Are We Still Cavemen When It Comes To Love? | Todd Shackelford, Ph.D.

When most people talk about evolutionary psychology they will give the example of a caveman in the wilderness that hears a rustle in the bushes. This caveman from 1 million years ago can think it is just the wind or a lion that’s about to eat him. Without knowing this caveman will have three ways to react; fight, flight or freeze. Even though we are now modern super sophisticated homosapiens that never come across a lion in our iphone and internet world we still have the same reaction as our million year old caveman ancestors when something unexpected happens. It may not be a lion but a surprise email from our boss’s boss can strike fear to our core when we don’t know if we are getting a promotion or fired. We will have the same fight, flight or freeze reaction as our caveman ancestor. You may see the email; freeze and think of what this surprise email is all about. Or you could run away from it and refuse to open it. Or you could get all worked up and be ready to argue a point you don’t even know what it is yet. Evolutionary psychology is a hybrid discipline that draws insights from modern evolutionary theory, biology, cognitive psychology, anthropology, economics, computer science, and paleoarchaeology.

Our guest today, Todd Shackelford, Ph.D. is distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychology at Oakland University and Co-Director of the Evolutionary Psychology Lab. The focus of the Evolutionary Psychology Lab is on the psychology of close relationships, particularly romantic relationships. They study phenomena such as jealousy, infidelity, relationship satisfaction, physical abuse, and sexuality. Current research projects include a diary study of conflict within married couples, and a study of couples involved in violent relationships. Another line of work addresses murder and violence, particularly in romantic relationships, using national crime data.

Todd does a great job of helping us all understand ourselves better and how to use this to have a better relationship with others.


Jeff Harrison