Richard McElreath is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC, Davis.
Abstract: It’s common for evolutionary psychologists to invoke evolutionary mismatch as an explanation for maladaptive human behavior. For example, people eat themselves to death, because our food preferences evolved in a past environment with scarcity. Mismatch has also been invoked to explain the tendency for humans to cooperate with strangers and non-kin, and mismatch is usually presented as an alternative to cultural evolutionary processes, such as cultural group selection. I argue that every example of evolutionary mismatch is a study in cultural evolution and likewise that every example of cultural evolution is a study in evolutionary mismatch. The two processes cannot usually be separated in analysis, as successful cultural institutions and beliefs are adapted to evolved human psychology. Likewise, evolved psychology alone is an insufficient explanation, because cultural forms evolve to manipulate it.