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Over the past few decades, evolutionary psychology has shed light on such features of the human experience as mating, love, religion, aggression, warfare, physical health, mental health, and more. The field of positive psychology has progressed along a parallel trajectory, using behavioral science techniques to help our understanding of human thriving at the individual and community levels. Positive Evolutionary Psychology is dedicated to the integration of positive and evolutionary psychology, with an eye toward using Darwinian-inspired concepts to help advance our understanding of human thriving. This Element describes the basic ideas of this new approach to behavioral science as well as examples that dip into various aspects of the human experience, including such topics as health, education, friendships, love, and more–all with an eye toward providing a roadmap for the application of Darwinian principles to better understanding human thriving and the good life.
From an evolutionary perspective, psychological factors that bear on reproductive success are of particular importance as such factors directly pertain to Darwin’s bottom line. The psychology surrounding human mating, then, is particularly important from a Darwinian perspective. Mating intelligence is a construct that integrates work on mating psychology with work on intelligence. This broad construct is divided into two general sets of abilities: cognitive mating mechanisms (such as the ability to detect romantic interest on the part of a potential mate) and mental fitness indicators (which are outward behavioral displays of intelligence that facilitate successful courtship).
Different terms have described quick responding, processing speed, cognitive speed, psychometric speed, and perceptual speed. Methodology derived from speeded tasks assumes that cognitive processes intervening between stimulus and response can at least be relatively isolated by appropriate manipulation of experimental conditions. The most comprehensive body of data assembled to test the theory that processes responsible for speed on elementary cognitive tasks (ECTs) are the same as those responsible for complex intelligent actions from Jensen's studies of simple and choice reaction times (RTs). Although the extent to which inspection time (IT) and RT measure the same or different processes is still an open question, there is compelling evidence that correlation between IQ and processing speed estimated by IT or choice RT reflects shared genetic influences. There is considerable evidence that white matter lesions are associated with slower processing speed and poorer performance on tests of attention and memory.
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