The evolution and mismatch hypothesis. When there is a match between early environment and adulthood (blue arrows), lower disease risk is expected. When there is a mismatch between the two periods (red arrows), an increased risk of disease is expected. attributed to him: Perspectives on psychology (2022). doi: 10.1177/17456916221078318
Why spread mental disorders such as depression? Psychologists Maren Hoagland and Anime Blogger analyzed three major theories from evolutionary psychology to find a better explanation for mental disorders. All three of these theories link mental problems with mismatches in our development. Researchers believe that combining the three theories will help us understand mental disorders and improve treatments. Their findings are now published in the journal Perspectives on psychology.
Hoogland and Ploeger specialize in the evolutionary causes of mental health problems: what role does a person play childhood experiencesHow important is their genetic makeup, and what is the effect of adaptations from our evolutionary past? In their new study, they combined three major theories from evolutionary developmental psychology to find a comprehensive explanation for them Mental illness.
“The first theory includes the concept of evolutionary mismatch,” Hoagland and Pleuger explain. “Evolutionary mismatch means that the difference between our current environment and the environment in which we evolved is so great that the body and mind can no longer keep up with all the innovations.”
For example, they cite the modern sitting life we lead, the processed foods we eat, and the ever-present smartphone. “These are conditions that humans do not adapt well to, and therefore we call them evolutionary mismatches. They can lead not only to conditions such as diabetes and Cardiovascular diseasebut also for mental disorders such as depression.”
Individual developmental mismatch
The second theory deals with developmental mismatch. “How similar is your current environment to the environment you grew up in as a child? If these worlds are so far apart, your adult brain is overburdened with so many new impressions that it can hardly adapt to your current environment,” explain the researchers.
“Suppose, for example, that you grew up in a very quiet environment and now live in a noisy city, or that you come from a low educational background and go to university. Individual developmental mismatches like these can lead to the emergence of diseases and mental health problems.”
The third and final theory revolves around individual differences. “Some people remain sedentary despite traumatic events or unhealthy eating habits, while others can develop an illness under the same circumstances or as a result of a minor relapse. What could explain such large individual differences?”
Differential susceptibility theory posits that some people are more sensitive to environmental conditions than others for genetic reasons. This may be related to how they are raised, but also to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.
However, previous research is based on this theory Shows that people with Unhealthy lifestyles Those who develop illness in response to negative experiences actually thrive in a more positive environment.
“This means that the same genes are associated with a significantly higher ability to adapt (in a positive environment) and a lower ability to adapt (in a negative environment).” In other words, these genes determine an individual’s sensitivity to environmental conditions. “By contrast, people with a different genetic makeup may remain quite stable no matter what life they have.”
The three theories are needed to provide an explanation
According to Hoogland and Ploeger, you need to combine elements from all three theories to come up with a satisfactory explanation for what causes mental disorders such as depression. “Many therapists know that traumatic childhood experiences can contribute to the development of mental health problems, but significant differences between a person’s childhood environment and the environment they live in as an adult also do not.”
Hoogland and Ploeger also believe that therapists are often unaware of developmental discrepancies and the extent to which they cause disorders. “Finally, they often do not know that people who are relatively vulnerable to it Mental illness It can actually flourish in a positive way environmentHoagland en Plogger concluded that these ideas may lead to better treatments.
Maren Hoagland et al., Two Different Types of Mismatch: Merging the Evolution Hypothesis and the Evolutionary Mismatch Hypothesis, Perspectives on psychology (2022). doi: 10.1177/17456916221078318
University of Amsterdam
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