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Discuss evolutionary explanations of intelligence

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Discuss evolutionary explanations of intelligence (30 marks) Intelligence has been considered a unique feature of human beings as it gives us the ability to devise elaborate strategies for solving problems. There are three key evolutionary explanations of intelligence, which are, foraging/ecological, social and sexual selection. Foraging is when animals learn food preferences from others. This ability has clear survival advantages because the animal can learn from others rather than using trial and error process to identify which foods are harmful. The larger the range of food required, the larger the foraging area must be and the greater the requirement for more complex abilities. Many primates have to balance their diet by selective eating through successful hunting, which requires forethought, planning, cunning and the ability to coordinate the actions of a number of individuals. Finding food over a particular area may require a cognitive map (memorized spatial knowledge).Obtaining the food requires tool use and hunting techniques, which is another indication of intelligence in both human and non-human species. Visalberghi and Trinca (1987) did a study to look at the effects of tool use. Capuchin monkeys were given task of pushing peanut butter out of a tube. They found that the monkeys were quick at finding a suitable stick but tried out many unsuitable ones first. ...read more.


It has been suggested that intelligence is an evolutionary adaptation for solving social problems. The most intelligent species are the social animals, which are bees, parrots, dolphins, elephants, wolves, monkeys, etc. The group living could have set the stage for the evolution of intelligence in two ways; sociality which increases the value of having better information, because information is one commodity that that can be given away and kept at the same time. For example a more intelligent animal within a group has the benefit of knowledge and what it can get in exchange for the knowledge. Secondly group living itself has new cognitive challenges. Social animals send and receive signals to coordinate predation, defence, and foraging and sexual behaviour. They exchange favours, repay and enforce debts, punish cheaters and join coalitions. Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis came from various related hypotheses, which Bryne and Whiten (1988) brought together. This suggests that deceiving and detecting deception are the primary reason for the evolution of intelligence. Evidence supports this, as Bryne and Whiten (1992) have shown that there is a strong positive correlation between neocortex ratio and the prevalence of tactical deception in various primates and this implies that there is a clear relationship between social manipulation and intelligence. Cosmides (1989) has shown how human intelligence is specially adapted to deal with social problem solving. ...read more.


Support for the sexiness of intelligence comes from research investigating what characteristics people seek in a partner and it was found that intelligence came consistently at the top of the list. In the EEA meat was an important source of saturated fat. Stanford believes that strategic sharing of meat paved the way for human intelligence, as it will have forged alliances, persuaded females to mate (i.e. 'meat for sex hypothesis'). Strategic meat sharing requires considerable cognitive abilities because males would have to keep a running score of debts, credits and relationships. Evidence from the animal kingdom supports the meat for sex hypothesis, because male chimps use meat to entice females, often withholding it until mating and when begging for meat receptive females have more success than non-receptive. Evidence also comes from human societies, in terms of the Ache in Paraguay. Mitani and Watts (2001)showed that male chimps share with each other more than females due to alliances rather than sex. It can be concluded that intelligence is a key component in the adaptability of a species. Three main theories have been proposed for the evolution of intelligence, which are, ecological, social and sexual selection. At this time the social theory provides the more plausible explanation of intelligence. However all of these ideas are continuing to be researched, so that an even more reliable explanation of the evolution of intelligence can be produced in the near future. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rebecca Johnson Mrs. Scarlett 25/10 ...read more.

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