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Evolutionary psychology suggests where—and why—managers may be working against our inner circuitry. But over the past several years, evolutionary psychology as a discipline has gathered both momentum and respect. A convergence of research and discoveries in genetics, neuropsychology, and paleobiology, among other sciences, evolutionary psychology holds that although human beings today inhabit a thoroughly modern world of space exploration and virtual realities, they do so with the ingrained mentality of Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Homo sapiens emerged on the Savannah Plain some , years ago, yet according to evolutionary psychology, people today still seek those traits that made survival possible then: an instinct to fight furiously when threatened, for instance, and a drive to trade information and share secrets. Human beings are, in other words, hardwired. That said, evolutionary psychologists do not argue that all people are alike underneath. Further, like other scientific theories—the Big Bang and global warming, to name two—evolutionary psychology is the subject of fierce debate. The central proposition of evolutionary psychology—that human beings retain the mentality of their Stone Age forebears—gathers its strength from six convergent sources of scientific research. By studying societies past and present, Darwinian anthropologists are identifying cultural universals with regard to gender relations, art and ritual, language and thought, and trading and competition. Patterns that recur across all societies, regardless of time and place, are thought to have a strong biogenetic origin.
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It's one of life's great injustices: Some people must carefully pay attention to everything they put in their mouths in order to maintain their weight, while others can eat doughnuts to their heart's content and achieve the same result. So what's the secret? How do some people manage to never gain weight? There isn't one simple answer to this question, said Kathleen Melanson, a professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island. One of the most important factors has nothing to do with body type, metabolism, or performing a spell during the full moon: It's perception. Many people who appear to eat whatever they like without gaining weight aren't actually eating more than the rest of us, Melanson said. For example, your friend who eats ice cream on a daily basis might naturally compensate for those extra calories by eating less at another meal, or snacking less throughout the rest of the day. Or perhaps, when they eat pizza, they're eating slowly, getting full, then stopping after just a few slices. Related: Can you turn fat into muscle? Physical activity can also make a difference, but it doesn't have to be a gym workout.
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Do you believe in the Gospel as taught by the Church. I just wanted to tell you that I am grateful for your words!. Anyone who's a decent human being should be able to know right from wrong and act accordingly. My husband has gone from proselytizing and thinking he knows it all to a real spiritual seeker, albeit with a strong testimony in the church. Looking back, I can say that when I received this answer to my prayers, I was at one of the most spiritually high moments of my life. I believe in temple marriage, and in the importance of those covenants. You just can't imagine the heap o' hurt you're potentially setting yourself up for. She's admitted to loving me before but she has problems and issues with what she wants. Also thank God that when he starts his real podiatry job next year he will have steady hours. They might be disappointed, or overjoyed, or judgmental, or supportive.

Evolutionary psychology suggests where—and why—managers may be working against our inner circuitry. But over the past several years, evolutionary psychology as a discipline has gathered both momentum and respect. A convergence of research and discoveries in genetics, neuropsychology, and paleobiology, among other sciences, evolutionary psychology holds that although human beings today inhabit a thoroughly modern world of space exploration and virtual realities, they do so with the ingrained mentality of Stone Age hunter-gatherers.

Homo sapiens emerged on the Savannah Plain some , years ago, yet according to evolutionary psychology, people today still seek those traits that made survival possible then: an instinct to fight furiously when threatened, for instance, and a drive to trade information and share secrets.

Human beings are, in other words, hardwired. That said, evolutionary psychologists do not argue that all people are alike underneath. Further, like other scientific theories—the Big Bang and global warming, to name two—evolutionary psychology is the subject of fierce debate. The central proposition of evolutionary psychology—that human beings retain the mentality of their Stone Age forebears—gathers its strength from six convergent sources of scientific research. By studying societies past and present, Darwinian anthropologists are identifying cultural universals with regard to gender relations, art and ritual, language and thought, and trading and competition.

Patterns that recur across all societies, regardless of time and place, are thought to have a strong biogenetic origin. Behavioral Genetics. Scientists in this field, drawing on research in genetics and on a growing number of studies on twins and adopted children, focus their research on the hereditary components of the mind. They have identified, for instance, several genes thought to control human dispositions, including aspects of temperament and cognitive skills. Comparative Ethology. Comparing the mating, status-seeking, and social behaviors of monkeys, chimpanzees and other primates, scientists in this field have observed systematic patterns of behavior and analyzed where they reveal parallels in human behavior.

In particular, they shed light on our basic programming for sexual politics and cooperative behavior and analyzed where they reveal parallels in human behavior. In particular, they shed light on our basic programming for sexual politics and cooperative behavior.

Using a variety of methods, including electrical stimulation, brain surgery, imaging techniques that film the brain in action, scientists in this field try to understand which parts of the brain control emotions and how chemicals in the brain affect thoughts and sensations.

Based on their analysis of fossils and ancient human remains, paleontologists believe they have discovered evidence of how human beings lived and how their characteristics adapted to the environment they inhabited.

Social Psychology. Studying social behavior in experiments and field studies, scientists have tested theories in evolutionary psychology about the conditions under which human beings cooperate, compete, and behave aggressively. Their findings about universal patterns suggest which impulses and reactions are hardwired into the human psyche. Even with the convergence of findings in these disciplines, the field of evolutionary psychology is controversial.

Some scientists, for instance, believe that evolutionary psychology overstates the biogenetic origin of cultural mores and norms and understates the capacity of learning and language to shape human nature. Further, evolutionary psychology clearly challenges what some religions, including Christianity, believe about the creation and free will. And finally, the tenets of evolutionary psychology also directly dispute a great deal of popular management theory, which contends that people can change their personalities if correctly trained or motivated.

Thus, evolutionary psychology may not be the only lens through which managers choose to view their work and their world, but it is a challenging perspective that calls for a closer look.

But evolutionary psychology is by now well established enough to merit examination. Understanding evolutionary psychology is useful to managers because it provides a new and provocative way to think about human nature; it also offers a framework for understanding why people tend to act as they do in organizational settings. Put another way, evolutionary psychology, in identifying the aspects of human behavior that are inborn and universal, can explain some familiar patterns.

Evolutionary psychology goes so far as to raise the questions: How might organizations be designed to work in harmony with our biogenetic identity?

One hundred and thirty-nine years ago, the British naturalist Charles Darwin rattled the world with his theory of natural selection. Instead, they were an evolved species, the biological descendants of a line that stretched back through apes and back to ancient simians.

In fact, Darwin said, human beings shared a common heritage with all other species. Genes that produce faulty design features, such as soft bones or weak hearts, are largely eliminated from the population in two ways. This is called environmental selection. Second, these same creatures are unattractive to other members of their group because they appear weak and less likely to reproduce.

This is called sexual selection. The genes that survive environmental and sexual selection are passed on to succeeding generations. At the same time, genetic mutations occasionally crop up. They produce new variations—say, improved hearing or sharp teeth. The characteristics that help a species thrive and propagate will survive the process of natural selection and be passed on. By these means, species evolve with stable genetic profiles that optimally fit the environmental niches they occupy.

Thus, fish that live at the bottom of the sea can see in the darkness, and dogs that prey on burrowing rodents have keen senses of smell. Species become extinct and new species emerge when radical shifts in environmental conditions render obsolete one set of design features and offer opportunities for a new set to prosper. Darwin and his proponents over the decades have used the theory of natural selection to explain how and why human beings share biological and physical traits, such as the opposable thumb and keen eyesight, with other species.

Evolutionary psychologists go further. They use the theory of natural selection to explain the workings of the human brain and the dynamics of the human group.

If evolution shaped the human body, they say, it also shaped the human mind. A range of variations in their biogenetic design briefly flourished and then became extinct, leaving Homo sapiens as the all-conquering survivor. The success of Homo sapiens was no fluke. For most of our history, this is how people lived, until their world radically changed with the invention of agriculture approximately 10, years ago.

This suddenly allowed people to accumulate wealth and live in larger numbers and in greater concentrations, and freed many from hand-to-mouth subsistence. From this agricultural period, fast and short steps have brought us to modern civilization, with its enormous social changes wrought by advanced technology and communications. But evolutionary psychologists assert there are three reasons that these changes have not stimulated further human evolution. First, as far back as 50, years ago, humans had become so scattered across the planet that beneficial new genetic mental mutations could not possibly spread.

Second, there has been no consistent new environmental pressure on people that requires further evolution. Third, 10, years is insufficient time for significant genetic modifications to become established across the population. Thus, evolutionary psychologists argue that although the world has changed, human beings have not. Evolutionary psychology offers a theory of how the human mind came to be constructed. And that mind, according to evolutionary psychologists, is hardwired in ways that govern most human behavior to this day. Several key hypotheses among evolutionary psychologists speak directly to executives, however, because they shed light on how human beings think and feel and how they relate to one another.

Life on the Savannah Plain was short and very fragile. The food supply and other resources, such as clothing and shelter, were unreliable and varied in quality. Natural life-threatening hazards abounded. The thoughts and emotions that best served them were programmed into their psyches and continue to drive many aspects of human behavior today.

Chief among them are:. Emotions Before Reason. In an uncertain world, those who survived always had their emotional radar—call it instinct, if you will—turned on.

And Stone Age people, at the mercy of wild predators or impending natural disasters, came to trust their instincts above all else. That reliance on instinct undoubtedly saved human lives, allowing those who possessed keen instincts to reproduce. So for human beings, no less than for any other animal, emotions are the first screen to all information received. Today businesspeople are often trained to dispense with emotions in favor of rational analysis and urged to make choices using logical devices such as decision trees and spreadsheets.

But evolutionary psychology suggests that emotions can never fully be suppressed. That is why, for instance, even the most sensible employees cannot seem to receive feedback in the constructive vein in which it is often given. Because of the primacy of emotions, people hear bad news first and loudest. Managers should not assume they can balance positive and negative messages. The negatives have by far the greater power and can wipe out in one stroke all the built-up credit of positive messages.

In fact, because of the primacy of emotions, perhaps the most discouraging and potentially dangerous thing you can do is to tell someone he or she failed. Be careful, then, of who you put in charge of appraisal systems in your organization. These managers must be sensitive to the emotional minefields that all negative messages must navigate. Loss Aversion Except When Threatened. Human beings who survived the harsh elements of the Stone Age undoubtedly tried to avoid loss. After all, when you are living on the edge, to lose even a little would mean that your very existence was in jeopardy.

Indeed, when the circumstances felt safe enough, that is very likely just what they did. We can see this same kind of behavior in children; when they are securely attached—confident that an adult will prevent any harm from coming to them—they can be quite adventurous.

But when harm looms, such behavior evaporates. Their descendants, with this genetic inheritance, would therefore also be more likely to avoid loss. Sometimes our ancestors lived below the margin, with barely enough food to get by and no secure shelter.

Or they experienced a direct threat to their lives from a predator, a natural disaster, or another human being. There are no historical records of what Stone Age people did in such circumstances, but it stands to reason that they fought furiously.

And certainly those human beings willing to do anything to save themselves would be those that lived to pass on the genes that encoded such determination. Thus, we are hardwired to avoid loss when comfortable but to scramble madly when threatened. Such behavior can be seen in business all the time. Their instinct is to take risks as soon as losses start to mount. A stock starts to fall and they double up their positions, for instance.

That said, experienced traders know how damaging these instincts are; and rules and procedures that force them to cut their and let their lossess and let their profits run. But without such rules and procedures, human nature would most likely take its course. Consider what happens when a company announces impending layoffs but does not specify which people will lose their jobs.



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