Eating Behaviours: Evolutionary Explanation

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What do evolutionary psychologists think all behaviour is and what has it become?
All behaviour according to them is adaptive (benefits us & our survival chances) but after 50,000 years it becomes maladaptive.
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What do our ancestors living conditions have to do with our current eating behaviour?
They lived in harsh environments where food was not always available- evolved to be omniovores (varied diet) because it would've been a challenge to avoid malnutrition.
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What does this mean our most valued foods are?
Sweet, salty and fatty foods: where food supply was scarce or erratic, these foods have vital requirements and were relatively rare for our ancestors.
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Why do we over-eat and under exercise?
At that time it was advantageous to overeat in times of plenty as it improves chance of survival, and we're programmed to use little energy to conserve our calories.
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What type of eater are we naturally?
Impulsive eaters- behaviours which, in an obesogenic environment are no longer adaptive.
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Why do we have a preference for high fat foods?
Fat has 2x as many calories as the same amount of protein or carb- not easily avail. to ancestors so it was sensible to binge on it. (now it's readily available and people find it hard to keep fat consumption low).
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Why do we have a preference for sweet foods?
High intake of sugar= quick fix of calories. Desor et al showed that babies have preference for sweet over bitter (shows inate knowledge of safety of food)- now sweet pref. doesn't help us eat berries but just high-cal foods e.g. chocolate.
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Why do we have a preference for salty foods?
Salt is essential for our body to function and we need to keep the level constant. Children show preference for it after 4 months of age. Now we have easy access to salt and too much can cause serious probs (e.g. high blood pressure).
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What 4 things can be used as evidence for evolution controlling eating behaviour?
Food neophobia, taste aversion, embryo protection hypothesis, self control&metabolic rate.
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What is food neophobia and what does it mean to evolutionary theory?
Avoidance of certain unfamiliar foods- helps us to avoid dangerous foods- we have a dull diet, but it's safe: as we become more familiar we develop more preference and less fear.
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What is taste aversion and what does it mean to evolutionary theory?
If we eat food that makes us sick we shouldn't eat it again- v. specific and intense (Garcia et al made wolves sick w/ poisoned lamb, when they let them near live sheep they left once they'd sniffed them- they associated sheep w/ poison).
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What is the embryo protection hypothesis and what does it mean to evolutionary theory?
During pregnancy women change food pref's- 75% get morning sickness, most avoided foods inc meat & eggs. These are common sources of toxins that could be harmful to foetus so vomiting reduces risk of toxins entering bloodstream(Evolutionary Hangover)
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How does self control&metabolic prove the evolutionary theory?
According to the theory animals should be more impulsive when eatin and less willing to delay for longer- animals that have higher metabolic rates show less self-control for food.
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What is the study for self control&metabolic rate?
Tobin and Logue found that pigeons (v. high mr) are more impulsive than rats and humans (low mr) and this was found across all animals except macaque monkey who has high mr but is self-controlled- BUT lives in environment w/ abundant amounts of food.
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What are the the issues of evolutionary theory?
Use of Animals.
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What are the debates of evolutionary theory?
Reductionist (over-simplification of complex behaviour), Free Will v. Determinism (no free will to choose our behaviour), Nature v. Nurture (explains recent upsurge in obesity), Is Psych a Science (difficult to falsify- circumstantial evidence).
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What do our ancestors living conditions have to do with our current eating behaviour?

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They lived in harsh environments where food was not always available- evolved to be omniovores (varied diet) because it would've been a challenge to avoid malnutrition.

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What does this mean our most valued foods are?

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Why do we over-eat and under exercise?

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What type of eater are we naturally?

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