Evolutionary Mismatch and Chronic Psychological Stress

Author(s): Sharon L. Brenner, John P. Jones, Riitta H. Rutanen-Whaley, William Parker, Mark V. Flinn, and Michael P. Muehlenbein


Stress and disease. Although psychological stress is an adaptive phenotypic state necessary for survival, chronic psychological stress in developed, industrialized human populations can be characterized as an immune-altering factor associated with a wide range of allergic, autoimmune, and other inflammatory-related diseases. Modern lifestyles, chronic disease, and psychological stress. Here we present a synopsis of factors in industrialized populations which might increase or decrease psychological stress compared with preindustrialized populations. Several sources are identified which might increase chronic stress in postindustrialized society, although the stress induced by half of those is counterbalanced to some degree by decreasing the likelihood that individuals will be consigned to undesirable social roles that developed following the agricultural revolution. The environment of evolutionary adaptedness and disease. It is hypothesized that chronic stress in industrialized society might exceed that found in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness, particularly for those individuals who, for whatever reason, have not found satisfying social roles among the wide range of options available.


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