Memory Month Day 6: What’s Evolution Got to Do with It?

Today I spent the vast majority of my time studying for Evolutionary Psychology. This might sound incredibly depressing, but thankfully, I didn’t see it that way. That’s simply because I absolutely love the class and most of the material I am learning from it.


Well, I did say “most”. See, the thing about me is that I like to work with ideas. In fact, I talked about this in my Memory Month Day 4 post. There I mentioned that I like Philosophy because I don’t really have to sit down and try to memorize concepts. I simply remember them by the virtue of having thought about them.

Same goes for the material for Evolutionary Psychology. Most of it makes sense to me after having read it once or twice. Then, I try to think about the implications the material might have and…that’s about it. It’s there, in my mind…more or less.

But then there’s the definitions. Boy, are those a pain! The thing is, I can’t remember them as easily as I would an idea with which I can play around. Instead, I have to find other ways of dealing with them.

That’s where acronyms come in! Sadly, their week is almost over, and I can’t say I’ve used them a lot. With grouping things together it’s even worse, since I haven’t done it at all. But not to worry!! I’m hoping I will be able to use them more during the following weeks.

Back to acronyms! I was having difficulties remembering the four possible explanations of behaviour, and what they meant. For those who haven’t had any encounters with these, they are as follows: proximate, ultimate, ontological, and phylogenetic. The first explanation refers to the mechanism of a behaviour (i.e. how it works). The second is all about the function of that organism (why it came to be). The third describes the changes in an organism across its lifespan (so, it’s development). Lastly, a phylogenetic explanation refers to the changes those organisms experience over generations.

I managed to get the hang of these ideas, but I had problems matching each type of explanation to its corresponding definition. That’s when I realized I can employ acronyms. So what I did, is I took the first letter of each type of explanation, and coupled it with the first letter of a telling word from each definition.

What do I mean by “telling” word? Just a word that triggered my memory well enough to remember the rest of the definition. So for proximate, I used mechanism, for ultimate, function, for ontological, development, and for phylogenetic, generations.

Why did I use “generations” for phylogenetic, and not something like “change”? That’s because I could have easily confused it with ontological, which also refers to some type of change.

So, what I ended up with was “P.M.U.F.O.D.P.G.” Luckily, this combination resembles other acronyms put together, which made it easier for me to remember it.

In addition, the chapters I was studying were filled with other acronyms, all of which made my life easier. For example, Environment of Evolved Adeptness was EEA, Evolved Psychological Mechanisms was EPM, and so on.

Before ending this post, I also wanted to share with you something interesting I found out about memory. One of the theories for why humans developed an autobiographical memory is constructed around the idea of reciprocity. Because humans are highly social beings, they had to learn to work together and cooperate. However, some times, they had to work with “a free-rider”, or someone who was willing to receive benefits from others without incurring any costs. In order to avoid working with someone like this in the future, selective pressures may have lead to us developing an autobiographical memory. This memory helped us remember relevant details from our past experience, in order to avoid getting tricked again.

That’s it for today! If you have anything you’d like to share, make sure to comment bellow!


  • Confused about what’s going on? Click here!
  • For the post that started this challenge, click here.
  • For yesterday’s entry, click here.

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