The Evolution of Domain-General Mechanisms in Intelligence and Learning

Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California, United States
The Journal of General Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.04). 02/2005; 132(1):5-40. DOI: 10.3200/GENP.132.1.5-40
Source: PubMed


For both humans and animals, domain-general mechanisms are fallible but powerful tools for attaining evolutionary goals (e.g., resources) in uncertain, novel environments that were not recurrent features of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Domain-general mechanisms interact in complex ways with domain-specific, information-encapsulated modules, most importantly by manipulating information obtained from various modules in attempting to solve novel problems. Mechanisms of general intelligence, particularly the executive functions of working memory, underlie analogical reasoning as well as the decontextualization processes that are central to human thought. Although there is a variety of evolved, special purpose learning devices, learning is also characterized by domain-general mechanisms that are able to achieve evolutionary goals by making novel and serendipitous associations with environmental cues.

Download full-text


Available from: Dan Chiappe,
21 Reads
    • "This suggests that some form of general intelligence (Colom, Jung, & Haier, 2006) might underlie the evolution of primate cognition, and that these different cognitive abilities have co-evolved together (Deaner et al., 2006; Reader et al., 2011). Some researchers have argued that the selection of modular specializations requires repeated encounters with environmental conditions that favor them (Chiappe & MacDonald, 2005). As "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the last years, researchers have focused in answering the question of how innovative behaviour, the basis of creativity, may be favoured evolutionarily. In primates, a group characterized with large brains and examples of outstanding cognitive abilities, there seems to be large support linking encephalization and innovation, although the question of why some species are more innovation-prone than others of similar brain size still requires a more detailed answer.
    Animal Creativity and Innovation, 1st edited by Allison B. Kaufman, James C. Kaufman, 07/2015: chapter 9: pages 241-285; Elsevier., ISBN: 978-0-12-800648-1
  • Source
    • "This perspective suggests a framework for the continued development of still-rare ecological studies of criminal decision-making (Snook et al., 2011). It might be worthwhile in that context to explore how domain-specific processes relate (or not) to domain-general processes (Chiappe and MacDonald, 2005), as well as to niche construction (Laland and Brown, 2006). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A recent disciplinary offshoot of criminology, crime science (CS) defines itself as "the application of science to the control of crime." One of its stated ambitions is to act as a cross-disciplinary linchpin in the domain of crime reduction. Despite many practical successes, notably in the area of situational crime prevention (SCP), CS has yet to achieve a commensurate level of academic visibility. The case is made that the growth of CS is stifled by its reliance on a model of decision-making, the Rational Choice Perspective (RCP), which is inimical to the integration of knowledge and insights from the behavioral, cognitive and neurosciences (CBNs). Examples of salient developments in the CBNs are provided, as regards notably multiple-system perspectives of decision-making and approaches to person-environment interaction. Short and long-term benefits of integration for CS are briefly outlined.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10/2013; 7:682. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00682 · 3.63 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "General intelligence refers to the ability to reason deductively or inductively, think abstractly , use analogies, synthesize information, and apply it to new domains (Gottfredson, 1997; Neisser et al., 1996). The concept of general intelligence poses a problem for evolutionary psychology (Chiappe & MacDonald, 2005; Cosmides & Tooby, 2002; Miller, 2000a). Evolutionary psychologists contend that the human brain consists of domainspecific evolved psychological mechanisms, which evolved to solve specific adaptive problems (problems of survival and reproduction) in specific domains. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Why so many people make the theoretically irrational decision to cooperate in a one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma game remains a puzzle in game theory. Recent developments in evolutionary psychology suggest that the anomaly may be attributable to evolutionary constraints on the human brain and their interaction with general intelligence. We conduct a laboratory experiment to test three hypotheses: (a) projection of a video image of another experimental subject increases cooperation because the human brain implicitly assumes that their choice is not anonymous; (b) more intelligent individuals are more likely to defect, because they are more likely to comprehend the evolutionarily novel features of the experiment that make defection rational; and (c) the effect of the video projection on cooperation is greater among less intelligent individuals. The experiment clearly supports two of the three hypotheses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
    Journal of Neuroscience Psychology and Economics 09/2013; 6(3):201. DOI:10.1037/npe0000010
Show more