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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


LOPEZ-RAMON, María Fernanda  y  FERNANDEZ ACEVEDO, Gustavo. Conceptual convergences between implicit learning theories and the Evolutionary Psychology. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2007, vol.24, n.2, pp.185-210. ISSN 1668-7027.

Throughout the years, a wide range of systems, trends, schools of thought and paradigms have fought to become researchers' and professionals' number one field of study. In Psychology, however, competing has only produced noticeable theoretic dispersion. The aim of the present article is to contribute to the discussion on theoretical integration by analyzing conceptual convergences between two widely circulating perspectives that are also under current development: the theories of implicit learning (IL) and a research program known as Evolutionary Psychology (EP). Both theories have gradually gained increasing importance among current theory trends. The theories of implicit learning, on one hand, have evolved based on empirical data and have revealed their presence in different experimental paradigms and among diverse populations. On the other hand, over the past few years EP has achieved considerable relevance in the theoretic framework, and has provided evolutionary explanations about a great deal of psychological phenomena. In the first two sections we briefly describe the general characteristics of IL and EP, in order to later analyze possible convergences between both perspectives. Firstly, we show the main conceptual principles of IL based on the analysis made by Frensch who classifies the main existing definitions according to different topics: the stimuli that are involved in the acquisition context, the phenomenological character of the process, the structure complexity of implicit learning content, the existing relationship between IL and neural mechanisms that are different from those in explicit learning, and the functional relationship between IL and attention mechanisms. In the second section, we identify three main theoretical aspects of Evolutionary Psychology: the adjustment assumption (according to which mental systems have emerged basically as features that contribute to an organism's successful reproduction); computational modularity hypothesis (the computation systems that make up the mind are relatively autonomous, they work on a specific purpose and solve very limited kinds of problems); and the innate assumption (that states that mental systems are innate and are determined by a genetic program structure). In the third section we describe some attempts at integrating research on implicit learning within an evolutionary framework. We describe Reber's assumptions on implicit learning which suggest that it is an earlier and more basic phylogenetic type of learning than explicit learning; furthermore we examine their relationship with the comprehensive model of Donald's cognitive evolution. In the fourth section, we particularly examine theoretical convergences between IL and EP theories. We believe that there is a common theoretic base between both perspectives. This theoretical base implies accepting a perspective based on an adaptation framework, supported by the fundamental principles of implicit processes and from an innate position. We believe that the massive modularity assumption does not form part of the conceptual commitments in implicit learning theories, even if it does not turn out to be incompatible with these. Finally, in the conclusions, we summarize our main findings, as well as discuss, from an epistemological framework, the advantages that the theoretical compatibilities hold. We examine different paths to reach a conceptual convergence: theoretical reduction, the unification of a set of minor theories which make up another theory that integrates and surpasses previous ones, as well as the integration of two theoretic bodies that were not connected up to that moment and that account to different theoretic authorities. Given that the potential convergence between Evolutionary psychology and implicit learning does not adjust to any of the aforementioned models, we consider it as a special case of integration.

Palabras clave : Implicit learning; Evolutionary Psychology; Compatibility; Integration.

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