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Contemporary evolutionary psychology and the evolution of intelligence

  • David M. G. Lewis (a1), Laith Al-Shawaf (a2) and Mike Anderson (a1)


Burkart et al.'s impressive synthesis will serve as a valuable resource for intelligence research. Despite its strengths, the target article falls short of offering compelling explanations for the evolution of intelligence. Here, we outline its shortcomings, illustrate how these can lead to misguided conclusions about the evolution of intelligence, and suggest ways to address the article's key questions.



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Confer, J. C., Easton, J. A., Fleischman, D. S., Goetz, C. D., Lewis, D. M. G., Perilloux, C. & Buss, D. M. (2010) Evolutionary psychology: Controversies, questions, prospects, and limitations. American Psychologist 65:110–26.
Henrich, J. & Gil-White, F. J. (2001) The evolution of prestige: Freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior 22:165–96.
Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2015) An alternative to domain-general or domain-specific frameworks for theorizing about human evolution and ontogenesis. AIMS Neuroscience 2(2):91104. Available at:
Lewis, D. M. G., Al-Shawaf, L., Conroy-Beam, D., Asao, K. & Buss, D. M. (2017) Evolutionary psychology: A how-to guide. American Psychologist 72(4):353–73.
Prokosch, M. D., Yeo, R. A. & Miller, G. F. (2005) Intelligence tests with higher g loadings show higher correlations with body symmetry: Evidence for a general fitness factor mediated by developmental stability. Intelligence 33:203–13.


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