Sociopaths are “outstanding” members of society in two senses: politically, they draw our attention because of the inordinate amount of crime they commit, and psychologically, they hold our fascination because most ofus cannot fathom the cold, detached way they repeatedly harm and manipulate others. Proximate explanations from behavior genetics, child development, personality theory, learning theory, and social psychology describe a complex interaction of genetic and physiological risk factors with demographic and micro environmental variables that predispose a portion of the population (...) to chronic antisocial behavior. More recent, evolutionary and game theoretic models have tried to present an ultimate explanation of sociopathy as the expression of a frequency-dependent life strategy which is selected, in dynamic equilibrium, in response to certain varying environmental circumstances. This paper tries to integrate the proximate, developmental models with the ultimate, evolutionary ones, suggesting that two developmentally different etiologies of sociopathy emerge from two different evolutionary mechanisms. Social strategies for minimizing the incidence of sociopathic behavior in modern society should consider the two different etiologies and the factors that contribute to them. (shrink)
Patterns of dream content indicating a predominance of themes relating to threat are likely to reflect biases in dream recall and dream scoring techniques. Even if this pattern is not artifactual, it is yet reflective of threat-related biases in our conscious and nonconscious waking cognition, and is not special to dreams. [Revonsuo].
Recent studies lend support to the two-pathway model of the evolution of sociopathy with evidence that: 1) psychopathy (primary sociopathy) is a discrete type and 2) in general, sociopaths have relatively high levels of reproductive success. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist may provide a start for the revision of terminology that will be necessary to distinguish between primary and secondary trajectories.
According to evolutionary theory, emotions are psychological mechanisms that have evolved to enhance fitness in specific situations by motivating appropriate (adaptive) behavior. Taking this perspective, a previous study examined the relationship between mood and preference for natural environments. It reported that participants’ anxiety level was associated with a preference for landscapes offering what Appleton called "refuge," while participants’ anger and cheerfulness were both associated with a preference for landscapes offering what Appleton called "prospect." We attempted to replicate these results and (...) to improve on the study by experimentally manipulating mood. Using a between-subjects design, 80 participants were instructed to self-induce one of four moods: anger, sadness, anxiety, or joy. After the mood induction, they viewed fourteen landscape photographs and recorded the seven most preferred. It was hypothesized that subjects experiencing anger or joy would prefer landscapes rich in "prospect" features, whereas participants experiencing sadness or anxiety would prefer landscapes rich in "refuge" features. In contrast to the previous study, the predictions were not supported: artificially induced moods may not provide ecological validity as a test of the "mood as motivator" model; alternatively, the first study may have reported an alpha error. To see whether the model has practical value, we recommend a study of landscape preference using participants with clinically significant levels of mood dysphoria. (shrink)
Female competition generally takes nonviolent form, but includes intense verbal and nonverbal harassment that has profound social and physiological consequences. The evolutionary ecological model of competitive reproductive suppression in human females, might profitably be applied to explain a range of contemporary phenomena, including anorexia.
Because of their evolutionary importance, threat-detection mechanisms are likely to exist at a variety of levels. A recent study of face recognition suggests that novel stimuli receive enhanced processing when presented as fear-related. This suggests the existence of a complex, context-dependent threat-detection mechanism that can adaptively respond to spatiotemporally varying and unique environmental features.
It is impossible to discuss the constructs and in a single coherent essay. The following three rejoinders address each of these exceedingly complex constructs individually, as each relates to the two-path model of sociopathy and psychopathy.
Human behavior can be analyzed using game theory models. Complex games may involve different rules for different players and may allow players to change identity (and therefore, rules) according to complex contingencies. From this perspective, mating behaviors can be viewed as strategic “plays” in a complex “mating game,” with players varying tactics in response to changes in the game's payoff matrix.
The Perception-Action Model of empathy (PAM) is both sufficiently broad and sufficiently detailed to be able to describe and accommodate a wide range of phenomena – including the apparent “cold-heartedness” or lack of empathy of psychopaths. We show how the physiological, cognitive, and emotional elements of the PAM map onto known and hypothesized attributes of the psychopathic personality.
Mazur & Booth provide life scientists with an example of the multilevel biopsychosocial approach. Research paradigms have to become more flexible and multidisciplinary if we are to free ourselves from the nature–nurture dichotomy that we have long agreed was simplistic and shortsighted. I point out a variety of kinds of interactions that may be the next frontier for behavioral scientists.
We doubt that theory of mind can be sufficiently demonstrated without reliance on verbal tests. Where language is the major tool of social manipulation, an effective theory of mind must use language as an input. We suspect, therefore, that in this context, prelinguistic human and nonhuman minds are more alike than are human pre- and postlinguistic minds.
Several theorists have tried to model anorexia on Wasser and Barash’s (1983) “reproductive suppression model” (RSM). According to the RSM, individual females adaptively suppress their reproductive functioning under conditions of social or physiological stress. From this perspective, mild anorexia is viewed as an adaptive response to modern conditions; more severe anorexia is viewed as an adaptation gone awry. Previous models have not, however, examined the full richness of the RSM. Specifically, Wasser and Barash documented not only self-imposed reproductive suppression, but (...) also manipulative reproductive suppression of subordinate females by dominants. I propose that the modern “epidemic” of anorexia is explained neither by adaptive self-suppression nor by environmental mismatch (an adaptation gone awry); I propose that the “epidemic” levels of anorexia seen in modern western society are a direct consequence of intrasexual competition, the scope of which has been enhanced by the power and reach of modern communications media. According to this perspective, anorexia, even in its mild forms, is a manipulative strategy imposed on subordinates by dominants. Anorexia is, in both senses, a “losing” strategy. (shrink)