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Evolutionary developmental psychology

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Evolutionary developmental psychology, (or EDP), is the application of the basic principles of Darwinian evolution, particularly natural selection, to explain contemporary human development. It involves the study of the genetic and environmental mechanisms that underlie the universal development of social and cognitive competencies and the evolved epigenetic (gene-environment interactions) processes that adapt these competencies to local conditions; it assumes that not only are behaviors and cognitions that characterize adults the product of natural selection pressures operating over the course of evolution, but so also are characteristics of children's behaviors and minds.

Some basic assumptions of EDPEdit

  • 1. All evolutionarily-influenced characteristics develop, and this requires examining not only the functioning of these characteristics in adults but also their ontogeny.
  • 3. Development is constrained by both genetic and environmental factors.
  • 4. An extended childhood is needed in which to learn the complexities of human social communities.
  • 5. Many aspects of childhood serve as preparations for adulthood and were selected over the course of evolution (deferred adaptations).
  • 6. Some characteristics of infants and children were selected to serve an adaptive function at specific times in development and not as preparations for adulthood (ontogenetic adaptations).
  • 7. Children show a high degree of plasticity, or flexibility, and the ability to adapt to different contexts.


See alsoEdit

References & BibliographyEdit

Key texts – BooksEdit

  • Bjorklund, D.F., & Pellegrini, A.D. (2002). The Origins of Human Nature: Evolutionary Developmental Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1557988781
  • Burgess, R. L. & MacDonald (Eds.) (2004). Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Development, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 0761927905

Additional material – BooksEdit

Key texts – PapersEdit

  • Bjorklund, D.F., & Pellegrini, A.D. (2000). Child Development and Evolutionary Psychology.Child Development, 71, 1687-1708. Full text
  • MacDonald, K., & Hershberger, S. (2005). Theoretical Issues in the Study of Evolution and Development. In R. Burgess and K. MacDonald (Eds.), Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Development, 2nd edition, pp. 21–72. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Full text

Additional material - PapersEdit

  • Barrett, H. C. (2004). Cognitive development and the understanding of animal behavior. In Ellis, B., & Bjorklund, D. (Eds.) Origins of the social mind. New York: Guilford. Full text
  • Boyce, W. T., & Ellis, B. J. (2005). Biological sensitivity to context: I. An evolutionary-developmental theory of the origins and functions of stress reactivity. Development & Psychopathology, 17, 271-301. Full text
  • Ellis, B.J., Essex, M.J., & Boyce, W.T. (2005). Biological sensitivity to context: II. Empirical explorations of an evolutionary-developmental theory. Development & Psychopathology 17, 303-328. Full text
  • Flinn M.V. (2004). Culture and developmental plasticity: Evolution of the social brain. In: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Development. K. MacDonald and R. L. Burgess (eds.), chapter 3, pp. 73-98. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Full text
  • Flinn, M.V. & Ward, C.V. (2004). Ontogeny and Evolution of the Social Child. In: Origins of the social mind: Evolutionary psychology and child development, B. Ellis & D. Bjorklund (Eds.), chapter 2, pp. 19-44. London: Guilford Press. Full text
  • Geary, D. C. (2005). Folk knowledge and academic learning. In B. J. Ellis & D. F. Bjorklund (Eds.), Origins of the social mind (pp. 493-519). New York: Guilford Publications. Full text
  • Geary, D. C. (2004). Evolution and cognitive development. In R. Burgess & K. MacDonald (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human development (pp. 99-133). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Full text
  • Geary, D. C., Byrd-Craven, J., Hoard, M. K., Vigil, J., & Numtee, C. (2003). Evolution and development of boys’ social behavior. Developmental Review, 23, 444-470. Full text
  • MacDonald, K. (2005). Personality, Evolution, and Development. In R. Burgess and K. MacDonald (Eds.), Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Development, 2nd edition, pp. 207–242. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Full text
  • Maestripieri, D. & Roney, J.R. (2006). Evolutionary developmental psychology: Contributions from comparative research with nonhuman primates. Developmental Review, 26, 120-137. Full text
  • Vigil, J. M., Geary, D. C., & Byrd-Craven, J. (2005). A life history assessment of early childhood sexual abuse in women. Developmental Psychology, 41, 553-561. Full text
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