GoodTherapy | Adaptation

Closeup of colorful reptile skin Adaptation is a concept in the hypothesis of evolution. Under this theory, an adaptation is a trait in an organism that evolved through lifelike excerpt to serve a specific function. The term adaptation can besides be used colloquially to refer to goodly behavioral changes .

What Is Adaptation?

evolution does not consciously guide the development of organisms, and nothing evolved for a specific aim. alternatively, development is random and determined by survival, producing mutations that result in a genetically deviate population. In any given species, each animal may have slightly different genes or capabilities. When environmental pressures make one trait more useful than another, animals with that genetic trait are more probably to survive. For case, the big, building complex brains of humans could be an adaptation that allowed early people to travel, communicate, solve complex environmental problems, and develop settled civilizations .
An adaptive trait stands in contrast to a maladaptive trait—a trait that makes an organism less disposed to deal with its environment and more probably to die off .

Colloquial Usage

The terminus “ adaptation ” can besides be used to describe behaviors that serve a person good. For case, a therapist might tell a customer that good communication skills are an adaptive behavior. In this context, the term has a similar mean to the biological habit, because adaptive skills make life sentence easier. The difference is that, in colloquial usage, people are not necessarily speaking about evolved traits when they mention adaptations.

The term sometimes refers to deliberate changes in response to the environment. For exercise, a newly divorced person might go to therapy to learn how to adapt to a fresh room of life, with a new relationship status and raw goals .

Psychological Adaptation

much like certain physical traits may survive from generation to genesis when they help an organism outlive, stream inquiry indicates some psychological traits, or adaptations, may act in exchangeable ways .
A psychological adaptation is most much defined as a proclivity toward a certain behavior or think practice. For case, a fear of snakes might be a psychological adaptation that helped protect people from injury or death as a consequence of being bitten. Studies that analyze universal joint similarities in human think may reveal other psychological adaptations. much like the huge majority of people are born with fingernails, certain behaviors or inclinations that occur despite cultural differences could indicate they evolved because they helped past generations survive .

General Adaptation Syndrome

In the checkup discipline and psychology, the term adaptation may besides be used to discuss general adaptation syndrome, which is the body ’ s procedure for responding to stress.

General adaptation syndrome takes space in three stages, which are :

  1. Alarm reaction: This stage is when one’s fight or flight response kicks in. Stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, are released. Someone may experience an increased heart rate and blood pressure when the alarm reaction takes place.
  2. Resistance: The resistance stage focuses on balancing the hormones and physiological responses that were triggered during stage one. If the stressor is gone during the resistance stage, the body’s responses will return to normal; if the stress persists, the body will remain in stress-response mode.
  3. Exhaustion: People who experience stress for a prolonged amount of time may find themselves in the exhaustion stage. This occurs when the body’s alarm reaction was triggered and did not dissipate, draining the body of its energy. Those who have reached the exhaustion stage may report fatigue, anxiety, depression, or other mental or physical health issues.

While general adaptation syndrome is a natural physiologic procedure, it can negatively impact an individual ’ south mental health when their tension responses become out of command or unmanageable to manage. Practicing easiness techniques, such as breathwork or meditation, may help. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, a genial health professional may help you problem-solve and learn skills to gain control over the stressors in your life. Find a therapist near you .

Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic adaptation, besides called the “ hedonic treadmill, ” refers to the research-proven inclination of people to revert fairly promptly to stable levels of happiness after a afflictive or enjoyable consequence. It can besides be applied to a assortment of solid emotional states and could explain why people become habituate to events they ’ ve been repeatedly exposed to. This tendency may be due to a psychological adaptation that keeps us grounded and focused on current issues that demand our attention.

While the two concepts share some similarities, hedonic adaptation is ultimately different from the process of desensitization. In hedonic adaptation, a person ’ mho scene of an event as positive or minus gradually revert to a more neutral horizon of the situation. meanwhile, desensitization refers to a more general miss of perception or reaction to an event that once caused a response .

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  2. Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2008). Biology: Life on earth with physiology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  3. Burgess, L. (2017, November 28). What to know about general adaptation syndrome. Medical News Today. Retrieved from
  4. Gittleman, J. L. (n.d.). Adaptation. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from
  5. Lyubomirsky, S. (2011). Hedonic adaptation to positive and negative experiences. In S. Folkman (Ed.), Oxford library of psychology. The Oxford handbook of stress, health, and coping (pp. 200-224). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
  6. Peterson, C. D., & Barrett, H. C. (2015). Cognition, evolution of. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second ed.). Retrieved from
  7. Schmitt, D. P., & Pilcher, J. J. (2004). Evaluating evidence of psychological adaptation: How do we know one when we see one? Psychological Science, 15(10), 643-649. doi: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00734.x
  8. Scott, E. (2019, May 4). Hedonic adaptation: Why you are not happier. Retrieved from

death Updated : 02-20-2020

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