012). In a sense it is quite simple: during the many years of evolution under the conditions of the Pleistocene savannah, humans lived in small social groups whose social interaction for example must have entailed care for those who were in true need of care, and debunking and condemnation of those who tried to free-wheel without being in need. According to the above version of evolutionary theory, this must have led to the evolution of an instinct for making the distinction between those who deserved help and those who did not. The presence of this instinct is in turn claimed to influence political opinion of present-day humans. Three sets of data are presented in the paper (Petersen et al., 2012) as confirmations of specific predictions of such instinct-governed political opinions.

The first thing to note about this example is that the instinct for compassion or cheater detection / fairness is well known and can be observed in primates as well as other animals. So the example does not illustrate that deduction from evolutionary theory can lead to identification of new instincts.

Next, let us look at the empirical data that is professed to show that instincts influence the political opinions of modern humans.

World Value Survey (WVS) data

I will start with the simplest study, the WVS data. Petersen et al. claim that “Analyses of cross-cultural data from the World Values Survey show that the perception that poverty is caused by laziness — i.e., a lack of motivation to put in effort — is a universal driver of opposition to government efforts to reduce poverty”.

The idea is that if humans have an instinct for identifying those who are truly in need of help and those who just fake, then one would expect a universal pattern of responses to the following two questions from the World Value Survey:

e131 “Why are people in need”, with reply options

“Poor because of laziness and lack of will power” 

“Poor because of an unfair society”

e133 “How much is the government doing against poverty” with reply options

“Too much”

“About the right amount”

“Too little”

The first question would be the activation of the instinct, the second would be the political opinion about welfare. The expectation is that a high proportion of the respondents who answer “Poor because of laziness” to the first question answers that the government does “Too much” to the second. Such is at least Petersen et al.’s argument.

Petersen et al. analyze the data for these two questions and conclude that it is indeed so that in all the countries that participated in the survey, the expected association was observed. This conclusion is, however, not supported by the data, as I will now show.

 

Figure 1. The analysis of World Value Survey data presented by Petersen et al. (2012)

The effect size on the y-axis is the correlation coefficient.

What we have here is an ordering of the countries by the magnitude of the correlation between the answers to questions e131 and e133. Petersen et al. emphasize that all “correlations except for the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are significant at the .001-level. The correlation for the Dominican Republic is significant at the .05-level, while the p-value for Venezuela is p = .67”.

The first thing to note about the Figure is the large difference between countries. Correlation coefficients range from almost nil to 0.6. This should already raise doubts about the universality of the findings.

The real problem is, however, a different one: the correlation coefficient is not an appropriate measure to elucidate the hypothesis.

I have taken pains to download the data from the WVS website, which is hereby acknowledged for making the data available (World Value Survey, 2015). I was able to reproduce the numbers given by Petersen et al. and the sequence of the countries in the Figure except that Brazil was not in my dataset, whereas Montenegro was and the overall number of respondents was slightly less. I attribute this to slightly different versions of the data being used which should have no impact on the conclusions.

Table 1 shows the whole dataset presented in a simple contingency table.

Table 1. World Value Survey, 2015. All respondents

 

How much is government doing against poverty?

Why are people in need?

Too much

N (%)

About the right amount

N (%)

Too little

N (%)

Poor because of laziness and lack of power

1899 (11%)

6802 (40%)

8273 (49%)

Poor because of unfair society

821 (2%)

5597 (14%)

34329 (84%)

 

It is plain to see that among the respondents who think that people are poor because of laziness or lack of will power, 11% are opposed to what government does against poverty. The remaining 89% think that the government does the right amount or too little. This effectively buries the hypothesis that lack of motivation to put in effort is a universal driver of opposition to government efforts to reduce poverty. The correlation coefficient is 0.37 and the p-value very low, but this is of little interest since it is the percentage in the upper left cell which is the relevant one to elucidate the hypothesis.

Behind each country column in the Figure there is a country-specific table like the one above. Table 2 shows the data for the Dominican Republic.

Table 2. World Value Survey, 2015. Dominican Republic

 

How much is government doing against poverty?

Why are people in need?

Too much

N (%)

About the right amount

N (%)

Too little

N (%)

Poor because of laziness and lack of power

0 (0%)

17 (17%)

82 (83%)

Poor because of unfair society

2 (0.7%)

18 (6.3%)

264 (93%)

 

Not one of the 99 persons who responded that poverty is due to people’s laziness thought that the government did too much. Still Petersen et al. take the data to support their theory. The computer has cranked out a correlation of 0.13 and a p-value of 0.011 which is not wrong but goes to show that the correlation coefficient is completely irrelevant.

Petersen et al. stress that the correlation is found in all countries, opposing the theory which for example “links the importance of deservingness judgments to the individualistic culture of Americans”. It may be worth looking at Table 3 for USA, and contrast it to the Dominican Republic.

Table 3. World Value Survey, 2015. USA

 

How much is government doing against poverty?

Why are people in need?

Too much

N (%)

About the right amount

N (%)

Too little

N (%)

Poor because of laziness and lack of power

345 (50%)

190 (27%)

158 (23%)

Poor because of unfair society

46 (10%)

110 (24%)

298 (66%)

 

In the USA 50% of the respondents who answer “Poor because of laziness” think “The government does too much”. The 5 highest ranking countries are USA (50%), Australia (27%), Philippines (23%), Germany (21%), New Zealand (19%), and the lowest five are Dominican Republic (0%), Colombia (0%), Albania (0.58%), Moldova (1.6%), and Latvia (1.8%). 39 countries are below 12%.

Whereas Petersen et al. conclude that the data show universality, if anything the data show that some kind of deservingness judgment rule could be in operation in a few high-ranking countries but not in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and a number of other countries.

I conclude that Petersen et al. present an inadequate analysis of the data, and that the simplest tabulation shows that their conclusion is flawed and strongly biased.

 

 

Study 2 of (Petersen et al., 2012)

I will now turn to Study 2 of the paper. Here the prediction of the theory is a bit more convoluted, but I will try to explain it as simple as possible: if one let volunteers imagine various poor people, for example one who is lazy and one who has just been unfortunate, this should activate their instinct about deservingness and they should then respond to questions about what the government should do in accordance with the instinct that was just activated. If they imagined a needy person, they should show political preference for more social welfare, if they imagined a lazy person, they should show political preference for less social welfare. A group that was not asked to imagine anything particular, would be able to serve as control group.

The experimental groups were created by asking respondents to “Imagine a man who receives social welfare benefits. He has never had a regular job, but he is fit and healthy. He is not motivated to get a job” (experimental group Lazy), “Imagine a man who receives social welfare benefits. He has always had a regular job, but has now been the victim of a work-related injury. He is very motivated to get back to work again” (experimental group Unlucky), and “Imagine a man who receives social welfare benefits” (Control group).

The outcome of interest was answers to the question “The activation requirements should be made stricter for him”. This should already make one wonder whether the experiment is actually relevant to the prediction. I shall return to this.

The respondent’s general political attitude (in this study termed “ideology”) was assessed with the following questions: “The state has too little control over private investments,” “In politics, one should strive to provide all with the same economic conditions,” and “High incomes should be taxed more heavily than is currently the case.” It is an important detail that the respondent’s general political attitude was assessed in the questionnaire before the welfare recipient was described to the respondent.

The study can thus be described as a parallel-group, interventional design, with two intervention groups and one control. This distinguishes it from the other studies in the paper which are all cross-sectional.

Michael Bang Petersen has kindly made the data from Study 2 available to me and has explained a few things which were not evident from the article. As with the World Values Study, I have taken a simple approach and made a tabulation which does not rely on too many assumptions, see below. The Stricter Requirements variable is the support for stricter requirements grouped so that the responses “Totally agree” and “Partially agree” are in the “Agree” group, and the rest in the “Disagree / neutral” group. The Ideology variable has been divided into high (called “Egalitarian”) and low (“Inegalitarian”) so as to get roughly equally sized groups. Then I have simply made a contingency table for each of the 3 groups (Table 4-6).

Table 4. Study 2, Experimental group: Lazy welfare recipient

 

Activation requirements should be made stricter

 

Ideology

Disagree / neutral

N (%)

Agree

N (%)

Total

Inegalitarian

9 (20.9%)

34 (79.1%)

43

Egalitarian

6 (22.2%)

21 (77.8%)

27

 

15

55

70

 

 

Table 5. Study 2, Experimental group: Unlucky welfare recipient

 

Activation requirements should be made stricter

 

Ideology

Disagree / neutral

N (%)

Agree

N (%)

Total

Inegalitarian

39 (86.7%)

6 (13.3%)

45

Egalitarian

20 (76.9%)

6 (23.1%)

26

 

59

12

71

 

 

Table 6. Study 2, Experimental group: Control

 

Activation requirements should be made stricter

 

Ideology

Disagree / neutral

N (%)

Agree

N (%)

Total

Inegalitarian

13 (33.3%)

26 (66.7%)

39

Egalitarian

22 (81.5%)

5 (18.5%)

27

 

35

31

66

 

These simple tables bring out the message that the lazy person should be subjected to a job activation program, the unlucky should not – irrespective of the respondents’ ideology. With the control situation it is different. Here the respondents’ ideology has a remarkably strong influence.

I do not suppose Petersen et al. will disagree with this interpretation. They note “that the effect of ideology is insignificant in the two treatments” (p. 408), and seem to acknowledge the role of ideology in shaping the attitude towards welfare recipients in the absence of relevant input cues to the “evolved mental programs”, i.e. the instinct. 

But now comes the really strange part. Study 2 is claimed to demonstrate that “when the cues surrounding mass politics fit the input conditions of the emotion programs that guide our everyday behavior, these emotions start providing guidance in political opinion formation” (p. 409), or in clear text: when our instincts are fed with the right input (here: welfare recipients willingness to make an effort), the instincts help shape political opinion formation.

This conclusion does not follow from the study results for the simple reason that the analyzed endpoint, agreement that activation requirements should be made stricter for specific persons, cannot be construed as a political opinion about welfare policy.

If Petersen et al. were to counter that cases exist where stories about lazy welfare recipients publicized in the media (“Dovne Robert” in the Danish media) have had consequences for lawmakers’ policies and actions, that would amount to conceding to the criticism that their study does not make the connection between activation of the instinct and opinions about welfare policies.

It is no surprise that the instinct for social fairness can be activated. Petersen et al. promised to show how the instinct can lead to policy opinion, and that is exactly where the study falls short.

 

Study 1, and its relation to Study 2

Whereas Study 2 is an intervention study looking at the input to and output from the instinct, Study 1 looks directly at general welfare opinion as an outcome. One might say that it covers what Study 2 did not, namely the link between the instincts and the political opinion; it tests, in the words of the article, “whether social emotions influence welfare opinions”.

The social emotions were measured with the question “How do you feel, when you hear or read about people on social welfare?” Compassionate emotions towards welfare recipients were associated with support for welfare and redistribution, whereas aversive emotions was associated with less support for welfare and redistribution.

The welfare opinion scale was constructed from answers to the questions

“High incomes should be taxed more than is currently the case”

“We should resist the demands for higher welfare benefits from people with low incomes”

“The wealthy should give more money to those who are worst off”

“The government spends too much money on the unemployed”

“The state has too little control over the business world”

“In politics, one should strive to assure the same economic conditions for everyone, regardless of education and employment”

Inspection of the questions makes it clear that this really is general political opinion, not just activation of instinct as in Study 2.

It is also clear that 3 of the questions (“High incomes should be taxed more than is currently the case”, “The state has too little control over the business world”, and “In politics, one should strive to assure the same economic conditions for everyone, regardless of education and employment”) are almost identical to the three that make up the “Ideology” scale in Study 2. The welfare opinion scale of Study 1 measures the same as the ideology scale of study 2!

Although this is likely to escape most readers (as it escaped me for a long time), it cannot have escaped the authors. It is, however, important because it means that what was an independent variable in Study 2 is the dependent variable in Study 1.

Petersen et al. conclude that the “pattern of results provides strong support for the idea that when modern political problems resemble ancestral social problems—as is the case with the welfare issue—the activation of the relevant emotions provides considerable guidance when citizens form opinions”.

One important thing to remember about cross-sectional studies like Study 1 is, however, that they do not imply causality. All they can do is document association, but whether the causal chain goes from A to B or from B to A (or if there is a causal relation at all), cannot be discerned. If we further remember that the welfare opinion scale from Study 1 measures the same as the ideology scale from Study 2, and that the control group in Study 2 was presented with a welfare recipient in neutral terms (“Imagine a man who receives social welfare benefits”) and the respondents in Study 1 were presented with a similarly neutral scenario (“How do you feel, when you hear or read about people on social welfare?”), we have basically the same study set-up in Study 1 as in the control group of Study 2. Yet, in Study 2 the results for the control group was interpreted to mean that ideology has a heavy influence on people’s attitudes towards welfare recipients. In Study 1 the same setup is used to conclude that attitudes towards welfare recipients have a strong influence on ideology.

How can this happen? The explanation is as indicated above: in cross-sectional studies the causality is in the eyes of the beholder. If researchers want to prove causality, a cross sectional study is not the design of choice; and if researchers are trying to prove causality in opposite directions in similar cross-sectional setups, which one are we then to believe – if any?

The clash between Study 1 and Study 2 can also be explained like this: Study 2 shows that activation of the instinct “crowds out” the influence of ideology. Unfortunately, ideology is operationalized in Study 2 in much the same way as political welfare opinion in Study 1, which leads to the conclusion that activation of the instinct crowds out political opinion formation. Which of course it does, but this invalidates the conclusion of Study 1, and leaves us with no link by which instinct influences political welfare opinion.

Could it be countered that the outcome in Study 2, deciding whether a specific person should be sent in activation, is a political opinion formation? Then it would not be activation of the instinct that crowds out the influence of ideology, but the activation of the instinct and the ensuing political opinion formation that crowds out the influence of ideology? This is an alluring argumentation but it faulters on the observation that ideology is operationalized by the same questions as political opinion formation, whereby we end with the absurdity that political opinion formation crowds out political opinion formation.

 

 

Conclusion

To sum up, the analysis and interpretation of the WVS data is flawed and strongly biased towards the authors’ preconceived theory. Study 2 does not address the effect of instincts on welfare opinion but this does not prevent the authors from drawing conclusions from it about this relation. Study 1 is invalidated by the findings of Study 2. The limitations of cross-sectional designs are either unknown to the authors or are being ignored. Causal direction is assumed rather than demonstrated.

In the end, no empirical evidence relating to the translation of the instinctive reactions to political welfare opinion, holds up. The data is being massaged to yield the conclusions that the authors desire based on their preconceived evolutionary theory, but when looking at the data without this bias, there is no evidence in favor of a deservingness heuristic – if there is any evidence at all, it speaks against the existence of one.

The theoretical paper about evolutionary political psychology promises great advances by deducing new political instincts from evolutionary theory, but the professed theory is 20 years outdated and the example of a predicted instinct is not a prediction since it has been known for decades.

If evolutionary political psychology is going to have a raison d’être, the naïve idea that specific political instincts can be deduced from evolutionary theory must be abandoned. That would of course only leave the just-so story telling about the origin of observed instincts, which contributes very little if anything to the understanding of observations. Further, the concept of political opinion must be strengthened – at present this central concept is poorly defined. Not the least, the analysis and interpretation of empirical data must be true to the evidence of the data rather than interpret the data at will as evidence of theory.

 

Reference List

 

Buss, D. M., Hazelton, M. G., Shackelford, T. K., Bleske, A. L., & Wakefield, J. C. (1998). Adaptations, Exaptations, and Spandrels. American Psychologist.

Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (2015). Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer. http://www.cep.ucsb.edu/primer.html .

Gould, S. J. (2007). Challenges to neo-Darwinism and their meaning for a revised view of human conciousness. In The richness of life (pp. 222-237.)  London: Vintage Books.

Gould, S. J. & Lewontin, R. (2007). The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. In The richness of life (pp. 417-437.)  London: Vintage Books.

Petersen, M. B., Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2012). Who deserves help? Evolutionary psychology, social emotions,

and public opinion about welfare. Political Psychology, 33, 395-418.

Petersen, M. B. (2015). Evolutionary Political Psychology: On the Origin and Structure of Heuristics and Biases in Politics. Political Psychology, 36, 45-78.

World Value Survey (2015). World Value Survey 1981-2014 Longitudinal Aggregate v.20150418, 2015. World Values Survey Association (www.worldvaluessurvey.org). Aggregate File Producer: JDSystems Data Archive, Madrid, Spain.


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Out of courtesy the above article was submitted to Political Psychology which did not have any interest in publishing it.


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