Commentary

For the good of evolutionary psychology, let's reunite proximate and ultimate explanations

Citation

Zietsch BP, Sidari MJ, Murphy SC, Sherlock JM & Lee AJ (2020) For the good of evolutionary psychology, let's reunite proximate and ultimate explanations. Commentary on: A.J. Lee, M.J. Sidari, S.C. Murphy, J.M. Sherlock, B.P. Zietsch Sex differences in misperceptions of sexual interest can be explained by sociosexual orientation and men projecting their own interest onto women Psychological Science, 31 (2020), pp. 184-192. Evolution and Human Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.06.009

Abstract
First paragraph: In Lee, Sidari, Murphy, Sherlock, and Zietsch (2020), we showed using a large speed dating study that sex differences in misperceptions of sexual interest can be explained by sociosexual orientation and, primarily, the tendency to project one's own interest onto others. We suggested that our results called into question the influential theory that the sex difference in misperception of sexual interest evolved via sex-specific specialized adaptations because it is advantageous for men, relative to women, to overperceive sexual interest (error management theory; EMT). Roth, Samara, and Kret (2020) criticise our interpretation, claiming that 1) our analyses are confounded and 2) we have confused proximate and ultimate levels of explanation. We reject both claims, but the second is an interesting and important issue that has arisen repeatedly in discussions of our paper, as well as in other contexts in the broader literature on evolution and human behavior. We spend some time discussing why proximate explanations are crucial to a healthy evolutionary psychology, and why we believe evolutionary psychologists should pay more attention to them.

Keywords
Error management theory; Perception of sexual interest; Proximate-ultimate distinction; Evolutionary psychology; Behavior genetics

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
Evolution and Human Behavior

StatusIn Press
FundersAustralian Research Council
Publication date online30/06/2020
Date accepted by journal23/06/2020
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/31397
PublisherElsevier BV
ISSN1090-5138
Item discussedA.J. Lee, M.J. Sidari, S.C. Murphy, J.M. Sherlock, B.P. Zietsch Sex differences in misperceptions of sexual interest can be explained by sociosexual orientation and men projecting their own interest onto women Psychological Science, 31 (2020), pp. 184-192