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The Evolutionary Roots of Decision-Making

The process of decision-making is a significant and critical process during one’s lifetime. What are right decisions? How can one choose correctly? And do all of us have the tools that qualify us to make our best, optimal decisions?

According to the theory of evolution, it is necessary for humans - and animals - to be able to reproduce, and for the newborns to survive. It is for this reason that decision-making must accommodate these conditions.

The human body was lanned in a way that behaviors and actions taken, concerning reproduction and survival, are controlled biologically.

Human behaviors adapt to changing times and environments, but always rely on evolutionary roots to reproduce and survive.

Here are a few examples:

Behaviors of self defense:

Self defense is a natural, congenital inclination for the survival of an organism. Pain, for example, drives the individual to back down from life-threatening situations, and fear is extremely important to avoid risks. Fear releases adrenaline, which in turn amplifies certain senses, helping to find a safe place to go to. Fear keeps one from unnecessarily being in dark places, avoiding threatening people or violent people, or touching dangerous, sharp objects, sudden loud noises and more. In anything related to self defense from other humans wanting to harm us, our faces are the main source of information. Our faces are a reflection of our biology, and they help us know Who we can get close to, and who we should avoid (see article - “The connection between biology and appearance/face structure”).

Behaviors of protection from infectious diseases:

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that around 15 million people die from infectious diseases each year, especially caused by diseases transferred from person to person, such as the flu, tuberculosis and AIDS. The natural selection system for survival has developed behavioral preventive mechanisms to help avoid infections and diseases. The avoidance can come in the form of hearing infection-related suspicious noises, such as coughing or sneezing, or visual signs of infection, such as sores, mucus, skin disease, facial deformities, dirt, contaminated food, putrid smells and more. Self defense and disease prevention systems are physiological and psychological, working together on picking up clues to risks and preventing them. Even choosing a mate is influenced by disease prevention and a person will refrain from people who might transfer infections or diseases to them. Many significant decisions are made to defend against diseases and infections. As said, the face reflects the person’s biology and immune system, and makes a person refrain from contact accordingly.


Decision-making is affected by hormonal levels. Hormones are important chemical messengers in the human body, efficiently transferring signals and instructions from one array of cells to another. Over 50 different hormones have been identified in humans and they affect almost every cell, tissue and organ of the entire body, including growth, development, metabolism, the equilibrium of our internal environment (“homeostasis”), sexual functions and fertility. The hormonal concentrations affect our personality structure and behavior throughout our lifetime. Hormones are produced in every person, but are found in different levels when comparing males and females, and even different individuals.

Testosterone - male and female fetuses differ in their concentrations of testosterone. The amount of hormone is determined as of the eighth week of pregnancy. This and many other hormones take part in the development of individual differences in behavior between each person, and also in the variances between genders. Testosterone can make a difference in behaviors such as: the level of aggressive behavior, financial potential abilities, the ability to feel empathy, social integration, risk-taking and more. The levels of testosterone and other hormones are reflected in one’s face, a fact that enables potential behavior recognition, making a person want to come closer, or to avoid the person being examined.

Choosing mates:

Acquiring a mate is a survival, evolutionary need to pass down genes to the next generations, and as such, there is a huge importance in choosing the right one. Who are the best mates? The ones with the best biological compatibility, creating a strong biological system in the child, making them able to survive life’s conditions. How can an individual identify their best mate? Using the face. The human face allows us to receive biological signals required to find the best biologically-suited mate (see articles: ‘Our Face as a Key to Love’, ‘Attractiveness and Beauty, and Everything in Between’, ‘Faces and first impressions’). People have developed cautionary actions in choosing a mate to reduce risks, and they will tend to stay away from people who can harm their health or hurt them, physically or emotionally, and tend to connect with people that seem healthy, powerful and have strong genes. The attraction, or their lack of, to potential mates, is influenced by the evolutionary need for reproduction and survival even if there is no intention of giving birth; this is a biological decision embedded in every organism.

Facetrom can make an optimal, biologically-based match between two potential mates using pictures of their faces.

Skills and abilities:

Can a person choose their own skills?

Does the 10,000 hour rule, stating that any person can be good at anything they wish, if they just practice for at least 10,000 hours, hold true?

Can marathon runners also be Olympic weightlifters? Can a person with no charisma (the ability to affect the environment and inspire support in strangers) practice and become charismatic?

Studies show that a person cannot choose their own skills and what to excel at;

but rather, it is the person’s biological system that is the ultimate decider.

For example:

Can a person’s physical abilities be suited for aerobic sports as well as anaerobic, is that same person more suited for a team or individual sport, are they more suited to extreme or traditional sports. As proof - a person with high testosterone levels will seek thrills in fields that are considered to be of higher risk, or those that require physical. In order to succeed in aerobic exercise, a person must have the ability to exert great physical effort for a long time (not everyone can) ,and more

Leadership and management skills - not everyone can be a good manager. A good manager is charismatic and can influence people, have organizational skills, financial skills more. We are born with these abilities and are reflected in one’s face.

People are born with unique biological characteristics, influencing their behaviors, choices and decision-making.

Evolution dictates a person’s decisions and behaviors in life’s most significant times. It is what allows the organism to reproduce and to survive for generations.


Kenrick, D. T., & Griskevicius, V. (2013). The rational animal how evolution made us smarter than we think. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Neuberg, S. L., Kenrick, D. T., & Schaller, M. (2011). Human threat management systems: Self-protection and disease avoidance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 1042- 1051.

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