Title: Is Art an Adaptation? Testing evolutionary aesthetics’ hypotheses in tribal population
Panel title: Biocultural Evolutionary Aesthetics as an interdisciplinary study
Participants: Piotr Sękowski, Onerva Kiianlinna & Jerzy Luty
Abstract: The talk aims to analize the cross-cultural evolutionary psychological study that addressed the issue whether art can be considered an adaptation, a by-product of an adaptation, or is not related to adaptability at all on the basis of the data collected from indigenous inhabitants of Papua (Asmat and Kamoro society), including 101 self-described artists (carvers) and 130 non-artists. The results showed that 1) artists did, indeed, have higher reproductive success (measured by the number of their children) than non-artists, but 2) this relationship could be fully explained by artists’ higher conscientiousness and creativity (but not visuo-motor coordination). It provides evidence that art might not be an adaptation but a by-product or spandrel of other adaptive traits.
Bio: Jerzy Luty, philosopher and aesthetician, Assistant Professor at the Department of Personality Psychology of the Institute of Psychology, University of Wrocław. Author of books and papers, most recently: ‘From Aesthetics to Evolutionary Psychology: around Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’’ (2021). Co-author and investigator in the project 'Homo Aestheticus: testing evolutionary aesthetics hypotheses in four tribal population” founded by National Science Center (2021-2024).