For many years, personality psychology and behavior studies have always viewed individuals as risk indisposed or risk seekers. However, recent studies in the field of evolution psychology are changing these convectional assessments of individuals risk taking. There is evidence that risk taking in individuals is domain specific. This understanding of human behaviors has brought about a better understanding of the inter individual and intra individual variations in the risk taking tendencies.
The basic arguments of evolution psychology are that the human brain has the ability to adapt in order to solve the recurrent problems and cannot be as static as a computer. The domain in the adaptation of the mind in this case is the problems, challenges or pressures faced by the individual. The psychological adaptations of human being to the recurrent problems have been compared to the physiological evolution when an adaptation occurs to solve challenges in a specific domain. Consequently, psychological evolution is domain specific.
Recent studies have therefore indicated that risks and challenges that individuals are exposed to results into development of mental algorithms that provide a solution to the risks related to the domain (Kruger, 2007). Human beings have faced various problems and challenges in the history or evolution. These challenges are reflected by the risk taking domain. There are several domains that have been studies in evolution psychology. One of the most important domains is group competition.
The human race was able to obtain dominance in the universe ecosystem at some during the history of evolution. For many ages, the human race has been hostile to itself with humans rising against other humans. It is believed that the most significant selection pressure that ever existed was competition between groups. These competitions are evident in the modern world for example in business, sports, politics, gang violence, ethic and racial hostility and uprisings between communities and nations.
Moreover, the competition is promoted by cooperation between groups (Kruger, 2007). Competition within a certain group is also an important domain in the study of evolution psychology. Competition within the group is aimed at promoting an individuals position in the group rather than eliminating a possible threat. However, psychical threat and the resultant competition are also evident within a group. It is also important to note that competition within a group is more complex and therefore very significant in psychological evolution.
This is because it involves both physical and social infighting and competition. In many societies, the fight for higher status in the society is more relevant to the males that females although the competition is evident in both sexes. The relevance of social status to the males has been as a result of cultural values and mating patterns that are evident in all societies. For example, mating success in males is a function of the individual’s social status since females seek males of high social status and they can use their resources to pressurize other males.
For this reason, throughout history, social status has always dictated access to mates, mating success and reproductive success in males. Moreover, the economic and social competitiveness of male in the society has been compared to a survival and reproductive advantage presented by peacock’s tail in the Darwin theory of evolution (Kruger, 2007). Sociosexuality or the perception of a sexual relationship requirement varies from one individual to another.
Some individuals have unrestricted sociosexuality and have a perception that mating efforts requires more resources sacrificing parental efforts. Consequently, the success of matting in males increases with increase in number of mates provided that reproduction is not limited. On the other hand, female mating success does not increase with the increase in the number of mating partners. However, extra pair mating relationships has been associated with many risks such as desertion of the mate and transmission of infections. They could also lead to violence and hatred between jealous partners.
Other that the social and resource allocation challenges that face an individual, there are environmental risks and challenges that are significant in psychological evolution. Studies carried out over the years have indicated that forage strategies that have been evident throughout the history have been an important aspect of human survival (Kruger, 2007). In a research carried out by Kruger et al (2007), student from two universities, university of South Dakota and University of Michigan, reacted to questioners posted online.
They were requested to rate thirty risky behaviors and the tendencies in which they would involve themselves in these risky behaviors. In another survey conducted at the University of Michigan, students from diverse ethnic backgrounds completed the same online questioners for partial fulfillment of an academic course in the university. From the two surveys, the results were consistent with the earlier theoretical predictions. The risk taking domains were a clear reflection of the recurrent social and environmental challenges that faced the individuals.
Kruger et al (2007) were able to generate behavior trends that matched the specific domains in the modern society. They were also successful in distinguishing between significant domains in the society such as within group and between group competitions. However, it was confirmed that between groups competition was not limited in scope as for the case of ancient competition, while competition within the group was observed to be even more complex.
Moreover, the fertility risks which are induced by behaviors were found to be lower than expected or observed in other similar studies. The linkage between fertility risks and other specific domains was observed to be generally lower except in its linkage with mating behaviors and allocation of social and economic resources. The study concluded that that people who have more risk taking behaviors in specific domain do not show similar trends in other domains.
The high tendencies of risk taking in males compared to females with exceptional cases in environmental risks were also confirmed to be consistent with the literature. It was also concluded that men benefit more from risky behaviors when compared to females. Moreover, there are some riskier behaviors that are more likely to be observed in females than in males such as risking ones life to save a child because of the limited opportunities of getting another offspring in the future and the psychological investment placed on the child by the mother.
This modern approach of development psychology and the current risk scale is an important step in the validation of evolution based psychological assessments of behaviors. The study of the relationship between risk taking behaviors in different individuals in the society and the survival and reproduction challenges faced by individuals is important. Reference Kruger, D. J. , Wang, X. T. & Wilker, A. (2007). “Towards the development of an evolutionarily valid domain-specific risk-taking scale. ” Evolutionary Psychology, 5(3): pp 555-568