A History of Evolutionary Social Psychology

Authored by: Douglas T. Kenrick , Adam B. Cohen

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


 Download Chapter



In the beginning, the history of social psychology and the history of evolutionary psychology were one. The first text in our field with social psychology in the title, by William McDougall 1908, adopted an explicitly evolutionary perspective. And although it is common for textbooks to cite Triplett’s (1897–1898) study of social facilitation as the first empirical research in social psychology, those same texts also typically cite Darwin’s (1872) empirical research on the communication function of emotional expressions. Darwin’s study of emotion, which is foundational in evolutionary social psychology, predated Triplett’s work by 25 years. Perhaps because Darwin is at the center of our prototype of a biologist, it seems that social psychologists don’t typically categorize him as a pioneering social psychologist, but they should. And bridging Darwin and McDougall was another part-time social psychologist, William James—who, to our knowledge, is the person that coined the term “evolutionary psychology” (in The Principles of Psychology in 1890).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.