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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 3 than their weaker same-sex counterparts (see Buss, 1994; Browne, 1998; Blum, 1997). Again, it is their genes that spread through the same-sex population of the species over time. Many then, will be quick to accept evolution by natural (and sexual) selection as the only scientifically valid explanation for the functional development of all living organisms. Humans are, of course, hardly exceptional in this regard, as Wright (1994) so eloquently reminds us: “Every organ inside you is a testament to its art – your heart, your lungs, your stomach. All these are [the result of cumulative] ‘adaptations’ – fine products of inadvertent design, mechanisms that are here because they have in the past contributed to your ancestors’ fitness” (p. 26). Most social scientists also concede that the human brain, as a general-purpose information-processing device, has succumbed to the same evolutionary pressures as all other organs. However, support for the Darwinian dictum begins to wane when it is proposed that, although a product of evolution, the human mind is definitely not a “general-purpose computer, programmed by our parents, our schools, and our culture” (Pierce & White, 1999, Introduction, par. 2). The notion that the mind is a complex network of highly specialized, content-specific and genetically-encoded psychological modules, that have evolved to facilitate human survival and reproduction, has gone largely ignored in most social science circles though, despite mounting evidence (e.g., Damasio, 1999; Pinker, 1997). This is perhaps not surprising, as the admission that biological forces largely influence the stimuli humans attend to, how humans process information, what they learn, what they interact with others about and why, their traditions, artifacts and customs, flies in the face of more conventional beliefs (see endnote 1; Pinker, 2000) about the primacy of socialization and cultural processes in shaping the human condition. The Adapted Mind The systematic attempt to explain human behavior in terms of functionally specialized mental modules is fairly recent 4 (see Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992). Drawing on the earlier work of biologists like Dawkins (1976) and Wilson (1975), evolutionary psychologists have begun to build a convincing case against the conventional, or Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) of human behavior. Tooby and Cosmides (1992) sum up the key assumptions of the SSSM in the following steps. First, “infants everywhere, are born the same and have the same developmental potential, evolved psychology, or biological endowment (p. 25).” Second, despite a starting point characterized by a “psychic unity,” humans grow into adults who vary greatly in their mental and behavioral dispositions. Third, because infants show no evidence of these different dispositions at birth, it must be that they are acquired from ‘external” influences throughout growth and development. Fourth, these dispositions parallel those in the social world; they are manifested in the behaviors of infants’ and adolescents’ primary and secondary groups. These must therefore be the source. Fifth, the directionality of the influences at work is

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
3
than their weaker same-sex counterparts (see Buss, 1994; Browne, 1998; Blum, 1997). Again, it is their
genes that spread through the same-sex population of the species over time.
Many then, will be quick to accept evolution by natural (and sexual) selection as the only
scientifically valid explanation for the functional development of all living organisms. Humans are, of
course, hardly exceptional in this regard, as Wright (1994) so eloquently reminds us: “Every organ inside
you is a testament to its art – your heart, your lungs, your stomach. All these are [the result of cumulative]
‘adaptations’ – fine products of inadvertent design, mechanisms that are here because they have in the
past contributed to your ancestors’ fitness” (p. 26). Most social scientists also concede that the human
brain, as a general-purpose information-processing device, has succumbed to the same evolutionary
pressures as all other organs.
However, support for the Darwinian dictum begins to wane when it is proposed that, although a
product of evolution, the human mind is definitely not a “general-purpose computer, programmed by our
parents, our schools, and our culture” (Pierce & White, 1999, Introduction, par. 2). The notion that the
mind is a complex network of highly specialized, content-specific and genetically-encoded psychological
modules, that have evolved to facilitate human survival and reproduction, has gone largely ignored in
most social science circles though, despite mounting evidence (e.g., Damasio, 1999; Pinker, 1997). This
is perhaps not surprising, as the admission that biological forces largely influence the stimuli humans
attend to, how humans process information, what they learn, what they interact with others about and
why, their traditions, artifacts and customs, flies in the face of more conventional beliefs (see endnote 1;
Pinker, 2000) about the primacy of socialization and cultural processes in shaping the human condition.
The Adapted Mind
The systematic attempt to explain human behavior in terms of functionally specialized mental
modules is fairly recent
4
(see Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992). Drawing on the earlier work of
biologists like Dawkins (1976) and Wilson (1975), evolutionary psychologists have begun to build a
convincing case against the conventional, or Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) of human behavior.
Tooby and Cosmides (1992) sum up the key assumptions of the SSSM in the following steps. First,
“infants everywhere, are born the same and have the same developmental potential, evolved psychology,
or biological endowment (p. 25).” Second, despite a starting point characterized by a “psychic unity,”
humans grow into adults who vary greatly in their mental and behavioral dispositions. Third, because
infants show no evidence of these different dispositions at birth, it must be that they are acquired from
‘external” influences throughout growth and development. Fourth, these dispositions parallel those in the
social world; they are manifested in the behaviors of infants’ and adolescents’ primary and secondary
groups. These must therefore be the source. Fifth, the directionality of the influences at work is


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