Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness

A hunter-gatherer lifestyle, living in small groups or tribes, exposure to natural risks such as predators, competition for resources, and a relatively low level of technological progress is assumed to have characterized the environment.

Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness

The Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) refers to the environment in which human ancestors evolved and adapted over millions of years in evolutionary biology and psychology. The EEA is thought to have produced selected pressures that impacted human evolution, and our genetic composition is adapted to this environment.

It is also thought that the EEA was characterized by periods of feast and famine and that our forefathers evolved adaptations to live and prosper in these conditions. The environment of evolutionary adaptedness caused adaptation in human behaviour. There are several ways in which the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) may have influenced human behavior and adaptations.

Social Behaviour

Humans are social beings who have evolved to live in groups or tribes. Humans developed adaptations to assist them in negotiating complicated social dynamics during the EEA, characterized by frequent interactions with other group members. Humans, for example, evolved the ability to read and respond to nonverbal signs such as facial expressions and body language, allowing them to communicate successfully with other group members.

They also learned how to build and sustain coalitions, which aided them in competing for resources and protection. Finally, humans evolved the ability to detect and punish cheaters, which aided in preserving social order and the prevention of individuals taking advantage of others.

Food Preferences

The EEA was characterized by periods of feast and famine, during which humans evolved adaptations to live and thrive. Humans, for example, evolved a taste for high-calorie meals like fats and sugars, which allowed them to store energy during times of abundance to support them during times of scarcity. This propensity for high-calorie foods is thought to be why we find junk food so enticing today, although it is frequently unhealthy.

Response to Stress

The EEA was also distinguished by frequent and possibly lethal stressors such as predators and natural catastrophes. Humans evolved adaptations, such as the fight-or-flight response, to help them cope with these stressors. This response is characterized by physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and respiration, that prepare the body to fight or run in the face of danger. While this response was beneficial in the EEA, it can be counterproductive in modern society, where many stressors are chronic rather than acute.

Mating Behaviour

Humans developed adaptations to help them traverse the EEA's complex mating scene. As appearance indicated reproductive capability, men acquired a predilection for physically attractive women. Physical appearance was a sign that a woman was healthy and had good genes, increasing the chances of successful kids. Women, on the other hand, evolved a preference for men who could give resources and safety, as these characteristics were critical for child survival and well-being. This is referred to as the "resource-provisioning hypothesis."

Several other adjustments associated with mating behavior have evolved in the EEA. Men, for example, are more inclined than women to participate in risky behavior, such as fighting for status or engaging in physical fights, because these behaviors show dominance and attract potential mates. Conversely, women are more inclined to be picky about their mating partners because they have a higher stake in their offspring and want to ensure their mates provide good genes and resources.

Navigation as a Skill for Survival

Navigation is an essential skill for survival in a variety of situations, including outdoor survival, search and rescue operations, combat operations, and even daily living. Individuals with navigation abilities can identify their position, make their way to a goal, and avoid dangers along the way. Navigation abilities, for example, can be used in a wilderness survival scenario to locate food, water, and refuge, as well as to travel through new territory and avoid dangers such as dangerous creatures or precipitous slopes.

Navigation skills are important in search and rescue missions because they require a variety of cognitive processes and abilities, such as spatial thinking, memorization, concentration, and decision-making. Individuals with good navigation skills can read maps, use compasses and GPS devices, identify locations, compute distances and routes, and so on.

Several Adaptations in Physical Traits of Humans

  • Bipedalism − Bipedalism is the ability to walk upright on two feet, a trait unique to humans. This adaptation allowed for greater mobility and the ability to carry objects and tools, which enabled early humans to navigate their environment and access resources better.

  • Increased Brain Size − The size of the human brain increased dramatically during the EEA, allowing for more complex cognitive abilities such as language, problem-solving, and abstract thought. This allowed humans to understand their environment better, develop and use tools, and communicate with each other.

  • Language − Language is a complex system of communication using spoken words, gestures, and symbols. During the EEA, humans developed the ability to communicate with each other through language, which enabled them to cooperate better and coordinate their activities.

  • Sense of Self-Awareness − Humans developed a sense of self-awareness during the EEA, which allowed them to recognize themselves as individuals and make decisions based on their interests. This enabled humans to understand their environment better and adapt to their surroundings.

  • Empathy − Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person's feelings. This adaptation enabled humans to cooperate better and coordinate their activities, as they could better understand the perspective of others.

  • Ability to Cooperate − During the EEA, humans developed the ability to cooperate, which allowed them to work together to achieve shared goals. This enabled humans to access resources better, protect themselves from predators, and build more extensive and complex societies.

  • Resilience − Resilience is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and persevere in adversity. This adaptation enabled humans to survive better in their environment and to develop strategies for dealing with difficult situations.

  • Risk-Taking − Risk-taking is the willingness to take chances to achieve a desired goal. This adaptation allowed humans to explore new environments and take advantage of opportunities.


The Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) shaped human behavior in several ways, including social behavior, food preferences, response to stress, and mating behavior. While these adaptations are still present today, they may also be influenced by cultural and social factors. Understanding the evolutionary context in which these adaptations emerged can provide insight into some basic tendencies and preferences underlying human mechanisms.

Updated on: 04-May-2023


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