Evolutionary explanations of food preference essay

By Saul McLeodupdated Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space Ainsworth; Bowlby

Evolutionary explanations of food preference essay

That leaves the rational element as the best—although imperfect—way of predicting behavior. In this essay I sketch out the nature of that theory, describe some puzzles that economics has a difficult time explaining, and try to show how modifying economics with the aid of evolutionary psychology might help explain them.

The Short Version Evolutionary psychology [2] starts from two simple assumptions: The human mind is best understood not as a general purpose computer but as a set of specialized software modules, each designed to deal with a particular subset of problems.

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Those programs have been designed by Darwinian evolution to produce reproductive success in our environment of evolutionary adaptiveness—the hunter-gatherer environment in which our species spent most of its species history.

Researchers in evolutionary psychology, starting with these assumptions, have generated and tested predictions ranging from differences in male and female special abilities to the timing of morning sickness.

Three important points are worth making about the second assumption in order to avoid misunderstanding. The first is that the assumption is not that individuals seek reproductive success—if we were doing that, the population of developed countries would be increasing much faster than it is—but only that we have those psychological characteristics that produced reproductive success in the environment we evolved in.

The second is that reproductive success is an objective for the individual, not the group or species. Most scholars in evolutionary biology accept the view that traits which benefit group or species at the cost of the individual who carries them will be selected out.

Agriculture is a recent development. We would expect most of our characteristics to be designed to produce reproductive success in the environment in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history—believed to be an environment of small hunter-gatherer Evolutionary explanations of food preference essay.

Evolutionary explanations of food preference essay

The first is an increase in its precision. Economists assume that individuals have objectives. But economic theory does not tell us what those objectives are, although observation and introspection provide at least a rough idea of what they are likely to be.

Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, know the objective of genes [5] —reproductive success or, more precisely, inclusive fitness, getting as many copies of themselves as possible into future generations.

That ability is limited by our ignorance of the opportunity sets facing the genes—what sorts of organisms it is possible for them to construct. If, for example, there were a way of constructing a phyloprogenitive superman, a human being much stronger, faster, healthier, smarter, than existing humans and capable of surviving on practically anything, the gene that pulled off the trick would be a big winner in the Darwinian race.

The absence of such supermen suggests that it cannot be done, or at least that doing it is so difficult that no gene has yet had managed it.

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A less obvious example of the same point is the observed limit to how phyloprogenitive real human beings are. We are designed to seek reproductive success through a variety of traits—desire for sex that leads us to reproduce, parental love that leads us to care for our offspring, and many others.

But despite those traits human beings, in the environments of recent centuries, produce far fewer children than they could produce and successfully rear—in part because we have found ways, ranging from birth control to pets, to sabotage the objectives of our genes in order to better serve our own objectives.

Knowing the objective of our genes is not sufficient to tell us, with confidence, the objectives of the human beings that those genes build. But it is enough to suggest hypotheses—characteristics that would lead to increased reproductive success and that it might be possible for genes to give to the organisms they construct.

Having formed such hypotheses, we can then test them by comparing their predictions to what we observe.

Psychology SOS: Discuss Evolutionary Explanations of Food Preferences (8 & 16 marks)

That is a methodology routinely used in evolutionary biology—including, but not limited to, evolutionary psychology. It is the same as the methodology of positive economics save for a different and more explicit procedure for forming hypotheses.

One way in which evolutionary psychology modifies the rationality assumption is by predicting what objectives individuals are likely to have.

A second is by providing a theory of mistakes. Compared to rational thinking, Darwinian evolution is a slow process. It follows that individuals are likely to be irrational—designed to act in ways not well designed to achieve their objectives—when the relevant features of the environment have changed rapidly enough so that evolution has not yet had time to catch up.

The theory predicts not merely that individuals will make mistakes—that we already knew—but what mistakes they will make.

Evolutionary Explanations for Food Preference Essay Plan - Document in A Level and IB Psychology

They will make those mistakes that would have led to reproductive success in the environment in which the psychological characteristics leading to those mistakes evolved.

In this section I first consider a group of such economic puzzles that I believe can all be explained by a common characteristic of human psychology—the belief in just prices—itself explainable on evolutionary grounds. I then go on to consider two more puzzles—inconsistent time preferences and endowment effects—each of which I argue has an evolutionary explanation.

Behavioral Consequences of the Belief in Just Prices The first puzzle is the existence of predictable lines. Consider a restaurant whose patrons know that if they come for dinner on Friday or Saturday they will have to wait forty-five minutes for a table.

The line does not increase the number of people the restaurant can serve [10] but does impose an additional cost on customers in waiting time, raising the total cost of the meal enough to reduce quantity of meals demanded to the quantity the restaurant is capable of producing.

Suppose the wait is the equivalent, from the standpoint of the customers, [11] to a ten-dollar increase in price. If the restaurant simply raised its price for the nights it was busy by ten dollars the line would shrink to close to zero.

Customers would be no worse off—they would be paying the extra price in money instead of time—and the restaurant would be better off by ten dollars per diner. In the longer run, the increase in the amount restaurants could charge on busy nights would increase the supply of restaurants, bringing down the price and transferring at least some of the benefit back to the customers.

Restaurants do, to some extent, vary their price in this way—usually by announcing special discounts for low-demand nights rather than special surcharges for high-demand nights.A final weakness of the evolutionary explanation is that there is research which has led to the renaming of the critical period to become the sensitive period.

Rutter et al () Studied infants who were abandoned or orphaned and raised in institutions in Eastern Europe prior to adoption in the UK and US. Jun 01,  · Discuss evolutionary explanations of food preference (24 marks) To understand the evolution of food preferences passed on by our distant ancestors, we must understand the environment they lived in.

The environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA) refers to the environment in which our ancestors lived and evolved, over 2 . Evolutionary Explanations of food preferences can also be seen to be a reductionist approach to eating behaviour.

This means that some other factors that may also contribute to our eating behaviour have been forgotten about, such as psychological explanations, in order to focus on evolutionary explanations alone.

May 13,  · Evaluation of the evolutionary explanations of food preferences Gibson and Wardle () – found that children are more likely to prefer food that is high in calories than they are sweet food, food that high in protein or food that is familiar to them. Jun 14,  · June – Outline and evaluate evolutionary explanations of food preference (4+16) June – Discuss evolutionary explanations of food preference (8+16 marks) According to the evolutionary approach, we are prediposed to tastes that enhance our survival.

Umami tastes indicate carbohydrates and protein. Sweet tastes . This paper discusses the relationship between food preferences and food choice. First, we aim to identify and our food preferences are particularly how we perceive the basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami which, (Drewnowski, ).

The perception of sweet tastes as pleasant reflects evolutionary pressures to consume food.

Sweetness and Food Preference