We joke about our cave man heritage, the hunter deep within our genes as well as other characteristics to explain or excuse why we get easily distracted when having conversations with our spouse whilst the TV is on. It was always a tough sell.
Finally “evolutionary psychology” shows how we are still very connected to those traits that stem from our earlier evolution as cave men. We are now fully justified in attending to sights and sounds away from the conversations – it could really be a sabre tooth tiger that make us check and ensure we are not in danger.
For more important aspects of what these traits mean for us in dealing with people see the article from Harvard Business Review http://hbr.org/1998/07/how-hardwired-is-human-behavior/ar/1 To quote “people today still seek those traits that made survival possible then: an instinct to fight furiously when threatened, for instance, and a drive to trade information and share secrets. Human beings are, in other words, hardwired. You can take the person out of the Stone Age, evolutionary psychologists contend, but you can’t take the Stone Age out of the person”