Testing the Controversy : An Empirical Examination of Adaptationists' Attitudes Toward Politics and Science

Hum Nat. 2007 Dec;18(4):313-28. doi: 10.1007/s12110-007-9024-y.


Critics of evolutionary psychology and sociobiology have advanced an adaptationists-as-right-wing-conspirators (ARC) hypothesis, suggesting that adaptationists use their research to support a right-wing political agenda. We report the first quantitative test of the ARC hypothesis based on an online survey of political and scientific attitudes among 168 US psychology Ph.D. students, 31 of whom self-identified as adaptationists and 137 others who identified with another non-adaptationist meta-theory. Results indicate that adaptationists are much less politically conservative than typical US citizens and no more politically conservative than non-adaptationist graduate students. Also, contrary to the "adaptationists-as-pseudo-scientists" stereotype, adaptationists endorse more rigorous, progressive, quantitative scientific methods in the study of human behavior than non-adaptationists.

Keywords: Adaptationism; Political attitudes; Sociology of science.