The Evolutionary Mismatch Hypothesis: Implications for Psychological Science

Norman P. Li*, Mark van Vugt, Stephen M. Colarelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Human psychological mechanisms are adaptations that evolved to process environmental inputs, turning them into behavioral outputs that, on average, increase survival or reproductive prospects. Modern contexts, however, differ vastly from the environments that existed as human psychological mechanisms evolved. Many inputs now differ in quantity and intensity or no longer have the same fitness associations, thereby leading many mechanisms to produce maladaptive output. We present the precepts of this evolutionary mismatch process, highlight areas of mismatch, and consider implications for psychological science and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • adaptive lag
  • evolutionary psychology
  • mismatch
  • supernormal stimuli

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