Evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and dynamical systems: Building an integrative paradigm

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30 Scopus citations


Cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and dynamical systems theory have all been proposed as frameworks for linking the diverse subdisciplines of psychology with one another, and with other scientific disciplines. Traditional cognitive science focused on content-free general processing and deemphasized motivation. An evolutionary perspective emphasizes the centrality of motivational systems and the specificity of mechanisms designed to solve particular recurrent problems. The evolutionary perspective provides a set of broad general principles linking diverse behaviors in humans as well as other species. The dynamic approach seeks even broader principles, searching for emergent patterns in all complex systems, whether animate or inanimate. Natural selection is itself one such broad principle, as is the broader principle of self-organization, which helps explain dynamic equilibria found in groups of humans and in diverse species linked together within ecosystems. Proponents of the major contending interdisciplines will need to build more bridges if the dream of a unifying paradigm is to be realized. This review samples some of the reasons why evolutionary psychologists, dynamical systems theorists, and traditional cognitive scientists need one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001


  • Cognitive science
  • Dynamical systems
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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