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Hot Topics and Popular Papers in Evolutionary Psychology: Analyses of Title Words and Citation Counts in Evolution and Human Behavior, 1979 – 2008

Published: 1 July 2009

Abstract: What do evolutionary psychologists study, which are their most highly cited articles, and which variables predict high citation counts? These are important questions for any emerging science. To help answer these questions, we present new empirical research on publication trends in evolutionary psychology's flagship journal, Evolution and Human Behavior (and its predecessor, Ethology and Sociobiology), from its inception in 1979 to 2008. First, analyses of 8,631 title words published in these journals between 1979 and 2008 (808 articles) show an increasing interest in researching sex, sex differences, faces, and attractiveness. For example, during the Ethology and Sociobiology era (1979–1996), the most frequent title words were “evolutionary,” “human,” “behavior,” “reproductive,” “evolution,” “selection,” and “altruism,” whereas during the Evolution and Human Behavior era (1997–2008), they were “sex,” “attractiveness,” “differences,” “sexual,” “human,” “male,” and “facial.” Second, we reveal the 20 most-cited articles in these journals, which show the importance of research teams. Third, citation analyses for these journals between 1979 and 2002 (562 articles) suggest articles that cite more references are in turn cited more themselves ( r = .44, R2 = .19). Lastly, we summarize recent research that suggests evolutionary psychology is not only surviving, but also thriving, as a new interdisciplinary science.
Keywords: Behavior / evolutionary / cited articles / sex / sup / era / Ethology / Sociobiology

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