Here’s a great article from our friend Glenn Geher, Ph.D. of State University of New York at New Paltz that we would like to share:
Teaching kids about the importance of evolutionary mismatch in life!
Evolution and Human Behavior – Thoughts for 6th Graders
In late 2011, my daughter Megan, then 11, was taking an awesome social studies class in 6th grade. Her teacher, Ms. Naclerio, was very interested in evolution and human origins – so Megan chimed in and and was like “hey, my dad sort of studies that kind of stuff – maybe he can come in and talk about it with the class.” So the deal was done before I even got home that day!
Hmm – I’m an evolutionary psychologist – not a fossil guy who’s done fieldwork in the African Savanna. What ideas from my field could I talk about that would explicate some important ideas related to their curriculum on human origins?
As luck would have it, this all was right around the time that we were planning a visit to campus with the iconic Robb Wolf (author of The Paleo Solution), as part of SUNY New Paltz’s Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Seminar Series. Robb’s work (encapsulated in Robb’s talk at New Paltz, found here) focuses largely on an idea that’s basic in evolutionary psychology – Evolutionary Mismatch – or the idea that problems emerge when an organism happens to exist in an environment currently that mismatches important features of the environment that was typical during the evolutionary history of that organism. According to Robb and others in the Paleo field, people in “advanced” societies like ours have many major health problems, such as obesity, because our modern environments (which include things like McDonald’s) have historically unprecedented amounts of unnatural, processed foods (milkshakes, high-fat meat, foods densely loaded with carbs, etc.).
Evolutionary Psychology (as addressed in my newest work; Geher & Kaufman, 2013) largely focuses on this idea of mismatch – our family structures mismatch ancestral structures (which included a higher proportion of kin who were local; see Hrdy, 2009), our educational structures mismatch ancestral educational “structures” (which were not really “structured” at all; see Gray, 2011), and so forth. I figured that this general idea, of evolutionary mismatch, would be accessible and provocative for the 6th graders to think about.
To read the rest of this great article, check out the full post here http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201302/evolutionary-psychology-kids-part-1
Glenn Geher, Ph.D.
Glenn Geher, Ph.D., is professor and chair of psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz. In addition to teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and conducting research in various areas related to evolutionary psychology, Glenn is founding director of the campus’ Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program, one of the most successful, noteworthy, and vibrant features of a campus that prides itself (rightfully) on academic vibrance. And he has published several books, including Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love (co-authored with Scott Barry Kaufman and published by Oxford University Press). In Darwin’s Subterranean World: Evolution, Mind, and Mating Intelligence, Glenn addresses various topics related to evolutionary psychology and the nature of human mating intelligence – a core feature of human psychology writ large. Many of the posts here originate from Glenn’s blog for the Evolutionary Studies Consortium – Building Darwin’s Bridges, funded with monies from the National Science Foundation. Glenn is a founding member of this consortium which is dedicated to helping expand Darwin’s reach across the entire world of higher education.