» ARQOL: Quality of Life from an Evolutionary Perspective - International Society for Quality of Life Studies - ISQOLS

January 3, 2013

ARQOL: Quality of Life from an Evolutionary Perspective

Quality of Life from an Evolutionary Perspective

Prospectus for a Special Issue of Applied Research in Quality of Life

David Sloan Wilson and Jerry Lieberman

Applied Research in Quality of Life, the official journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS), invites submissions for a special issue on Quality of Life from an evolutionary perspective. The special issue is based on a workshop organized by the Evolution Institute that was held at the University of Memphis November 4 – 7, 2011.

However, submissions are also invited from authors who did not attend the workshop.



Humans are a product of evolution, no less than other species – especially when evolution is conceptualized broadly to include cultural in addition to genetic inheritance mechanisms. All human-related topics are being rethought from a modern evolutionary perspective, and Quality of Life (QOL) should be no exception.

QOL emerged as a recognized topic in the 1970s to address shortcomings in economic indicators that were used to inform public policy. The widespread assumption was that increasing economic activity, as measured by indices such as Gross National Product, would increase human welfare. The concept of QOL challenges this assumption and seeks to create metrics that measure human welfare more directly, upon which more effective public policies can be based. As an example, the United Nations Human Development Index is a composite of three factors: life expectancy, education, and income. An entire discipline has developed around the QOL concept, including the ISQOLS and its official journal.

The EI workshop brought experts from the field of QOL together with experts on human biocultural evolution to explore how an explicitly evolutionary perspective can add value to the study of QOL. One basic insight was that QOL needs to be studied from an integrated proximate and ultimate evolutionary perspective. The subjective experience of wellbeing is different from the physical state of wellbeing, and the two exist in a complex relationship. QOL researchers have always appreciated this distinction by developing metrics for both subjective experience (e.g., happiness) and physical wellbeing (e.g., longevity), but a more explicit evolutionary approach is likely to add considerable value.

A second basic insight is that QOL metrics are needed to meet two very different purposes. On one hand, composite indices are needed to provide alternatives to composite economic indices for policy decisions, especially at-large (e.g., national) scales. On the other hand, increasing QOL in real-world human populations requires solving many specific problems such as health, education, and security. Each of these major categories consists of many subcategories such as diet-related diseases, infectious diseases, and so on. Solving the many specific problems contributing to QOL requires metrics for each problem and an integrated multivariate database rather than composite indices. Terms such as “dashboard,” “dataverse,” and “the quantified community” are used to describe such efforts, which can also be informed from an evolutionary perspective. In addition to solving specific problems associated with QOL, an integrated multivariate database can be used to create and validate composite indices.


Organization of the Special Issue

Consequently, the special issue of Applied Research in Quality of Life will feature articles on these topics:

1) The development of composite QOL indices from an integrated proximate and ultimate evolutionary perspective.

2) The development of indices that address specific problems associated with QOL in real-world human populations.

3) The development of multivariate databases that allow many specific problems associated with QOL to be addressed, and which can be implemented in multiple locations.

4) The illustration of how public policies and programs to encourage more vibrant, just and democratic institutions could be enhanced by evolutionary theory to enhance QOL.

5) The development of approaches to community transformation from an evolutionary perspective that enrich QOL in communities.

6) The provision of model approaches that integrate bottom-up, middle-out, and top-down transformation based upon an evolutionary-enriched approach to QOL scholarship, which local activists and collaborative elected officials can embrace in serious efforts to build the “just city.”

Authors interested in submitting a manuscript should first submit an abstract for review, according to the timetable outlined below.


Specifications and Timeline

Abstract deadline: February 15, 2013

Submission guidelines: maximum of 250 words, double-spaced, in 12-point font

Reviewer feedback: March 15, 2013

Submission deadline: May 30, 2013

Submission guidelines: maximum of 30 double-spaced pages in 12-point Times New Roman font, formatted in APA style

Reviewer feedback: July 30, 2013

Revisions: October 30, 2013

Completion and transmission of special issue for production and further processing: November 30, 2013

Please send submissions for abstracts and final papers to QOL@evolution-institute.org

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