Political science, as a discipline, has been reluctant to adopt theories and methodologies developed in fields studying human behavior from an evolutionary standpoint. I ask whether evolutionary concepts are reconcilable with standard political-science theories and whether those concepts help solve puzzles to which these theories classically are applied. I find that evolutionary concepts readily and simultaneously accommodate theories of rational choice, symbolism, interpretation, and acculturation. Moreover, phenomena perennially hard to explain in standard political science become clearer when human interactions are understood in light of natural selection and evolutionary psychology. These phenomena include the political and economic effects of emotion, status, personal attractiveness, and variations in information-processing and decision-making under uncertainty; exemplary is the use of “focal points” in multiple-equilibrium games. I conclude with an overview of recent research by, and ongoing debates among, scholars analyzing politics in evolutionarily sophisticated terms.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1