Evolutionary Psychology


This is the entry for "Evolutionary Psychology" in the Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives.  This entry provides a summary and overview of the science of evolutionary psychology and its implications for the study of law.  Understanding how evolution has shaped human nature and individual preferences can provide insight into how to use law to direct individual behavior in pro-social directions and away from anti-social behavior.  This essay provides an overview of the science of evolutionary psychology, especially as it manifests itself in human proclivities for cooperation and conflict.  In contrast to the Hobbesian view of human nature that implicitly underlies the modern understanding of law, evolutionary psychology provides several models of cooperation in the absence of law.  But evolutionary psychology also provides insights into the nature of social conflict and the challenges this presents for legal regulation.  Finally, the article describes the research program of law and evolutionary psychology, the testable hypotheses of evolutionary psychology, and the criteria for distinguishing evolutionary explanations of human behavior from legalistic and norms-based theories.