In Part B of Assignment 2, you are going to practice thinking like an evolutionary psychologist. First, read Chapter 3 in the Wade et al. textbook. Then, put on your thinking cap, and respond to the following:.
You are interested in formulating some predictions related to human courtship, specifically about heterosexual men and women. You are interested in looking for evidence of any sex differences in psychological mechanisms (i.e. mental modules, patterns of emotion, thinking, and reasoning) that relate to finding a mate that evolved during our evolutionary history.
You are not so interested in behaviour (because people have to act in the context of their own ecological and cultural conditions, sometimes in spite of how they think, or what they want). As an evolutionary psychologist, you are interested in psychological qualities that are universal, not specific to individual racial or cultural groups. You are going to use your understanding of human ancestral history to make your predictions. This is what you know (or are assuming based on reasonable evidence or logic) has been true for 99% of human evolutionary history:
Reproduction is far “costlier” for women than men: women have limited numbers of eggs; are fertile after menarche up to the approach of menopause, rather than into old age as men are; pregnancy, labour, and delivery are difficult, dangerous, and require enormous physiological resources.
Infant and mother mortality was high due to lack of interventions for breech births, prolonged labour, large babies, puerpal fever, etc.
Breastfeeding was the primary source of nutrition for children and early weaning was unlikely. There was no baby bottle.
Breastfeeding on demand has a contraceptive effect. There was no reliable alternative contraception. Coupled with early infant mortality, population growth was very slow. Families with surviving children were small. Men could have more children than women.
Humans were hunter-gatherers – it’s difficult to track and catch game while breastfeeding. It was essential to follow the food supply, and food was sought daily.
There was little protection against disease or effective treatment for serious injuries.
Now, based on the above, make a list of at least 3 predictions (excluding the example below) about ways of thinking or feeling about courtship and mating that you think should have evolved during our ancestral evolutionary history related to courtship and mating: who makes a good mate; when and with whom should you decide to have sex; what qualities should you value in a mate; are short term relationships different than long term ones; how long should you know someone before partnering; and so on. Note that these considerations could be applied to arranged marriages as well, in terms of the thinking behind who would make a suitable mate for one’s son or daughter, etc.
For each prediction show your logic as it relates to the above assumptions, i.e., “Because there was no reliable contraception, I predict . . . because . . .”
Because contraception is unreliable, I predict that women evolved to be choosier about when to have sex than men because they might get pregnant and each pregnancy is “costly”. In this example, “choosiness’ is both a feeling and a way of thinking; it could be a feeling of unease, or of not feeling ready, or hesitance, etc.
Note that we are not saying that women ARE choosier nowadays – that is a separate prediction that could be tested in research. We are rather trying to predict what would have evolved, based on the logic that human adaptations have mostly been shaped during the 99% of evolutionary history when we were hunter-gatherers. Understanding how those adaptations operate in contemporary environments is a whole other question!
Also note that sexuality is not always heterosexual. Whom we are attracted to and have sex with are interesting issues from a psychological point of view. A significant proportion of the population identifies as non-exclusively heterosexual and always has; we have not evolved as an exclusively heterosexual species. But in the example above, we are looking at the impact over evolutionary time of pregnancy and childcare on decisions about heterosexual partnerships.
Part C
In the third part of Assignment 2, you are in for a treat. You will have the opportunity to watch the original black-and-white film called Obedience, which shows Stanley Milgram’s classic study.
The film shows how Milgram set up his study under the cover story of conducting research into learning. You will see genuine participants as they struggle with the demands of the study. Before you watch the video, read the section describing it in Chapter 8 of the Wade et al. textbook.
Watch Obedience, if this link doesn’t work, use
After you have watched the video, respond to the following questions:
Describe three points in the video that stood out for you, and explain why.
If you were an authority figure trying to get people to comply with your demands to engage in acts that were likely to violate their ethical principles, how would you use your appearance, demeanor, voice, personality, etc. to get compliance? If you threatened violence, you could get people to do nearly anything, but suppose you needed to maintain the relationship, and threats of violence were not an option. What tactics are likely to be most successful? Explain your answer with reference to what you have learned in the video.
The textbook describes how Milgram’s results bear resemblance to obedience to authority seen in prison guards. Find and describe another real-life example of obedience to authority that is not related to prison, and show how it relates to Milgram’s findings.
What should hierarchical systems that depend on obedience to authority, like the military, learn from Milgram’s studies?
Part D
For this part of the assignment, you are going to consider how changes in key life events between 100 years ago and now might have or have not influenced adult development. First, read the Globe and Mail article, “Time machine: What life in Canada was like before the First World War.”
You might have to create a free account before you are able to read the article online
Also consider the following statistics:
Of course, these statistics are not representative of all Canadians. Some Canadians, such as Aboriginal people, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people of colour or from ethnic minority communities, and so on, may have different life expectancies, or fertility rates, or marriage and divorce rates, etc. If you would like to, please do some research on any group or population that is of interest to you, and compare life circumstances between now and 100 years ago (please cite your sources). You may focus on any group that interests you for the next part of the assignment, or you may refer to the Globe and Mail article and statistics above.
After reading above, answer the following questions (remember: you may focus on a specific group of interest as described above):
Compare, contrast, and summarize what is/was considered “on-time” for adult development during these two periods. For example, how does/did timing of events that are typical for each generation affect adult development? What effects are/were cohort-specific? Use examples from the readings above or your own research in your comparison.
Speculate about the social and economic effects of “off-time” events on adult development. For example, while women have always had babies into their forties, having a first baby at age 45 could be considered “off-time” both now and then, but the effects on adult development might be different in these different time periods. What effects are cohort-specific and why? Use examples from the readings above or your own research in your comparison.
Describe how events in your own life to date have followed a typical or non-typical trajectory, and relate to the readings.
Finally, discuss the meaning of aging both now and historically with respect to the discussion of Erikson’s stages of development
These are some statistics to consider

Part E
Self-Actualization Viewed through Biography
For this part of the assignment, you will have the opportunity to think more deeply about humanist approaches to psychology, specifically, about Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.
Next, you are going to read a contemporary view of Maslow’s theory by Scott Barry Kaufman from Scientific American, “What does it mean to be self-actualized in the 21st century?”
As you will see, Kaufman has looked at Maslow’s ideas through a scientific lens, and created a new scale of self-actualization comprising 10 characteristics. You may wish to read more about Kaufman’s work, including his publications in scholarly journals – go to You can take Kaufman’s “Characteristics of Self-Actualization” test and others on his website.
For this part of the assignment, you are going to apply Kaufman’s 10 characteristics of self-actualization to yourself, but in a theoretical way. For each characteristic, rate yourself as high or low, and then give an example to support your rating.
Once you have completed examples for all 10 items, write a brief paragraph outlining how this activity relates to one or more other aspects of your life that Kaufman states are related to self-actualization: life satisfaction, curiosity, self-acceptance, positive relationships, environmental mastery, personal growth, autonomy, and purpose in life.

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