Evolutionary Context

A long-accepted evolutionary explanation of anxiety is that it reflects an in-built 'fight or flight' system, which errs on the side of safety. One line of research suggests that specific dispositions to monitor and react to social threats may have evolved, reflecting the vital and complex importance of social living and social rank in human ancestral environments. Charles Darwin originally wrote about the evolutionary basis of shyness and blushing, and modern evolutionary psychology and psychiatry also addresses social phobia in this context. It has been hypothesized that in modern day society these evolved tendencies can become more inappropriately activated and result in some of the cognitive 'distortions' or 'irrationalities' identified in cognitive-behavioral models and therapies.