EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Survey of evolutionary scholars and students: Perceptions of progress and challenges
Daniel J. Kruger, Maryanne L. Fisher, Steven Platek, & Catherine Salmon
We created the first large survey of those involved in the evolutionary approach to human research regarding their perceptions on the state of this approach. Our objective was to assess scholars’ perceptions of academic standing, career issues, challenges facing evolutionary scholars, and to gauge the academic strength and productivity of human evolutionary researchers. We did not attempt to gauge the theoretical progress of the approach as a science or its relative representation objectively, though we did collect participants’ perceptions of scientific progress and challenges. We compiled a recruitment database of e-mails based on presenters at three iterations of three prominent evolutionary conferences (2008-2010) and sent personalized invitations to participate in an on-line survey. Participants (N = 297) gave detailed information on their perceptions, challenges, hopes, and expectations for the future. Overall, participants were optimistic in their views that evolutionary research would become more accepted and prominent, although they tended to believe that growth and advancement of the field would be a gradual process. Participants’ strongest concerns and recommendations for those taking an evolutionary approach to human research focused on maintaining theoretical rigor, increasing methodological sophistication, utilizing interdisciplinary approaches with convergent data from multiple methodologies, and testing competing evolutionary hypotheses against each other. Several specifically cited concerns regarding misunderstandings resulting from simplistic accounts of sex differences in mating, whether by researchers or media covering this research. Participants were very positive about the theoretical strengths of the evolutionary approach, yet they were more wary regarding the general lack of knowledge about evolution and resistance based on ideological grounds.
How to cite this article:
Kruger, D. J., Fisher, M. L., Platek, S., & Salmon, C. (2012). Survey of evolutionary scholars and students: Perceptions of progress and challenges. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 4(2), 23-51.