Differences between evolutionary psychology and evolutionary psychology

In the corridors of psychology faculties in Spain and Latin America, you can see, every day of the week, a series of people wandering completely disoriented through the corridors and classrooms. They are mostly young students, but there is something in their gaze that has nothing to do with the expression of self-sufficiency and bravery one might expect – sparkling against twenty.

What is the reason for this kind of inner tension? Quite simply: his knowledge of psychology is based on something that is essentially BAD; this is why there are certain ideas and concepts which they cannot understand no matter how hard they try. There is something that escapes them. And don’t these poor demons still know that the Evolutionary psychology and the Evolutionary psychology They are not the same.

Fortunately, sooner or later a saving teacher always arrives who ends up clarifying these concepts in what will be one of the short lessons that will benefit him the most during graduation. However, the difference between evolutionary and evolutionary psychology is best understood as soon as possible (and preferably before you fail an exam to ignore it), as the two deal with totally different things and in fact it is not clear that evolutionary psychology is a branch of psychology in itself.

To fully understand the relationship between the two, it’s good to deepen a little more a concept that both appeal to: evolution.

Two basic types of evolution

The concept of “evolution” is abstract enough to be used to explain a wide variety of processes, but fundamentally it defines a development through which different changes take place more or less gradually. In the fields of study of psychology, however, evolution generally refers to two essentially different processes: the changes that occur in the development of an organism and the changes that occur in the form and behavior of species. , from generation to generation.

Phylogeny and ontogeny

When we talk about the first type of evolution, which refers to individual organisms that develop from their zygote form to reach old age, we are talking about ontogeny, While when we speak of the process of change between generations and of successive species, we speak of their phylogeny.

The basic idea that serves to distinguish evolutionary psychology from evolutionary psychology is as follows: Evolutionary psychology studies the psychology of human beings based on their ontogenetic development, While evolutionary psychology studies human behavior in light of the evolution of species, that is, in light of their phylogenetic development.

The object of study of evolutionary psychology is the patterns of behavior and subjectivation that are associated with each phase of a human being’s growth, while evolutionary psychology, rather than offering a field of study, proposes an approach based on what we know about the evolutionary history of populations hence his lineage proceeds to get assumptions about how people behave.

Where does the confusion come from?

This is a problem with the translation into Spanish of words used in the dominant academic environment, which uses English. What we know today as evolutionary psychology was originally called developmental psychology, which means that in this language there is hardly any confusion.

However, when the first researchers started to talk about evolutionary psychology, there was already a very similar term in Spanish for the previous branch of psychology. Thus, in Spain and Latin America, the word “evolutionist” is used to distinguish it from evolution without giving up its fundamental meaning, which is related to a process of change.

Bibliographical references:

  • Bunge, M. and Ardila, R. (2002). Philosophy of psychology. Mexico: 21st century.
  • Papalia, D. and Wendkos, S. (1992). Psychology. Mexico: McGraw-Hill.
  • Triglia, Adrián; Regader, Bertrand; García-Allen, Jonathan (2016). Psychologically speaking. Paidós.

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