ArticlePublisher preview available

Human Biological and Psychological Diversity

Authors:
  • Independent Scholar
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract and Figures

Many evolutionary psychologists have asserted that there is a panhuman nature, a species typical psychological structure that is invariant across human populations. Although many social scientists dispute the basic assumptions of evolutionary psychology, they seem widely to agree with this hypothesis. Psychological differences among human populations (demes, ethnic groups, races) are almost always attributed to cultural and sociological forces in the relevant literatures. However, there are strong reasons to suspect that the hypothesis of a panhuman nature is incorrect. Humans migrated out of Africa at least 50,000 years ago and occupied many different ecological and climatological niches. Because of this, they evolved slightly different anatomical and physiological traits. For example, Tibetans evolved various traits that help them cope with the rigors of altitude; similarly, the Inuit evolved various traits that help them cope with the challenges of a very cold environment. It is likely that humans also evolved slightly different psychological traits as a response to different selection pressures in different environments and niches. One possible example is the high intelligence of the Ashkenazi Jewish people. Frank discussions of such differences among human groups have provoked strong ethical concerns in the past. We understand those ethical concerns and believe that it is important to address them. However, we also believe that the benefits of discussing possible human population differences outweigh the costs.
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
THEORETICAL ARTICLE
Human Biological and Psychological Diversity
Bo Winegard
1
&Benjamin Winegard
2
&Brian Boutwell
3
Published online: 17 January 2017
#Springer International Publishing 2017
Abstract Many evolutionary psychologists have asserted
that there is a panhuman nature, a species typical psycholog-
ical structure that is invariant across human populations.
Although many social scientists dispute the basic assumptions
of evolutionary psychology, they seem widely to agree with
this hypothesis. Psychological differences among human pop-
ulations (demes, ethnic groups, races) are almost always at-
tributed to cultural and sociological forces in the relevant lit-
eratures. However, there are strong reasons to suspect that the
hypothesis of a panhuman nature is incorrect. Humans migrat-
ed out of Africa at least 50,000 years ago and occupied many
different ecological and climatological niches. Because of
this, they evolved slightly different anatomical and physiolog-
ical traits. For example, Tibetans evolved various traits that
help them cope with the rigors of altitude; similarly, the Inuit
evolved various traits that help them cope with the challenges
of a very cold environment. It is likely that humans also
evolved slightly different psychological traits as a response
to different selection pressures in different environments and
niches. One possible example is the high intelligence of the
Ashkenazi Jewish people. Frank discussions of such differ-
ences among human groups have provoked strong ethical
concerns in the past. We understand those ethical concerns
and believe that it is important to address them. However,
we also believe that the benefits of discussing possible human
population differences outweigh the costs.
Keywords Differences .Diversity .Evolution .Genetics .
Populations .Psychology .Race
Introduction
The Arctic is a horrifically cold, often bleak, and an almost
perpetually snow-covered region of the globe with long, dark
winters and brief summers. During those long winters, tem-
peratures often range between 40 and 0 °F. And yet, the
Arctic is not a desolate desert of snow. Roughly 400,000 na-
tive peoples inhabit the region and have been there since well
before the invention of space heaters or electric underwear.
How do these people meet the exigencies of survival in such
a cold, inhospitable environment?
The answer is a combination of cultural and biological
adaptations. The Inuit, for example, have developed a sophis-
ticated array of tools and weapons to facilitate survival in their
harsh environment (Kelly 2013). They have learned effective
ways of hunting and fishing calorie-dense animals such as
seals and whales. Cultural transmission alone, however, is
not responsible for the Inuitsremarkablecapacitytothrive
in the Arctic. They also have various physiological (and per-
haps even psychological) adaptations that allow them to func-
tion in the cold, including fat insulation of vital organs, bodies
with a high volume to surface area ratio, and a high basal
metabolic rate which produces more body heat than other
*Bo Winegard
winegard@psy.fsu.edu; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/
Bo_Winegard
Benjamin Winegard
bwinegard@carroll.edu; http://www.carroll.edu/bwinegard/index.cc
Brian Boutwell
boutwellb@slu.edu; http://www.slu.edu/college-for-public-health-
and-social-justice/contact-us/brian-boutwell-phd
1
Psychology Department, Florida State University, 1107 West Call
Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301, USA
2
Psychology Department, Carroll College, 1601 N Benton Ave,
Helena, MT 59625, USA
3
School of Social Work, Department of Epidemiology, Saint Louis
University, One Grand Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63103-2097, USA
Evolutionary Psychological Science (2017) 3:159180
DOI 10.1007/s40806-016-0081-5
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Similarly, in an article on self-esteem differences among human populations, Twenge and Crocker (2002) Mallon, 2007 for an account of the social constructionist position; and see also Livingstone & Dobzhansky, 1962: Winegard, Winegard, & Boutwell, 2017, but the notion that there could not be self-esteem differences between genetically different populations for genetic reasons is not obviously true and was simply assumed by the authors, who proceeded to adjudicate between different cultural and non-biological/genetic explanations of self-esteem differences (see also Risch, Burchard, Ziv, & Tang, 2002). The point of these examples is not that all of these differences are at least partially genetic in origin, but rather that researchers rejected genetic hypotheses without substantial evidence and argument and likely were able to do so only because all authors, reviewers, and editors shared equalitarian worldviews which reject nonenvironmentally caused group differences in socially valued traits a priori. ...
Article
Full-text available
We argue that because of a long history of intergroup conflict and competition, humans evolved to be tribal creatures. Tribalism is not inherently bad, but it can lead to ideological thinking and sacred values that distort cognitive processing of putatively objective information in ways that affirm and strengthen the views and well-being of one’s ingroup (and that increase one’s own standing within one’s ingroup). Because of this shared evolutionary history of intergroup conflict, liberals and conservatives likely share the same underlying tribal psychology, which creates the potential for ideologically distorted information processing. Over the past several decades, social scientists have sedulously documented various tribal and ideological psychological tendencies on the political right, and more recent work has documented similar tendencies on the political left. We contend that these tribal tendencies and propensities can lead to ideologically distorted information processing in any group. And this ideological epistemology can become especially problematic for the pursuit of the truth when groups are ideologically homogenous and hold sacred values that might be contradicted by empirical inquiry. Evidence suggests that these conditions might hold for modern social science; therefore, we conclude by exploring potential ideologically driven distortions in the social sciences.
... If there is meaningful, evolved, genetically based psychological diversity among geographic human populations, this has far-reaching implications for several areas of science (Winegard, Winegard, & Boutwell, 2017) as well as philosophy. We cannot understand the nature and evolution of intelligence unless we can explain why selection favored different levels of general intelligence, or specific intelligences, under different conditions. ...
Article
Full-text available
In a very short time, it is likely that we will identify many of the genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence. We should be prepared for the possibility that these variants are not distributed identically among all geographic populations, and that this explains some of the phenotypic differences in measured intelligence among groups. However, some philosophers and scientists believe that we should refrain from conducting research that might demonstrate the (partly) genetic origin of group differences in IQ. Many scholars view academic interest in this topic as inherently morally suspect or even racist. The majority of philosophers and social scientists take it for granted that all population differences in intelligence are due to environmental factors. The present paper argues that the widespread practice of ignoring or rejecting research on intelligence differences can have unintended negative consequences. Social policies predicated on environmentalist theories of group differences may fail to achieve their aims. Large swaths of academic work in both the humanities and social sciences assume the truth of environmentalism and are vulnerable to being undermined. We have failed to work through the moral implications of group differences to prepare for the possibility that they will be shown to exist.
... For readers interested in more in-depth reviews about race differences, see (more realist view: J. R. Baker, 1974;Fuerst, 2015;Jensen, 1998;Lynn, 2015;Rushton, 2000;Rushton & Jensen, 2005;Sarich & Miele, 2004;Wade, 2014;Winegard, Winegard & Boutwell, 2017;less realist view: Conley & Fletcher, 2017;Evans, 2019;Nisbett, 2009;Nisbett et al., 2012;Sussman, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The nature of race differences, and even the mere “existence” of human races, continues to be a major source of controversy and confusion. This brief review summarizes the empirical evidence about race differences and the conceptual issues related to taxonomy, as well as practical implications for medicine and the social sciences. The review shows that human races are distinctive phenotypically and genotypically, the latter with regard to the frequencies of a very large number (millions) of alleles. Distributions of these traits are clinal rather than discrete, and human races are subject to continuous change across evolutionary time.
Article
Full-text available
According to the mainstream narrative about race, all groups have the same innate dispositions and potential, and all disparities—at least those favoring whites—are due to past or present racism. Some people who reject this narrative gravitate toward an alternative, anti-Jewish narrative, which sees recent history in terms of a Jewish/gentile conflict. The most sophisticated promoter of the anti-Jewish narrative is the evolutionary psychologist Kevin MacDonald. MacDonald argues that Jews have a suite of genetic adaptations—including high intelligence and ethnocentrism—and cultural practices that lead them to undermine gentile society to advance their own evolutionary interests. He says that Jewish-designed intellectual movements have weakened gentile identity and culture while preserving Jewish identity and separatism. Cofnas recently argued that MacDonald’s theory is based on “systematically misrepresented sources and cherry-picked facts.” However, Cofnas gave short shrift to at least three key claims: (a) Jews are highly ethnocentric, (b) liberal Jews hypocritically advocate liberal multiculturalism for gentiles/gentile countries but racial purity and separatism for Jews/Israel, and (c) Jews are responsible for liberalism and mass immigration to the United States. The present paper examines these claims and concludes that MacDonald’s views are not supported.
Article
Objectives: Debate about the cause of IQ score gaps between Black and White populations has persisted within genetics, anthropology, and psychology. Recently, authors claimed polygenic scores provide evidence that a significant portion of differences in cognitive performance between Black and White populations are caused by genetic differences due to natural selection, the "hereditarian hypothesis." This study aims to show conceptual and methodological flaws of past studies supporting the hereditarian hypothesis. Materials and methods: Polygenic scores for educational attainment were constructed for African and European samples of the 1000 Genomes Project. Evidence for selection was evaluated using an excess variance test. Education associated variants were further evaluated for signals of selection by testing for excess genetic differentiation (Fst ). Expected mean difference in IQ for populations was calculated under a neutral evolutionary scenario and contrasted to hereditarian claims. Results: Tests for selection using polygenic scores failed to find evidence of natural selection when the less biased within-family GWAS effect sizes were used. Tests for selection using Fst values did not find evidence of natural selection. Expected mean difference in IQ was substantially smaller than postulated by hereditarians, even under unrealistic assumptions that overestimate genetic contribution. Conclusion: Given these results, hereditarian claims are not supported in the least. Cognitive performance does not appear to have been under diversifying selection in Europeans and Africans. In the absence of diversifying selection, the best case estimate for genetic contributions to group differences in cognitive performance is substantially smaller than hereditarians claim and is consistent with genetic differences contributing little to the Black-White gap.
Article
Full-text available
We determined stunting, wasting, and obesity frequencies in a total 1092 2-to-12 year old Baka Pygmy children from anthropometric and health data gathered in 34 villages in the Djoum-Mintom region in southeastern Cameroon in four health campaigns in 2010 and 2017–9. We compare these to the WHO Child Growth Standards, Amazonian Tsiname growth references for inter-population comparisons and the study population itself. Population-specific growth charts were constructed using GAMLSS modelling. Our results show that Baka children have one of the highest global rates of stunting relative to the WHO child growth standard with 57.8% for 2-to-12 year olds and 64% and 73% for 2-to-4 year old girls and boys, respectively. Frequencies of wasting, overweight, and low BMI were low at 3.4%, 4.6% and 4.3%, respectively, for 2-to-12 year olds. Underweight was at 25.5%, in the upper range for sub-Saharan Africa. Edemas indicated rare severe malnutrition (0.3%). Uncertainties in age estimation had dramatic effects on the reliability of estimated individual z-scores but distributions of z-scores were robust at a population level. In the context of the recent evidence for genetic adaptation of the Pygmies’ small stature to the tropical forest environment we argue that WHO child standards for weight and BMI are applicable. However, standards for height are clearly not adequate for Pygmy people. To achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals, we recommend that Pygmy specific growth standards are developed for the various, genetically differing Pygmy tribes.
Article
Full-text available
The relationship between neighborhood quality and personality was explored using a large nationally representative sample of midlife adults, namely, the data from the Midlife in the United States Longitudinal Study of Health and Well-Being. A multilevel approach was used to track correlations between fluctuations in perceived neighborhood safety and inequality and personality across three points in time. As predicted from life history theory, personality fluctuated along with perceived neighborhood safety and inequality such that the general factor of personality decreased as neighborhood safety decreased and neighborhood inequality increased. In a second set of analyses, monozygotic twin difference scores were used to control for possible genetic confounds. It was found that the twin who reported the greatest neighborhood safety and least neighborhood inequality also had the highest general factor of personality. Future research could be directed at identifying and remediating the specific aspects of the neighborhood that may increase the risk of negative changes in functioning.
Article
Full-text available
Many intellectuals enthusiastically denounce those who argue that genes play some role in cognitive differences between human populations. However, such proposals are perfectly reasonable and are, in fact, consistent with the Darwinian research tradition in which most modern social scientists profess to operate. We argue that population-based cognitive differences are congruent with our best understanding of the world because there are strong reasons to believe that different environments and niches selected for different physical and psychological traits, including general cognitive ability. Like most hereditarians (those who believe it likely that genes contribute to differences in psychological traits among human populations), we do not believe there is decisive evidence about the causes of differences in cognitive ability. But we will argue that a partial genetic hypothesis is most consistent with the Darwinian research tradition.
Chapter
We argue for the superiority of biologically informed models of human behavior and behavioral variation relative to their purely sociocultural/environmental competitors. It will be shown that opposition to models of the former type emanates largely from scientific ignorance, political motivations, and tacit (but critical) assumptions about the roles of “nature” and “nurture” in human behavior. Chapter 2 surveys a very wide set of empirical and theoretical work that attests to the explanatory power of these biologically informed models. A further matter that this chapter addresses is the substantial collective academic effort to block dissemination of biobehavioral theories of human behavior. We argue that this stems mostly from the substantial overrepresentation of those on the political left in academia, a fact that several researchers have noted.
Chapter
Dealing with environmental stressors is a basic part of life for any organism. Positive psychology focuses largely on the topic of resilience and how people can move past difficult situations and interactions. The evolutionary perspective has much to offer in terms of the topic of resilience. This chapter describes resilience and stress reactions from an evolutionary perspective. Further, this chapter uses the concept of natural selection as a model for how failures are to be expected and how success in any domain for any organism owes largely to a long string of failures. This model is used to help provide evolution-based guidance on the topic of moving forward after setbacks and developing a resilient approach to life.
Book
The conventional wisdom in contemporary social science claims that human races are not biologically valid categories. Many argue the very words '?race? and ?racial differences? should be abolished because they support racism. In Race, Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele challenge both these tenets. First, they cite the historical record, the art and literature of other civilizations and cultures, morphological studies, cognitive psychology, and the latest research in medical genetics, forensics, and the human genome to demonstrate that racial differences are not trivial, but very real. They conclude with the paradox that, while, scientific honesty requires forthright recognition of racial differences, public policy should not recognize racial-group membership. The evidence and issues raised in this book will be of critical interest to students of race in behavioral and political science, medicine, and law.
Chapter
The long-term scientific goal toward which evolutionary psychologists are working is the mapping of the universal human nature. Evolutionary psychology provokes so much reflexive opposition because the stakes for many social scientists, behavioral scientists, and humanists are so high. If evolutionary psychology turns out to be well-founded, then the existing superstructure of the social and behavioral sciences, the Standard Social Science Model, have to be dismantled. To be effective researchers, psychologists needs to become at least minimally acquainted with the principles of organic design. One reason why cognitive psychologists arbitrarily limit their scope is the folk psychological distinction made between knowledge acquisition on the one hand and motivation, emotion, and preferences on the other. Evolutionary theory when joined with a computational approach to the mind leads to the conclusion that the human psychological architecture is very likely to include a large array of adaptive specializations.