This paper examines three ancient traits of religion whose origins likely date back to the Upper Paleolithic: ancestor worship, shamanism, and the belief in natural and animal spirits. Evidence for the emergence of these traits coincides with evidence for a dramatic advance in human social cooperation. It is argued that these traits played a role in the evolution of human cooperation through the mechanism of social scrutiny. Social scrutiny is an effective means of reducing individualism and enhancing prosocial behavior. Religion’s (...) most ancient traits represent an extension of the human social world into the supernatural, thus reinforcing within-group cooperation by means of ever-vigilant spiritual monitors. Believing that the spirits were always watching may have helped reduce the number of non-cooperators within a group while reinforcing group behavioral norms, thus allowing humanlike levels of cooperation to emerge. (shrink)
This commentary argues that theories of cognitive control risk being incomplete unless they incorporate social/emotional factors. Social factors very likely played a critical role in the evolution of human cognitive control abilities, and emotional states are the primary regulatory mechanisms of cognitive control.
Psychology and Cognitive Archaeology demonstrates the potential of using cognitive archaeology framing to explore key issues in contemporary psychology and other behavioral sciences. This edited volume features psychologists exploring archaeological data concerning specific themes such as: the use of tools, our child-rearing practices, our expressions of gender and sexuality, our sleep patterns, the nature of warfare, cultural practices, and the origins of religion. Other chapters touch on cognitive archaeological methods, the history of evolutionary approaches in psychology, and relevant philosophical considerations (...) to further illustrate the interdisciplinary potential between archaeology and psychology. As a complementary counterpoint, the book also includes an archaeologist's perspective on these same topical matters, as well as robust introductory and concluding thoughts by the editors. This book will be an illuminating read for students and scholars of psychology, as well as philosophy, archaeology, and anthropology. (shrink)
This article argues that social selection pressures in recent human evolution were primarily responsible for the emergence of modern cognition. These selection pressures took three specific forms: Increased security and stability, which reduced allostatic load on developing children, facilitating expanded working memory development; increased opportunities for mother-infant joint engagement, which created positive selection for more sophisticated forms of cognition; and increased pressure on ritualized behavior associated with both mother-infant joint engagement and the construction and maintenance of an unprecedentedly complex adult (...) social world. These pressures directly affected the development of the behavioral trait of effortful control in children. Effortful control is closely linked with executive functions, including working memory. Effortful control also shows characteristics that make it a prime candidate for rapidly spreading, culturally driven changes that were prevalent late in human evolution. (shrink)