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Human zoological psychology: Mind of men and women in the mirror of evolution
Arcady A. Putilov

This handbook reviews the state of the art in comparative psychology (“zoopsychology” in Russian programs of psychological faculties).

The main idea of the book is to rewrite the science of comparative psychology with the position of evolutionary psychology that is a new approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principals from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. This approach argues that human behavior can be understood in terms of evolutionary processes and suggests application of biological ideas and data to establish a comprehensive theory of evolutionary psychology – a theory with a potential to unite all of psychology under a single framework and to explain the basis of human behavior and experience.

The key concepts of evolutionary psychology contrast with the psychological views prevailing in the 20th century that the humans have evolved beyond the influence of animal instincts, that a newborn baby is a tabula rasa (blank slate) ready for cultural imprinting. The evolutionary psychology suggests that hard-wired instincts and instinct-based individual modifications of behavior are still with us, and that our genes and minds did not change much for the last 10000 years, even though in recent times of civilization the environment has changed rapidly. The recent moment of the history of psychology is considered as a turning point when for the first time this science might really be integrated into evolutionary biology.

Additionally, the textbook is designed to bridge the gap between old topics of comparative psychology (such as a comparison of animal intellectual abilities) and most recent interests of evolutionary psychology (such as evolutionary cognitive psychology). The textbook is written in belief that the future of the psychology in increased interdisciplinary training and communication. The textbook chapters integrate findings from sociobiology, behavioral ecology, human ethology, comparative psychology, evolutionary psychology, anthropopsychology, ethnopsychology, human genetics, and the like. One of most important messages that this textbook convey is the need for multidisciplinary synthesis of all these disciplines on the basis of evolutionary psychology.

Almost every concept presented in the textbook is illustrated by parallel examples from the animal and human studies. These illustrations cover such topics as intellectual and specific abilities, language evolution, emotions, courtship, reproduction, rearing of offspring, family relations, social interactions, etc. The principles of evolutionary biology are applied to basic psychological functions to derive new insights into the roots of human behavior. It is shown how human behavior and psychic characteristics may be viewed as adaptations to life’s significant challenges.

The book consists of 7 main parts. The 1st part (evolution of psychology) traces the philosophical and scientific movements leading to evolutionary revolution in psychology associated with the rise of human ethology, sociobiology, behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology. It covers the whole history of psychological thoughts starting from evolution of the concept of “psyche” in ancient times. In the end of this part the main conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology are listed.

The issues, discussed in the 2nd part (comparative psychology), are very diverse, from the nature of reflex and habituation to a theory of mind and language acquisition.

The 3rd part (psychological genetics) devotes to the genetic and evolutionary aspects of adaptations.

Whereas the 2nd part is organized largely in terms of basic forms of psychic capacities, the 4th and 5th parts are organized around organisms’ adaptive problems, such as getting access to physical and social resources, choosing mates, growing offspring, forming group, and so on. The 4th part (ecological psychology) devoted to the adaptive problems of animals and humans, starting with the problems of survival and intra-species competition and ending with reproductive problems. The 5th part (ecological sociology) introduces and exemplifies group living.

These last two parts cover evolutionary history of modern humans, the history of race division and ethnic expansions, as well as several general psychosocial aspects of traditional and modern societies. The 6th part (anthropological psychology) focuses on evolution of human mind, and 7th (ethnological psychology) – on the human diversity and most unique aspect of human nature – culture.

The textbook appeals to students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and other educated readers who are interested in psychology and evolution.