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Evolutionary Theory's Increasing Role in Personality and Social Psychology

Published: 1 January 2007

Abstract: Has the emergence of evolutionary psychology had an increasing impact on personality and social psychological research published over the past two decades? If so, is its growing influence substantially different from that of other emerging psychological areas? These questions were addressed in the present study by conducting a content analysis of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP) from 1985 to 2004 using the PsycINFO online abstract database. Specifically, keyword searches for “evol*” or “Darwin*” revealed that the percentage of JPSP articles drawing on evolutionary theory was modest, but increased significantly between 1985 and 2004. To compare the growing impact of evolutionary psychology with other psychological areas, similar keywords searches were performed in JPSP for emotion and motivation, judgment and decision making, neuroscience and psychophysiology, stereotyping and prejudice, and terror management theory. The increase in evolutionary theory in JPSP over time was practically equal to the mean increase over time for the other five areas. Thus, evolutionary psychology has played an increasing role in shaping personality and social psychological research over the past 20 years, and is growing at a rate consistent with other emerging psychological areas.
Keywords: evolutionary psychology / Personality / social psychology / Publication Trends / History and Systems of Psychology / Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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