Human General Intelligence as a Domain General Psychological Adaptation
Kevin B MacDonald, 2013
The concept of general intelligence as measured by standard IQ tests has always been a difficult fit for evolutionary psychology. This paper argues that intelligence is a set of domain general abilities which was not designed to solve any specific problem from the human evolutionary past. Rather, general intelligence equips humans to make mental models of the environment and to develop action plans based on these models. It is thus ideally suited to solve evolutionarily ancient problems of survival and reproduction, but also to solve novel problems and to create ideologies (e.g., Marxism) that guide and rationalize behavior. In the human Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), these action plans evolved as means of achieving affective states, such as assuaging hunger, achieving social status, or other evolved goal states. Moreover, it is argued that the most important mechanism underlying general intelligence, the executive processes of working memory, is not tied to regularities in the EEA.