Individual differences: Variation by design

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (5):676-677 (2000)
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Abstract

Stanovich & West (S&W) appear to overlook the adaptivity of variation. Behavioral variability, both between and within individuals, is an absolute necessity for phylogenetic and ontological adaptation. As with all heritable characteristics, inter-individual behavioral variation is the foundation for natural selection. Similarly, intra-individual variation allows a broad exploration of potential solutions. Variation increases the likelihood that more optimal behaviors are available for selection. Four examples of the adaptivity of variation are discussed: (a) Genetic variation as it pertains to behavior and natural selection; (b) behavioral and cognitive aspects of mate selection which may facilitate genetic diversity; (c) variation as a strategy for optimizing learning through greater exploration; and (d) behavioral variation coupled with communication as a means to propagate individually discovered behavioral success.

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