Study Guide for Exam 1; EP Fall 2012

Evolutionary Psychology; PSY 307; section 1; Mid-Term study sheet; Fall, 2012

SUNY New Paltz; Instructor, Glenn Geher

Study sheet for first exam. Note that the study sheet is fully in essay format – but the exam will include both an essay and multiple-choice items. All questions will generally be based on the content that pertains to these essays (along with the readings and lectures from class). If you can write good answers to these essays, you should be able to do well on the exam. I also suggest that you make sure to do all the readings and take notes on the main points of the readings – and take notes on your notes to also extrapolate the main points.

And don’t hesitate to let me or any of the TAs know if you have any questions.


  1. Briefly describe Gallup’s (2003) idea of the human penis a semen-displacement mechanism. In your answer, address how the findings from this research explicate the “selfish gene” view of evolution
  2. Miller et al.’s (2007) research argues against the idea of “concealed ovulation.” What evidence do they present to argue against this idea? How does non-concealed ovulation make sense from an evolutionary perspective?
  3. Explain the idea of mismatch theory in terms of evolution. In your answer, explain the idea of the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness. Be able to give examples of how modern human contexts mismatch ancestral contexts in important ways.
  4. Geher (2006) argues that evolutionary psychology is not evil. Describe specifically how he presents this field as highly situationistic and as very discrete from eugenics
  5. Ketelaar and Ellis (2000) argue that evolutionary psychology provides a coherent meta-theory for understanding all of psychology. Explain what a “meta-theory” is – and explain how these authors argue that evolutionary psychology is “progressive,” leads to novel research questions, and is able to “digest anomalies” in a way that no other field can.
  6. Buss et al. describe the notion of “spandrels” relative to “adaptations.” Describe each of these concepts – and address how the idea of “spandrel” may relate to evolutionary psychology.
  7. Schmitt and Pilcher (2004) provide a clear sense how we can document evidence for an evolutionary adaptation.  Discuss several of the forms of evidence that they describe – and be able to address how research by Profet on pregnancy sickness provides a strong model of how to document an evolutionary adaptation within evolutionary psychology.
  8. Gangestad and Simpson (2000) argue for the idea of strategic pluralism in human mating. What is this basic idea – and what does it imply regarding the characterization of evolutionary psychology as an immutable doctrine on human nature? Finally, what are some male and female-specific mating adapatations that they describe – and how can these be understood from an evolutionary perspective?
  9. Geher and Kaufman talk about various mating strategies employed by males and females. Be able to describe several male-specific and female-specific strategies – as well as the evolutionary reasoning that underlies these different strategies. Finally, address how life history strategy is conceptualized as having a significant impact on both male and female mating strategies.
  10. Keller (2008) argues that the most important part of mating intelligence has to do with being “mutation phobic” in mate choice. How is this process adaptive? How would such a mutation phobia benefit an individual’s genes into future generations?
  11. Describe the basic ideas of natural selection, fitness, reproductive success, mismatch theory, mutation, and sexual selection.
  12. Describe parental investment theory as it pertains to understanding reproductive systems that characterize particular species as well as how this theory helps us understand sex-differentiated mating strategies within species.
  13. Describe features of female-specific mating strategies in humans – and address how David Buss explains these strategies in terms of parental investment theory. Also, describe several specific research findings that support this evolutionary perspective on female mating.
  14. Describe features of male-specific mating strategies in humans – and address how David Buss explains these strategies in terms of parental investment theory. Also, describe several specific research findings that support this evolutionary perspective on male mating.
  15. Describe the basic ideas of Geoffrey Miller’s (2000) theory of mental fitness indicators. In your answer, address the importance of traits which are (a) partly heritable, (b) conspicuously observable, (c) highly variable across individuals, (d) without clear survival value, and (e) manifest across cultures. Be sure to address the role that sexual selection is posited to have in shaping these traits.


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