Douglas T. Kenrick

Douglas T. Kenrick
Arizona State University | ASU · Department of Psychology

Ph.D. Social Psychology

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195
Publications
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Publications

Publications (195)
Article
Friendships provide material benefits, bolster health, and may help solve adaptive challenges. However, a recurrent obstacle to sustaining those friendships—and thus enjoying many friendship-mediated fitness benefits—is interference from other people. Friendship jealousy may be well-designed for helping both men and women meet the recurrent, adapti...
Article
An article published in Current Directions a decade ago introduced the fundamental-motives framework and reviewed initial promising findings using this general approach. According to this framework, a recurring set of challenges and opportunities during human evolution gave rise to overarching motivational systems in the domains of self-protection,...
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How have people’s fundamental social motives changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? In data collected from 32 countries before the onset of the pandemic, we saw that a) people prioritized family-related motives (romantic relationship maintenance and kin care) over mate-acquisition motives (mate-seeking and breakup concern), and b) family-related mot...
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Friendships can foster happiness, health, and reproductive fitness. However, friendships end-even when we might not want them to. A primary reason for this is interference from third parties. Yet, little work has explored how people meet the challenge of maintaining friendships in the face of real or perceived threats from third parties, as when ou...
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What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thorough...
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Religion has often been conceptualized as a collection of beliefs, practices, and proscriptions that lift people’s thoughts and behaviors out of the metaphorical gutter of sex and selfishness toward lives full of meaning, contemplation, and community service. But religious beliefs and behaviors may serve selfish, sexual motivations in ways that are...
Preprint
Full-text available
What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic partner choice (mate-seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thorough...
Article
What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate-seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thorough...
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Full-text available
Replication research holds an increasingly important place in modern psychological science. If such work is to improve the state of knowledge rather than add confusion, however, replication attempts must be held to high standards of rigor. As an example of how replication attempts can add confusion rather than clarity, we consider an article by Sha...
Article
Convincing people who doubt the validity of climate change and evolution to change their beliefs requires overcoming a set of ingrained cognitive biases
Preprint
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Recent work has documented a wide range of important psychological differences across societies. Multiple explanations have been offered for why such differences exist, including historical philosophies, subsistence methods, social mobility, social class, climactic stresses, and religion. With the growing body of theory and data, there is an emergi...
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Abraham Maslow’s classic theory of motivation was in some ways a precursor to modern evolutionary approaches to human behavior, in that he posited multiple independent and universal motivational systems. Maslow’s hierarchical model, often conceptualized as a pyramid of motives, has recently been renovated to fit with the last half century of resear...
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A new theoretical tool called life history theory offers an answer
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Maslow’s self-actualization remains a popular notion in academic research as well as popular culture. The notion that life’s highest calling is fulfilling one’s own unique potential has been widely appealing. But what do people believe they are doing when they pursue the realization of their full, unique potentials? Here, we examine lay perceptions...
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An evolutionary perspective on human motivation provides a means of identifying conceptually distinct motivational systems (including motives pertaining to self-protection, disease avoidance, affiliation, status, mate acquisition, mate retention, and parental care), each of which has unique implications for affect, cognition, and behavior. We provi...
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The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the...
Article
For women, forming close, cooperative relationships with other women at once poses important opportunities and possible threats-including to mate retention. To maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of same-sex social relationships, we propose that women's mate guarding is functionally flexible and that women are sensitive to both interperson...
Chapter
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Social psychology holds a central place in human evolution. Much of human behavior is organized around a relatively small set of fundamental motives, each linked to a major adaptive challenge posed by ancestral environments. This chapter organizes research and theory in evolutionary social psychology around seven key motivational domains of social...
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Intrasexual conflict may pose unique challenges for women. Whereas men’s aggression tends to be physical and direct, women’s tends to be relational and indirect, particularly when directed toward other women. Moreover, women’s expressions of anger are often suppressed, perhaps particularly when other women are the targets. Thus, women may face diff...
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Motivation has long been recognized as an important component of how people both differ from, and are similar to, each other. The current research applies the biologically grounded fundamental social motives framework, which assumes that human motivational systems are functionally shaped to manage the major costs and benefits of social life, to und...
Article
When it comes to sexual competition, men and women play somewhat different games. To understand why, it helps to step back and consider our species in the context of elephants, pygmy shrews in Madagascar, and clownfish that change sex as they mature. From studying the wide range of vertebrate life histories, biological theorists have extracted a se...
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Proximate selfish goals reflect the machinations of more fundamental goals such as self-protection and reproduction. Evolutionary life history theory allows us to make predictions about which goals are prioritized over others, which stimuli release which goals, and how the stages of cognitive processing are selectively influenced to better achieve...
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Why does beauty win out at the ballot box? Some researchers have posited that it occurs because people ascribe generally positive characteristics to physically attractive candidates. We propose an alternative explanation-that leadership preferences are related to functional disease-avoidance mechanisms. Because physical attractiveness is a cue to h...
Chapter
Evolutionary approaches to social cognition investigate how cognition may be intrinsically linked to long-recurring adaptive challenges of human social life. Prominent features of the evolutionary approach include the ideas that cognition is systematically modulated by fitness-relevant fundamental goals (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance, so...
Chapter
Evolutionary approaches to social cognition investigate how cognition may be intrinsically linked to long-recurring adaptive challenges of human social life. Prominent features of the evolutionary approach include the ideas that cognition is systematically modulated by fitness-relevant fundamental goals (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance, so...
Article
How do economic recessions influence attitudes toward redistribution of wealth? From a traditional economic self-interest perspective, attitudes toward redistribution should be affected by one's financial standing. A functional evolutionary approach suggests another possible form of self-interest: That during periods of economic threat, attitudes t...
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Can we better understand modern consumer behavior by examining its links to our ancestral past? We consider the underlying motives for consumption and choice from an evolutionary perspective. We review evidence that deep-seated evolutionary motives continue to influence much modern behavior, albeit not always in obvious or conscious ways. These fun...
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The commentaries raise questions about modularity, and about the evidence required to establish evolutionary influences on behavior. We briefly discuss evidence leading evolutionary psychologists to assume that human choices reflect evolutionary influences, and to assume some degree of modularity in human information processing. An evolutionary per...
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Diversification of resources is a strategy found everywhere from the level of microorganisms to that of giant Wall Street investment firms. We examine the functional nature of diversification using life-history theory-a framework for understanding how organisms navigate resource-allocation trade-offs. This framework suggests that diversification ma...
Chapter
From an evolutionary perspective, human relationships are shaped by multiple cognitive and affective mechanisms designed to solve long-recurring problems and opportunities faced by our ancestors. Different relationships—romantic, parental, friendship, acquaintanceship—differ in the threats and opportunities they afford. Because of this, the psychol...
Chapter
Evolutionary social psychology is the study of how people think about, feel about, and behave toward others, as viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology. This approach to social psychology synthesizes developments in several fields, including zoology, ecology, cognitive neuroscience, and anthropology. The beginning premise is that all recurr...
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In this chapter, the authors first review general assumptions of an evolutionary approach to behavior. Second, they review how differences and similarities in behavior within and across species can be understood in light of an evolutionary life-history model. A life-history model considers the developmental trajectory of an organism in terms of the...
Article
Humans have perennially faced threats of violence from other humans and have developed functional strategies for surviving those threats. Five studies examined the relation between threats of violence and agreeableness at the level of nations, individuals, and situations. People living in countries with higher military spending (Study 1) and those...
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Consumer psychologists have devoted a great deal of research to understanding human social influence processes. Research on social influence could be enriched by incorporating several evolutionary principles, and viewing social influence processes through an adaptationist lens. Our central argument is that different social relationships are associa...
Article
When anger or happiness flashes on a face in the crowd, do we misperceive that emotion as belonging to someone else? Two studies found that misperception of apparent emotional expressions - "illusory conjunctions" - depended on the gender of the target: male faces tended to "grab" anger from neighboring faces, and female faces tended to grab happin...
Article
Much research shows that people are loss averse, meaning that they weigh losses more heavily than gains. Drawing on an evolutionary perspective, we propose that although loss aversion might have been adaptive for solving challenges in the domain of self-protection, this may not be true for men in the domain of mating. Three experiments examine how...
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Classic economic models presumed that human decision-makers are rational, making self-serving strategic choices based on full information about alternatives. Behavioral economic models assume decision processes are bounded by limited information, leading to biased and irrational choices that are often based on immediately salient cues. An evolution...
Article
Much research shows that people are loss-averse, meaning that they weigh losses more heavily than gains. From an evolutionary perspective, loss aversion would be expected to increase or decrease as a function of adaptive context. For example, loss aversion could have helped deal with challenges in the domain of selfprotection, but would not have be...
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Detecting signs that someone is a member of a hostile outgroup can depend on very subtle cues. How do ecology-relevant motivational states affect such detections? This research investigated the detection of briefly-presented enemy (versus friend) insignias after participants were primed to be self-protective or revenge-minded. Despite being told to...
Article
Would we lie to ourselves? We don't need to. Rather than a single self equipped with a few bivariate processes, the mind is composed of a dissociated aggregation of subselves processing qualitatively different information relevant to different adaptive problems. Each subself selectively processes the information coming in to the brain as well as in...
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Adaptations are psychological and behavioral mechanisms designed through evolution to serve specific purposes ultimately related to reproductive success. Although adaptations are inherently functional, in some cases their operation can nevertheless cause personal and social dysfunction. We describe a theoretical framework for understanding, predict...
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Conspicuous consumption is a form of economic behavior in which self-presentational concerns override desires to obtain goods at bargain prices. Showy spending may be a social signal directed at potential mates. We investigated such signals by examining (a) which individuals send them, (b) which contexts trigger them, and (c) how observers interpre...
Article
A number of studies have found a disjunction between women's attention to, and memory for, handsome men. Although women pay initial attention to handsome men, they do not remember those men later. The present study examines how ovulation might differentially affect these attentional and memory processes. We found that women near ovulation increased...
Chapter
1. What is Evolutionary Social Psychology? 2. Important Assumptions and Conceptual Tools 3. The Affordance Management System 4. Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychological Phenomena 5. Linkages to Development, Learning, and Culture 6. Thinking Straight about Theory and Research in Evolutionary Social Psychology 7. Future Directions 8. Final C...
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Four thoughtful commentaries identify important issues and insights pertaining to the pyramid of needs presented by Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, and Schaller (2010, this issue). Here, we offer additional thoughts on some of these issues and insights, with an emphasis on the logical implications that result from an evolutionary analysis of fundam...
Article
Maslow's pyramid of human needs, proposed in 1943, has been one of the most cognitively contagious ideas in the behavioral sciences. Anticipating later evolutionary views of human motivation and cognition, Maslow viewed human motives as based in innate and universal predispositions. We revisit the idea of a motivational hierarchy in light of theore...
Article
When encountering individuals with a potential inclination to harm them, people face a dilemma: Staring at them provides useful information about their intentions but may also be perceived by them as intrusive and challenging-thereby increasing the likelihood of the very threat the people fear. One solution to this dilemma would be an enhanced abil...
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It has been presumed that religiosity has an influence on mating behavior, but here we experimentally investigate the possibility that mating behavior might also influence religiosity. In Experiment 1, people reported higher religiosity after looking at mating pools consisting of attractive people of their own sex compared to attractive opposite se...
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Social living brings humans great rewards, but also associated dangers, such as increased risk of infection from others. Although the body's immune system is integral to combating disease, it is physiologically costly. Less costly are evolved mechanisms for promoting avoidance of people who are potentially infectious, such as perceiving oneself as...
Article
Fundamental motives have direct implications for evolutionary fitness and orchestrate attention, memory, and social inference in functionally specific ways. Motivational states linked to self-protection and mating offer illustrative examples. When self-protective motives are aroused, people show enhanced attention to, and memory for, angry male str...
Article
In the traditional, information-processing model of cognition the human mind does well with lyrics, but it just can’t dance. Real life is like a musical, rich with elaborate sets, costumes, music, and movement as well as dialogue, and impossible to appreciate fully just by reading the script. That’s not to say that words are unimportant: They carry...
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What is a "rational" decision? Economists traditionally viewed rationality as maximizing expected satisfaction. This view has been useful in modeling basic microeconomic concepts, but falls short in accounting for many everyday human decisions. It leaves unanswered why some things reliably make people more satisfied than others, and why people freq...
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Given the strength of Archer's case for a sexual selection account, he is too accommodating of the social roles alternative. We present data on historical changes in violent crime contradicting that perspective, and discuss recent evidence showing how an evolutionary perspective predicts sex similarities and differences responding in a flexible and...
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Does seeing a scowling face change your impression of the next person you see? Does this depend on the race of the two people? Across four studies, White participants evaluated neutrally expressive White males as less threatening when they followed angry (relative to neutral) White faces; Black males were not judged as less threatening following an...
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How do arousal-inducing contexts, such as frightening or romantic television programs, influence the effectiveness of basic persuasion heuristics? Different predictions are made by three theoretical models: A general arousal model predicts that arousal should increase effectiveness of heuristics; an affective valence model predicts that effectivene...
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Given the high costs of aggression, why have people evolved to act aggressively? Comparative biologists have frequently observed links between aggression, status, and mating in nonhuman animals. In this series of experiments, the authors examined the effects of status, competition, and mating motives on men's and women's aggression. For men, status...
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Do people help each other form romantic relationships? Research on the role of the social environment in relationship formation has traditionally focused on competition, but this article investigates novel patterns of cooperation within courtship interactions. Drawing on a functional/evolutionary perspective, women are predicted to cooperate primar...
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Evolutionary models of behavior often encounter resistance due to an apparent focus on themes of sex, selfishness, and gender differences. The target article might seem ripe for such criticism. However, life history theory suggests that these themes, and their counterparts, including cooperation, generosity, and gender similarities, represent two s...
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The unfavorable treatment of people with physical disfigurements is well-documented, yet little is known about basic perceptual and cognitive responses to disfigurement. Here, we identify a specialized pattern of cognitive processing consistent with the hypothesis that disfigurements act as heuristic cues to contagious disease. Disfigurements are o...
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We argue that a central function of religious attendance in the contemporary U.S. is to support a high-fertility, monogamous mating strategy. Although religious attendance is correlated with many demographic, personality, moral, and behavioral variables, we propose that sexual and family variables are at the core of many of these relationships. Num...
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Social living provides opportunities for cooperative interdependence and concomitant opportunities to obtain help from others in times of need. Nevertheless, people frequently refuse help from others, even when it would be beneficial. Decisions to accept or reject aid offers may provide a window into the adaptive trade-offs recipients make between...
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An evolutionary perspective suggests that there are multiple approach and avoidance systems at the functional and neurological levels, designed to deal with the unique problems regularly encountered by ancestral humans. Particular approach or avoidance mechanisms are likely to be triggered by functionally relevant factors in the immediate environme...
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We tested the hypothesis that, compared with sociosexually restricted individuals, those with an unrestricted approach to mating would selectively allocate visual attention to attractive opposite-sex others. We also tested for sex differences in this effect. Seventy-four participants completed the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory, and performed a...
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Although unrelated friends are genetically equivalent to strangers, several lines of reasoning suggest that close friendship may sometimes activate processes more relevant to kinship and that this may be especially true for women. We compared responses to strangers, friends, and kin in two studies designed to address distinct domains for which kins...
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Conspicuous displays of consumption and benevolence might serve as "costly signals" of desirable mate qualities. If so, they should vary strategically with manipulations of mating-related motives. The authors examined this possibility in 4 experiments. Inducing mating goals in men increased their willingness to spend on conspicuous luxuries but not...
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Findings of 7 studies suggested that decisions about the sex of a face and the emotional expressions of anger or happiness are not independent: Participants were faster and more accurate at detecting angry expressions on male faces and at detecting happy expressions on female faces. These findings were robust across different stimulus sets and judg...