Evolutionary psychology: controversies, questions, prospects, and limitations

J. Confer, J. Easton, Diana Fleischman, C. Goetz, D. Lewis, C. Perilloux, D. Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evolutionary psychology has emerged over the past 15 years as a major theoretical perspective, generating an increasing volume of empirical studies and assuming a larger presence within psychological science. At the same time, it has generated critiques and remains controversial among some psychologists. Some of the controversy stems from hypotheses that go against traditional psychological theories; some from empirical findings that may have disturbing implications; some from misunderstandings about the logic of evolutionary psychology; and some from reasonable scientific concerns about its underlying framework. This article identifies some of the most common concerns and attempts to elucidate evolutionary psychology’s stance pertaining to them. These include issues of testability and falsifiability; the domain specificity versus domain generality of psychological mechanisms; the role of novel environments as they interact with evolved psychological circuits; the role of genes in the conceptual structure of evolutionary psychology; the roles of learning, socialization, and culture in evolutionary psychology; and the practical value of applied evolutionary psychology. The article concludes with a discussion of the limitations of current evolutionary psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-126
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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