October 23, 2018

W. David Stahlman Publishes Paper in American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association recently published a paper online by UMW Associate Professor of Psychology W. David Stahlman. Called “The Coelacanth Still Lives: Bringing Selection Back to the Fore in a Science of Behavior,” the article is set to appear in the print edition of the APA in October.

According to an abstract of the article written with Kenneth J. Leising, a psychology professor at Texas Christian University:

“There is little scientific debate regarding the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, which effectively describes how relevant ancestral histories produce both an organism’s genetic characteristics and innate behavioral repertoires. The combination of variation and selection in the production of novel forms can be extended beyond Darwinian theory to encompass facts of ontogeny. The present article sheds light on an underappreciated and critical insight, namely, that the consequences of behavior have a selective effect analogous to that observed in biological evolution. Three levels of environmental selection (phylogenic, ontogenic, and cultural) constitute a full account of the causes for action. This perspective identifies the relevant functional contingencies of which behavior is a product, it accurately and parsimoniously predicts a wide variety of disparate behavioral findings, it resolves old debates on nativism and empiricism, it unites psychological science under a central organizing principle, and it specifies psychology’s position in relation to biology. Wholesale adoption of this perspective should be considered a positive advance for the field of psychology.”

The full article is available online at http://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2018-11354-001.html.