From Scientific American:
Charles Darwin wasted no time applying his theory of evolution to human psychology, following On the Origin of Species (1859) with The Descent of Man (1871) and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Ever since, the issue hasn’t been whether evolutionary theory can illuminate the study of psychology but how it will do so. Still, a concerted effort to explain how evolution has affected human behavior began only in the 1970s with the emergence of sociobiology. The core idea of sociobiology was simple: behavior has evolved under natural and sexual selection (in response to competition for survival and reproduction, respectively), just as organic form has. Sociobiology thereby extended the study of adaptation to include human behavior.
In his 1985 critique of sociobiology, Vaulting Ambition, philosopher Philip Kitcher noted that, whereas some sociobiology backed modest claims with careful empirical research, the theoretical reach of the dominant program greatly exceeded its evidential grasp. Kitcher called this program “pop sociobiology” because it employed evolutionary principles “to advance grand claims about human nature and human social institutions” and was “deliberately designed to command popular attention.”
Times have changed. Although some self-identified sociobiologists are still around, the current fashion is evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology maintains that adaptation is to be found among the psychological mechanisms that control behavior rather than among behaviors themselves. But, as the old saw goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although some work in evolutionary psychology backs modest claims with careful empirical research, a dominant strain, pop evolutionary psychology, or Pop EP, offers grand and encompassing claims about human nature for popular consumption.