Intuitive ontology

From PsychEvos Wiki

Intuitive Ontology is a concept in evolutionary psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science that refers to the innate categories and structures of understanding that humans possess as a result of natural selection. These intuitive ontologies help individuals make sense of the world around them by providing basic frameworks for organizing and interpreting information. In evolutionary psychology, the study of intuitive ontologies can provide insights into the origins and development of human thought processes and mental structures.


Intuitive ontologies are thought to be the result of natural selection, as they have evolved to help humans navigate and understand their environment in an adaptive manner[1]. These cognitive structures provide a foundation for perceiving and interpreting the world, allowing for the rapid and efficient processing of information. Some examples of intuitive ontologies include categories such as "person", "artifact", and "animal"[2].

Domain-specific systems

One application of the concept of intuitive ontologies is in the study of domain-specific systems, which are cognitive structures that are specialized for processing information within a particular domain. An example of a domain-specific system is face recognition, which some psychologists argue is a highly specialized system that has evolved to be particularly adept at processing facial information[3]. In this context, intuitive ontologies provide a framework for understanding the cognitive mechanisms that underlie domain-specific systems.

Intuitive ontologies and scientific understanding

The study of intuitive ontologies has implications for understanding how humans develop scientific knowledge and make sense of complex concepts. Because intuitive ontologies are the product of natural selection, they are adaptive but do not necessarily guarantee accurate or complete knowledge of the world.[4] This can lead to misconceptions or limited understanding of certain scientific concepts, as intuitive ontologies may not always align with scientific evidence. Researchers have used the concept of intuitive ontology to study how people understand and learn about various scientific topics, including human evolution.[5]

Connection to evolutionary psychology

Intuitive ontologies are closely connected to the field of evolutionary psychology, which seeks to understand human behavior and cognition through the lens of evolutionary processes[. The concept of intuitive ontology provides a framework for understanding the innate cognitive structures that have developed as a result of natural selection, which can in turn help explain the origins and development of various aspects of human cognition and behavior.[6]

See also

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Domain-specificity
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Natural selection