Evolutionary explanation of AN

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  • Created by: Reece
  • Created on: 15-02-14 14:41

Evolutionary explanation of AN

Evolutionary explanations suggest that we have certain behaviours today because they were adaptive to our ancestors survival.

This means previously adaptive behaviour can be maintained even if it is now dsyfunctional.

Guisinger's AFFH

Suggests that the distinctive features of AN (e.g denial of starvation and hyperactivity) were adaptive mechanisms that helped our ancestors migrate from local famine.

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers - when their was a shortage of food leading to weight loss guisinger suggests that the ability to 'switch off' usual adaptations to starvation (lethargy etc) was essential for efficient migration.

The ability to stop foraging locally, to feel restless and to optimistically deny one is dangerously thin aided successful migration and ultimately survival.

Although this behaviour is no longer adaptive Guisinger suggests that a very low body weight causes some individuals' bodies to respond as if they must migrate from famine. 

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Evolutionary explanation of AN

Research support

Guisinger backs up her theory with evidence from sherry. He found food restriction behaviour occurs across species during migration.

Evidence from Kron also supports her theory. He found that AN patients had a tendency towards hyperactive and had compulsions to move.

Furthermore she used observations of her own patients.

-They wanted to eat but claimed to be stopped by their bodies.

This has treatment implications as the key step would be to get their weight back to normal.

She believed this would switch off their genetically programmed anorexic response.

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Evolutionary explanation of AN

Psychology as a science.

- A criticism of this explanation is that it cannot be falsified.

-Little empirical research has been conducted to test this theory as it is impossible to test scientifically.

-Therefore we rely on a great deal of speculation.

-As we cannot test the past scientifically it means that we have no way to determine the validity of the evolutionary hypothesis.

-This causes problems if psychology wants to be considered a science as a key criterion of science is the ability to falsify theories. 

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Evolutionary explanation of AN

Cannot explain recent increase in AN

Evolutionary explanations cannot explain why anorexia has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

AFFH acknowledges the fact that AN is no longer adaptive however it cannot explain the recent increases.

Psychological explanations are much better at explaining this. E.g the increasing influence of the media.)

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