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Evolutionary psychology is a hybrid discipline that draws insights from modern evolutionary theory, biology, cognitive psychology, anthropology, economics, computer science, and paleoarchaeology. The discipline rests on a foundation of core premises:
- Manifest behavior depends on underlying psychological mechanisms, information processing devices housed in the brain, in conjunction with the external and internal inputs that trigger their activation.
- Evolution by selection is the only known causal process capable of creating such complex organic mechanisms.
- Evolved psychological mechanisms are functionally specialized to solve adaptive problems that recurred for humans over deep evolutionary time.
- Selection designed the information processing of many evolved psychological mechanisms to be adaptively influenced by specific classes of information from the environment.
- Human psychology consists of a large number of functionally specialized evolved mechanisms, each sensitive to particular forms of contextual input, that get combined, coordinated, and integrated with each other to produce manifest behavior.
The focus of the Evolutionary Psychology Lab is on the psychology of close relationships, particularly romantic relationships. We study phenomena such as jealousy, infidelity, relationship satisfaction, physical abuse, and sexuality. Current research projects include a diary study of conflict within married couples, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and a study of couples involved in violent relationships, funded by the State of Florida. Another line of work addresses murder and violence, particularly in romantic relationships, using national crime data, and funded by The Woodhill Foundation.