Beyond mental health: An evolutionary analysis of development under risky and supportive environmental conditions: An introduction to the special section

Bruce J. Ellis, David F. Bjorklund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Evolutionary approaches to behavior have increasingly captured the attention and imagination of academics and laypeople alike. One part of this trend has been the increasing influence of evolutionary theory in developmental science. The articles in this special section of Developmental Psychology attempt to demonstrate why an evolutionary analysis is needed to more fully understand the contexts and contingencies of development. The 3 theoretical articles articulate the core evolutionary logic underlying conditional adaptation (and maladaptation) to both stressful and supportive environmental conditions over development. These theoretical articles are then followed by 9 empirical articles that test these evolutionary-developmental theories and hypotheses. Finally, 6 commentaries evaluate the prospects, pitfalls, and implications of this body of work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-597
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2012



  • Adaptive phenotypic plasticity
  • Developmental programming
  • Differential susceptibility
  • Evolutionary-developmental psychology
  • Life history theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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