Understanding the lessons of evolution can help us lead richer lives today.
Any good framework for understanding human behavior should have applied potential. A good psychological theoretical framework should provide a road map to how we can improve such domains of the human condition as physical health, mental health, education, government, and so forth. I think that a good framework for understanding human behavior should provide some kind of personal roadmap. In other words, a good theoretical perspective in psychology should help us understand not only our broader social world, but also our personal world—and help us live a better life.
As I’ve written extensively, evolutionary psychology has the capacity to help us gain enormous insights into the human condition (Geher, 2014). Following are 10 ways that evolutionary psychology, which has emerged as the single most powerful explanatory framework in the behavioral sciences, can help guide our personal lives in positive ways:
1. Follow human universal moral codes.
Most humans are explicitly religious (Wilson, 2002). Amazingly, in spite of all the conspicuous differences among various religions, there are extraordinary universals among them. As David Sloan Wilson famously pointed out, all religions serve to encourage people to sacrifice their selfish interests for the good of the broader group. Along with this general tendency are universal moral codes—codes that not only exist across many religious groups, but also seem to typify human psychology regardless of whether someone is “religious” or not (Trivers, 1985). Across all human groups, inflicting costs on innocent others is frowned upon. So is taking more than one’s fair share of a resource, and contributing less than everyone else in a group. These facts, which characterize our “groupish” species across the globe, help us understand human evolved moral psychology. That knowledge can help us thrive in the many group contexts in which we find ourselves.