Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Evolution and Human Behavior: A Field Guide for Teaching Evolution in the Social Sciences

Cristine Legare John Opfer Justin Busch Andrew Shtulman
Published January 21, 2018


The theory of evolution by natural selection has begun to revolutionize our understanding of perception, cognition, language, social behavior, and cultural practices. Despite the centrality of evolutionary theory to the social sciences, many students, teachers,and even scientists struggle to understand how natural selection works. Our goal is to provide a field guide for social scientists on teaching evolution, based on research in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and education. We synthesize what is known about the psychological obstacles to understanding evolution, methods for assessing evolution understanding, and pedagogical strategies for improving evolution understanding. We review what is known about teaching evolution about nonhuman species and then explore implications of these findings for the teaching of evolution about humans. By leveraging our knowledge of how to teach evolution in general, we hope to motivate and equip social scientists to begin teaching evolution in the context of their own field.

The field guide is here.