A Commentary Reading : How Hardwired is Human Behavior? The article, written by Nigel Nicholson, is a very interesting read. The author talked about evolutionary psychology and how it affects the thinking and feeling as well the social living of human beings. It says that evolutionary psychology “offers a theory of how the human mind came to be constructed and that mind is hardwired in ways that govern most human behavior to this day”. Human behavior is the way it is today according to evolutionary psychology because the same survival mentality of man’s Stone Age ancestors have been genetically passed on throughout the generations.
And since there has been no catastrophic incidents in the world that would stimulate further human evolution, evolutionary psychologists contend that human brains are still ingrained with that Stone Age “hunter-gatherers” behavior even in this present day. The author further writes that studying this psychology is useful to managers in today’s world as it provides them with an understanding of why people act the way they do in organizational settings. To some extent I can agree with the hypotheses offered by evolutionary psychology hich can become useful for managers and how they can relate with the people in their organizations.
Most people generally react to situations first with “emotion before reason”. Knowing this enables managers to be sensitive specially when delivering bad news to employees. I can also agree to “classification before calculus”. It is true that we have a tendency to stereotype people based on their physical appearance, mannerisms and the way they talk. You can say that humans like to “Judge a book by its cover”. This classifying mind also applies to our day-to-day ctivities and we mostly base our decisions by categorizing things.
This mentality could assist managers when dealing with team issues within the organization as well as in formulating tasks for employees that stimulate their productivity. Then, of course, there is “gossip”. Nobody will disagree that gossip is very much alive today specially in the work place. It would be worthwhile for managers to “plug into the grapevine” and use it for some healthy advantage. In the area of social living and how people organize, evolutionary psychology offers the theory of “hierarchy” which I elieve holds true today.
For managers, it is important to recognize achievers as this generally leads to more satisfied employees. On leadership, the evolutionary school of thought believes that “the passion to lead is the baseline requirement for competent leadership”. I can definitely agree to this line of thinking. One cannot be an effective leader if one does not have the right motivation to be one. Personality traits and skills are a distant second. For managers to be competent leaders, it is then important to have that desire and passion to lead, otherwise the organization
A theory in evolutionary psychology which do not resonate with me is the one on “loss aversion except when threatened”. This theory states that humans are not risk takers and that we are “hardwired to avoid loss when comfortable but to scramble madly when threatened”. This seems to suggest a lack of creativity in humans. I do believe it is inherent in us to be creative and adventurous because when we were born we are instinctively fearless. It is only as we grew up when our environment and the people around us started introducing fear that we became persons who are full of fear.
This drives us to stay in our comfort zones. But once in a while, we discover that our fears are baseless so we come out of our shell and start to become creative and adventurous beings. This can happen without any threatening experience whatsoever. While it may be true that there are people who only start to take risks when threatened, I believe that each one of us has the inborn capacity for ingenuity. The “loss aversion and mad scramble” are only products of the fears introduced to us by outside forces, rather it is creativity and adventurism that is naturally “hardwired” into all humans.
For managers, therefore, it is beneficial to harness and encourage the natural creativity in people. It is then up to the manager to also be creative in doing so. Admittedly, the theories introduced by evolutionary psychology can really help managers as these can equip them in dealing with people in specific situations within the organization. Then again, people are all unique. There is not one way in dealing with workers in an organization. A great leader and manager recognizes and respects the differences in each person and knows how to relate and bring out the best in each one.