Vocabulary and sexual selection

Although an extremely large vocabulary is one of the few characteristics that differentiates humans from other animals, the research literature on language has virtually bypassed it, instead focussing on the structure of language, how it is represented in our brains etc. These are important topics but the purpose and usage of vocabulary is too. And so I decided to design and carry out an experiment for my BSc. in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (I graduated in 2008).

I submitted it for publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal (you can read it here – pdf) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of people who have picked up on it, some of them are linked to below:
Universities where it is being taught (external links may get updated and hence not work)

The Psychology of Human Relationships (PSY350), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia (2010)

Psychology of Communication (Psyc461), George Mason University, Virginia, USA (2010).

Language in Culture and Society, Department of Sociology, University of Texas, Texas, USA, (2010)
Academic citations

Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2010). Evolutionary psychology and the origins of language. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 289-307.

Markov, A.V. (2009). Human origin and evolution. A reviw of advances in paleoanthropology, comparative genetics, and evolutionary psychology. Zhurnal Obshchei Biologi, 70, 359-371.

White, E. (2009). Verbal creativity, mate value, and sexual selection.

Monson, S.S. (2010). Two truths and a lie: an evolutionary basis for the strategic use of language.

Lavie, M. (2008). Show me the money: status, cultural capital, and conspicuous consumption

Hampton, S. (2010). Essential Evolutionary Psychology. Sage Publications: London. (page 158).

Media, book & blog citations

Psychology Today (2010). Gad Saad. ‘Men use fancy words to impress the ladies’.

Miller, G. (2009). Spent, sex, evolution, and consumer behavior (Penguin).

Boston Globe (2009). Kevin Lewis. ‘Ha, I’d buy that’