A history of evolutionary social psychology

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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).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the History of Social Psychology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781136668999
ISBN (Print)9781848728684
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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