Mama’s Baby Papa’s Maybe
DO HUMAN beings start out in life with a blank slate?
Or are they subject to a natural selection process occurring in all organisms?
According to Charles Darwin , organisms are born with a built-in ability to adapt to the environment in order to produce more offspring and increase their survival chances as a species. Not objecting to evolution itself, many social scientists, including psychologists – object to this important aspect of evolution regarding instincts and adapatations.
This, they accept, occurs only to other animals. When it comes to humans they adhere to the theory that humans start out in life with a blank slate. They believe that adaptation and instincts have been replaced by rationality, and that all the content of human character and behaviour is obtained through socialization and culture during one’s lifetime.
Evolutionary psychologists, however, suggest that we humans, like other organisms, have been subject to this natural selection process as well. Take for example, the domain of jealousy.
Jealousy has been viewed historically within psychology as a kind of trivial emotion and a sign of immaturity. When non-evolutionary psychologists studied the phenomenon of jealousy, they posed the question in a general way and failed to find differences in how often males and females experienced jealousy.
But evolutionary psychologists discovered that over deep time males have faced an adaptive problem recurrently which females have not. The problem of paternity uncertainty is sometimes described by the phrase “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe”.
This insight led to the prediction that the evolutionary design of sexual jealousy should be somewhat different in males than females. While males focus on the sexual aspects of infidelity, jeopardizing their uncertainty of paternity and potentially diverting their resources to a rival’s offspring, women focus heavily on the emotional aspects of infidelity – instinctively threatening to women because it’s a cue to the long-term diversion of a man’s resources to another woman and her children.
Although we are biologically programmed this way, we are not cognitively aware of it as it’s happening. Ofcourse, this may lead some to think that if human beings are genetically programmed to certain behaviours then what role does psychology and environment play?
The answer is that other adaptations are always vying for expression as well, such as adapting to the psychological and social norms of one’s environment.
The point is that human beings are creatures of a complicated mix of social and psychological aspects with build-in adaptive issues like “get food, attract mates, fend off rivals, keep warm”.
And the rule of thumb in terms of instincts is to enjoy sex, because that’s what would leads to reproduction and survival of our species.