MBE: Extra Credit Assignment: Using Evolutionary Principles to Explain Cultural Products.

Throughout the semester I used cultural products (e.g. movies, tv shows, music) to illustrate key course concepts. Now it’s your turn. For this extra credit assignment I want you to use your knowledge and understanding of evolutionary psychology to tell me exactly how evolutionary principles help you explain/understand the lyrics from three different songs that I have selected. For each song I will give you a course concept and you need to answer a few questions about how the lyrics relate to it. Each song analysis is worth 10 points, so you can earn up to 30 extra credit points toward your final grade.

The three songs I have selected are Peggy O, by The National, Cortez the Killer, by Neil Young, and Time to Pretend, by MGMT. Lyrics for each song are below. I have highlighted (in green) some of the lyrics that you might want to focus on as you answer the questions. Also, I have posted a video for each song in the Moodle block labeled Additional Class Materials. The songs are in a Powerpoint. I think watching the videos enhances the lyrics—the lyrics come alive more as you listen to them as compared to simply reading them.

Course concepts for Peggy O: male/female attraction, parent-offspring conflict over mate choice

  1. What physical features might lead the captain to consider Peggy O to be pretty?
  2. Why might mama disapprove of the Peggy O’s relationship with the captain?
  3. How does the captain suggest to mama that he is an appropriate mate choice?

Course concept for Cortez the Killer: Noble Savage

  1. Do the lyrics reflect belief or disbelief in the Noble Savage?
  2. Based on your answer to the first question, does science support or refute the song’s take on the Noble Savage?

Course concept for Time to Pretend: Life History Theory

  1. What type of life history strategy is the singer portraying?
  2. What specific elements of the lyrics support your answer to the first question?

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