ReviewEvolutionary sport and exercise psychology: Integrating proximate and ultimate explanations
Review articleOpen access
2013/05/01 Review article DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2012.12.006
Journal: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
AbstractObjectivesThis review aims to demonstrate the utility of integrating the insights of evolutionary psychology with sport and exercise psychology. Specifically, we offer a primer on evolutionary psychology that we then discuss in the context of several research avenues in sport and exercise. Next, we discuss how evolutionary psychology can inform our understanding of sporting culture.DesignReview paper.MethodsTheory and research are selectively reviewed in efforts to demonstrate the utility and limits of evolutionary psychology as an approach to sport and exercise psychology.Results and conclusionsEvolutionary psychology offers researchers in sport and exercise psychology an improved capacity to produce proximate explanations (i.e., how psychological mechanisms interact with the environment to produce behavior) by generating productive and novel hypotheses from ultimate explanations (i.e., why a psychological mechanism evolved a particular design; Tooby & Cosmides, 1992, 2005). The worth of integrating proximate and ultimate explanations is demonstrated by the ensuing novel insights of popular avenues of sport and exercise psychology including (a) the interrelation between motivation and reasoning and their relative influence on exercise behavior, (b) sex differences in sport participation, (c) performance in sport, and (d) group dynamics in sport. Unlike specific fields of psychology, evolutionary psychology is a metatheoretical approach that can foster mutually productive linkages between currently disparate areas within sport and exercise psychology, and with neighboring disciplines.
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