"Psychological barriers to evolutionary psychology: Ideological bias and coalitional adaptations"
Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 148-158.
In this paper, we argue that four interlocking barriers beset psychologists seeking to develop a proper science of social psychology. The first is the ideological orientation characteristic of most social psychologists—heavily skewed on the left side of the political spectrum. The second is the adoption of a view of human nature that social psychologists believe to be most conducive to that ideology—a blank slate that is corrupted solely by the ills of bad environments. The third is a rejection of theories and findings believed to contravene that view of human nature—those coming from evolutionary approaches to human behavior. The fourth is a suite of evolved psychological adaptations that actively impede an understanding of evolutionary psychology—adaptations for social persuasion rather than truth-seeking, adaptations for prestige maintenance, and adaptations for forming and maintaining in-group coalitions and for punishing competing coalitions. We examine these scientific impediments with empirical data based on a survey of 335 established social psychologists from the premier scientific society, The Society for Experimental Social Psychology (SESP). We conclude with the irony that our evolved psychology may interfere with the scientific understanding of our evolved psychology.
In this paper, we argue that four interlocking barriers stand in the way of research scientists who seek to understand human social psychology. The first barrier is the political ideology of most social psychologists, which is typically on the left (or liberal) side of the spectrum. The second barrier is a view of human nature common among people on the political left, which is that we are born without any predilections to behave in a particular manner. According to this view, our mind is a blank slate at birth and is corrupted solely by the ills of bad environments or societies. The third barrier is a tendency to reject theories and findings that might contravene the “blank slate” view of human nature, particularly theories and findings that arise from evolutionary approaches to human behavior. The fourth barrier is a collection of evolved tendencies that prevent investigators from being dispassionate seekers of scientific truth. These include our evolved tendency to be more focused on persuasion than truth-seeking, to be concerned with the maintenance of our prestige as scientists, and to form and maintain coalitions that compete with each other. We provide initial evidence for some of these possibilities with data gathered from a survey of 335 established social psychologists. We conclude with the irony that our evolved psychology may interfere with the scientific understanding of our evolved psychology.