Life Through the Lens of Evolutionary Psychology


There are many lenses with which to look at the world—many ways to explain why it is the way it is.

  • You can see the world as a series of economic incentives, and map how they interact

  • One might see it as a constant drive to power and advancement, where the strong perpetually dominates the weak

  • Or perhaps it’s seen through the window of individuality, where everyone’s unique desires mix and blend with those of other people

But I think these are all subordinate to the lens of evolutionary psychology.

Capitalism is not “materialistic,” but “semiotic.” It concerns mainly the psychological world of signs, symbols, images, and brands. ~ Spent

I’ve been on this trail for a number of years now, but I’m currently reading this book, Spent, that pulls it into unbelievable focus. Its subtitle is Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior, and that captures it really well.

I highly recommend the book.

But returning to the concept, it may be that understanding our key primal drives, as they relate to survival as a species, is the best way to understand modern behavior.

The Naturalistic Fallacy is something to avoid here, however, as we don’t want to justify undesirable behavior by pointing out that it’s natural (getting an ought from an is), but what we can do is face squarely the drives that propel us, and contemplate how to best co-exist with them.

It’s sobering work, to be sure. This lens has the effect of reducing your aspirations to a series of grunts and fumbles not dissimilar from a caveman trying to earn a mate.

But maybe that’s helpful. This perspective also has the unifying effect of demonstrating that we all really are the same when it comes to these core desires.

I hope to enjoy the analysis and fruit that come from looking at more of the world in this way, and I suggest that you try the same.


  1. Thanks to Jon Robinson for the recommendation.

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