Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-k7p5g Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-13T04:47:54.688Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Adaptive misbeliefs are pervasive, but the case for positive illusions is weak

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2010

David Sloan Wilson
Affiliation:
Departments of Biology and Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 12902. dwilson@binghamton.eduhttp://evolution.binghamton.edu/dswilson/
Steven Jay Lynn
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902. stevenlynn100@gmail.comhttp://www2.binghamton.edu/psychology/people/faculty/steven-lynn.html

Abstract

It is a foundational prediction of evolutionary theory that human beliefs accurately approximate reality only insofar as accurate beliefs enhance fitness. Otherwise, adaptive misbeliefs will prevail. Unlike McKay & Dennett (M&D), we think that adaptive belief systems rely heavily upon misbeliefs. However, the case for positive illusions as an example of adaptive misbelief is weak.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Barry, C. T., Frick, P. J. & Killian, A. L. (2003) The relation of narcissism and self-esteem to conduct problems in children: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Clinical and Adolescent Psychology 32:139–52.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baumeister, R. F. (2001) Violent pride: Do people turn violent because of self hate or self love? Scientific American 284(4):96101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I. & Vohs, K. D. (2003) Does high self-esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness, or healthier life styles? Psychological Science in the Public Interest 4:144.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Beyerstein, B., Sampson, W. I., Stojanovic, Z. & Handel, J. (2007) Can mind conquer cancer? In: Tall tales about the mind and brain: Separating fact from fiction, ed. Dallea Sala, S., pp. 440–60. Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coyne, J. C., Pajak, T. F., Harris, J., Konski, A., Movsas, B. & Ang, K. (2007) Emotional well-being does not predict survival in head and neck cancer patients: A radiation therapy oncology group study. Cancer 110:2568–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dennett, D. C. (2006a) Breaking the spell: Religion as a natural phenomenon. Viking/Penguin Press.Google Scholar
Gilbert, D. T. (1991) How mental systems believe. American Psychologist 46:107–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kermer, D. A., Driver-Linn, E., Wilson, T. D. & Gilbert, D. T. (2006) Loss aversion is an affective forecasting error. Psychological Science 17:649–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kirsch, I. & Lynn, S. J. (1999) The automaticity of behaviour and clinical psychology. American Psychologist 54:504–15.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lilienfeld, S. O., Ammirati, R. & Landfield, K. (2009) Giving debiasing away: Can psychological research on correcting cognitive errors promote human welfare? Perspectives on Psychological Science 4:390–99.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lynn, S. J. & McConkey, K. eds. (1998) Truth in memory. Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Malinowski, B. (1948) Magic, science and religion and other essays. Beacon.Google Scholar
Phillips, K.-A. (2008) Psychosocial factors and survival of young women with breast cancer. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Chicago, IL, June 2008.Google Scholar
Pronin, E., Gilovich, T. & Ross, L. (2004) Objectivity in the eye of the beholder: Divergent perceptions of bias in self versus others. Psychological Review 111(3):781–99.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilson, D. S. (1990) Species of thought: A comment on evolutionary epistomology. Biology and Philosophy 5:3762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, D. S. (1995) Language as a community of interacting belief systems: A case study involving conduct toward self and others. Biology and Philosophy 10:7797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, D. S. (2002) Darwin's cathedral: Evolution, religion and the nature of society. University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, D. S. (2005) Testing major evolutionary hypotheses about religion with a random sample. Human Nature 16(4):382409.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilson, D. S. (2006) Human groups as adaptive units: Toward a permanent consensus. In: The innate mind: Culture and cognition, ed. Carruthers, P., Laurence, S. & Stich, S., pp. 7890. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wilson, D. S. (2010) Rational and irrational beliefs from an evolutionary perspective. In: Rational and irrational beliefs, ed. David, D., Lynn, S. J. & Ellis, A., pp. 6374. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wilson, T. D. (2009) Know thyself. Perspectives on Psychological Science 384–89.Google Scholar