This course is designed to give students a working knowledge of the key facts and theories about human psychological evolution. The comparative approach will be employed to identify what psychological traits are shared with other animals and what sets human minds apart. In this context we cover a range of topics from language, mental time travel and theory of mind, to culture and morality. In attempting to identify what in fact constitutes the “gap” between human and animal mind, and how it evolved, we will learn about findings in comparative psychology, developmental psychology and physical anthropology. This will provide the necessary background to interpret and evaluate current hypotheses in “evolutionary psychology”. We will introduce selected examples to illustrate these increasingly popular approaches to psychological questions.
Field WorkCountry: Costa Rica
Day: 2 - Sunday, 6 December
The field lab will be a visit to the Manuel Antonio National Park Costa Rica which is about two hours’ drive from Puntarenas. In the park students will go on a guided forest walk and visit a monkey sanctuary. The visit to the National Park will give students the opportunity to observe Capuchin monkeys, Howler Monkeys and Squirrel monkeys. They will be asked to study their behavior with a special focus on evidence related to their chosen assignment topics and the discussions of distinctly human behaviors throughout the course. The visit to the sanctuary will enable a closer look at new-world monkeys and provide a platform for discussing the conservation threats facing our closest surviving animal relatives. Academic objectives: 1. To observe 3 nonhuman primate species 2. To examine primate natural behavior in light of mental abilities discussed in the course 3. To learn about conservation threats facing our closest surviving animal relatives