Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Crucial climate talks in Paris take place in a socially repressive environment

Posted 30 Nov 2015 / 0

At Paris, two equally-nihilistic cultures clash, but where do the people get a seat at the table? Today crucial climate talks are under way in Paris, France amid massive police presence and an atmosphere of social repression. The message is to “stay off the streets” as the leaders of world (and a few monarchs and businesspeople) meet Read More

A Major Post, Activism, Anthropogenic Change, Belief, Climate Change, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Environmental Justice, History, Memetic Fitness, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, Sustainability, Sustainable Energy

To be an effective critical theorist of science, it helps to understand science

Posted 23 Nov 2015 / 0

The Chronicle of Higher Education “An Unevolved View of Gender Evolution” Although I am sympathetic to a number of the critiques of traditional sexual selection theory, I have to agree with the overall thrust of this book review: if you are going to shine a critical light on scientific understandings of sex differences in humans, Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Ethics, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Sex and Reproduction, Sexual Conflict, Sexual Selection

Primates — but not their rodent relatives — can infer the effects of other individuals on resource availability

Posted 23 Nov 2015 / 0

Image courtesy of Frans de Waal via Wikimedia Commons Journal of Comparative Psychology “Inference in a social context: A comparative study of capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri), hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), and rats (Rattus norvegicus)” This is not a surprising finding, but it reinforces the fact that the ability to understand the effects Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Empathy, Primates

Jeremy Yoder on contemporary selection for increased human height

Posted 23 Nov 2015 / 0

Social Evolution Forum “Natural Selection on Human Height Doesn’t Measure Up To Much” I agree overall with Yoder’s analysis, although it seems that he misreads the study a bit: by my reading, women’s height also had an effect on the survival of offspring, although the effect was nearly half that of men. But Yoder’s larger Read More

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Development, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Human Evolution, Natural Selection, Population Genetics, Web

Religious children are less altruistic… or maybe not…

Posted 16 Nov 2015 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons A recent study published in Current Biology claims to have demonstrated that children raised in religious households are less altruistic and more vindictive than their peers raised in non-religious households. Using two different tests — a Dictator Game conducted with stickers and a task that measured reactions to watching interpersonal Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Evolution, Emotion, Empathy, Ethics, Group Selection, Human Nature, Multilevel Selection, Psychological Adaptation, Punishment, Religion, Reputation, Social Norms

Maybe infants don’t really care who helps and who hinders after all…

Posted 16 Nov 2015 / 0

PLoS ONE “Probing the Strength of Infants’ Preference for Helpers over Hinderers: Two Replication Attempts of Hamlin and Wynn (2011)” Great example of how studies need to be replicated! I am wondering if funding agencies should reserve particular lines for replication studies. Does this kind of funding opportunity exist?

A Minor Post, Altruism, Articles, Behavior, Cooperation, Development, Empathy, MSCI-463, The Evolution of Cooperation

The problem with same sex attraction “for the good of the species”

Posted 16 Nov 2015 / 0

arXiv “Toy model for the adaptive origins of the sexual orientation continuum” This is an interesting idea that definitely bears further exploration, but by my reading of the math, the tradeoff here (what’s good for the species in having trait diversity versus what’s good for an individual in achieving reproductive success) is expressed purely in Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Evolutionary Modeling, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Sex and Reproduction

Fascinating and clever study of how personal contact norms vary by relationship

Posted 10 Nov 2015 / 0

Image from PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Topography of social touching depends on emotional bonds between humans” (Suvilehto et al. 2015) This is a really clever study in that it aggregates a lot of data that is collected rather efficiently from a lot of participants. This makes the results robust for this Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Communication, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Human Nature, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Social Networks, Social Norms

Jonathan Haidt on the business advantage of being ethical

Posted 10 Nov 2015 / 0

This is a fascinating talk by Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist situated within one of the most prestigious business schools in the world whose research focuses on morality and emotion. I can’t help but be impressed when someone addressing business concerns leads with biology, and Haidt does a good job of summarizing the “disruptive cooperation” (read: competitively-superior Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Competition, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Economics, Film, Television, & Video, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Multilevel Selection, Parasitism, Religion, Social Norms

That beard and deep voice may be to put him in his place, not attract her

Posted 09 Nov 2015 / 0

There have been a lot of evolutionary psychology experiments that have tried to define both female and male attractiveness to the opposite sex, an indirect way to get at the nature of sexual selection in humans. A new study published in Behavioral Ecology reminds us that sexual selection is not the only process that has Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Communication, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Uniqueness, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Psychological Adaptation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Reputation, Sex and Reproduction, Sexual Competition, Sexual Selection