Careers Using Evolutionary Psychology


According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, evolutionary psychology is a "biologically informed approach to the study of human behavior." In other words, evolutionary psychologists believe that behavior can be explained by the internal mechanisms that we have developed over time through the process of natural selection. Because evolutionary psychology is simply a way of viewing psychology, evolutionary psychologists can work in all the fields that psychologists do. However, some careers are more popular than others among evolutionary psychologists.


  • According to Cornell evolutionary biologist Paul Sherman, Darwinian medicine requires us to ask whether a symptom is pathological or is the body's adaptive response. Many evolutionary psychologists are applying this approach to mental health disorders. For example, Edward Hagen has explored the evolutionary source and benefit of depression in his article, "The Bargaining Model of Depression." By exploring health through the lens of evolutionary psychology, evolutionary psychologists seek to discover new ways to treat and think about familiar illnesses.


  • Many colleges and universities now have evolutionary psychology departments. Often, professors who teach evolutionary psychology work closely with the anthropology department. Moreover, according to the American Psychological Association, many professors consult or see clients on a part time basis.


  • According to the American Psychological Association, many psychologists work with schools to improve the effectiveness of teaching and student learning. This is particularly true among evolutionary psychologists, to the point that a subspeciality has evolved commonly referred to as "evolutionary educational pscyhologists." At the forefront of this movement is David C. Geary, who wrote the book entitled "Educating the Evolved Mind: Reflections and Refinements." Geary's research into the difference between biologically primary knowledge and biologically secondary knowledge has served as a basis for developing more effective ways to teach school children.


  • Perhaps most commonly, evolutionary psychologists conduct research. While some research takes place in laboratory settings, researchers may also work out in the field in such locations as schools, hospitals and various workplaces. Evolutionary psychologists who conduct research may work for universities, private organizations or the government (e.g., National Institutes of Health).


  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for psychologists was $86,120 in 2009. The median annual wage for post-secondary psychology teachers was $63,630 in 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth until 2016 is expected to be faster than average. Additionally, job prospects will be best for people who have a doctoral degree from a leading university in an applied specialty (such as evolutionary psychology).


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