What are the similarities and differences between evolutionary psychology and cultural ecology?
Evolutionary psychologists and cultural ecologists are both interested in answering the question "Why do we do what we do?" Both cultural ecology and evolutionary psychology are schools of thought in the social sciences that assert that human behaviors are the result of natural selection. Where these two studies differ is in their content and approach to "what we do." Evolutionary psychology is a branch of psychological studies that is interested in how people's thoughts, feelings, and actions may be the result of deeper cognitive processes which conferred an evolutionary advantage. This is a very broad-scope field of study because evolutionary psychologists are interested in working out these evolutionary drives common to all people. Cultural ecology, on the other hand, is a specialization of anthropology. With that, cultural ecologists are much more interested in material culture, language, and social exchanges than thoughts, feelings, or brain chemistry. A cultural ecologist might compare and contrast two "responses" to environmental pressures from different parts of the world, while the evolutionary psychologist would be more interested in what changes occurred in the brain as a result of that environmental pressure. Both fields of study approach the human condition in its many shapes and forms as the result of millions of years of environmental change and responsive evolution.