Is Your Happiness Controlled By Evolutionary Social Psychology (ESP)?
The Evolution of Happiness
Learn the affect evolution has on your happiness in 6 tiny lessons...
So, for our first mini-lesson: what is evolutionary social psychology (ESP)?
ESP is a set of scientifically accepted assumptions that use the theory of evolution as a base.
ESP posits that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been shaped over many years of biological selection.
[This simply means that, even today, we carry with us certain natural tendencies because they were once useful to survival over this long period of time.]
ESP helps explain:
1) why we hold stereotypes,
2) why we get in autopilot mode on the way to work, and even
3) why we’re not still pumped up about our newest phone or gadget like the day we got it.
We make sense of things in our environment and move on from them rapidly.
This is because we only have a limited amount of fuel for things like paying attention and assessing our surroundings.
Our ancestors wouldn’t have lived long if they carefully evaluated their environment every day.
But being able to automatically detect threats, food, and mating opportunities gave them the ultimate “survival of the fittest” edge.
And we still have it.
For instance, if you’ve ever flinched because you thought a branch was a snake, you can thank your ancestors for that specific threat awareness.
Your automatic, non-conscious movement away from that stick was hardwired into you.
How else would you explain why the fear of snakes is so widespread?
Takeaways and Reflections:
1) Most humans have certain aversions (like a hypervigilance toward and fear of snakes) that we’ve evolved for.
Do you have any of these statistically irrational fears (thinking about getting bitten by a deadly spider, but not thinking twice about texting and driving)?
2) We’ve been hardwired to adapt to things in our environment quickly to avoid over-analysis.
Can you think of any way that rapid adaptation has made you complacent with some of the things you now own that you once wanted so badly?
In the next article, we'll answer the question: What does evolutionary social psychology have to do with happiness?