Robert Deaner, Grand Valley State University

 

Robert Deaner, Grand Valley State University

Sage 4101

April 22, 2009 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

 

Abstract:

Although evolutionary theory (ET) is accepted by most social scientists, many vehemently resist its application to human behavior.

In the first part of this talk, we argue that this resistance may be due to the transmission of inaccurate information about ET and its implications. We derived predictions from this hypothesis and tested them by coding widely-used social science textbooks focusing on gender differences. Several predictions were supported, including that more popular textbooks contained more errors in their portrayal of ET and that textbooks with more errors showed more hostility towards ET and its proponents. These results indicate that the goal of cross-disciplinary integration is being obstructed by a cycle of hostility towards, and ignorance of, ET. In the second part of the talk, we consider sport fandom as a case study of how an explicitly evolutionary perspective can provide a more satisfying account of a psychological phenomenon than has been offered previously.

Specifically, we hypothesize that fandom is the byproduct of an evolved disposition to form coalitions with others, especially men, in the context of small-scale warfare. We derived predictions from this hypothesis and tested them by administering surveys to undergraduates.

Several predictions were supported, including that fandom correlated positively with the endorsement of group-related moral concerns and that, compared to female fans, male fans possessed greater knowledge about the rules of team sports relative to their knowledge about the outcomes. These results collectively illustrate the value of an evolutionary perspective in explaining human social behavior.

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The Significance of Red Sox Nation:  An Evolutionary Perspective on Vicarious Identification with Sports Teams

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