Bridging developmental systems theory and evolutionary psychology using dynamic optimization

Dev Sci. 2013 Jul;16(4):584-98. doi: 10.1111/desc.12053. Epub 2013 Mar 18.


Interactions between evolutionary psychologists and developmental systems theorists have been largely antagonistic. This is unfortunate because potential synergies between the two approaches remain unexplored. This article presents a method that may help to bridge the divide, and that has proven fruitful in biology: dynamic optimization. Dynamic optimization integrates developmental systems theorists' focus on dynamics and contingency with the 'design stance' of evolutionary psychology. It provides a theoretical framework as well as a set of tools for exploring the properties of developmental systems that natural selection might favor, given particular evolutionary ecologies. We also discuss limitations of the approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Psychology / methods
  • Selection, Genetic / physiology*
  • Systems Theory*