Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Evolution beyond adaptation: a critical step for evolutionary theory

Posted 04 Jul 2015 / 0

The July 2015 issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution features a really important review article entitled “Selection on stability across ecological scales“. The paper embraces the idea that the stability properties of ecological systems dictate the configuration of extant social groups, interacting species pairs, and overall ecological communities. Lev Ginzburg, my Ph.D. advisor, has Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Articles, Community Ecology, Ecological Modeling, Ecosystem Ecology, Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Macroevolution, Multilevel Selection, Predation, System Stability

Can we resolve the ‘group selection debate’ by focusing on human cooperation?

Posted 12 Jun 2015 / 13

ASEBL Journal “Morality and Selection – How?” This is an interesting article that tries to frame the debate over multilevel selection. Lots of other people have tried to similarly frame this debate, and I am pretty sure that no single prescription is going to resolve the debate. There is a debate about whether we need Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Group Selection, Methods, Multilevel Selection, Social Norms, Web

Our paper on a super-rational solution to the tragedy of the commons published in Scientific Reports

Posted 14 Jan 2015 / 0

I am very pleased to announce that a paper that I worked on with collaborators Jun-Zhou He, Rui-Wu Wang, and Yao-Tang Li has been published in the open-access journal Scientific Reports. The paper, entitled “Asymmetric interaction paired with a super-rational strategy might resolve the tragedy of the commons without requiring recognition or negotiation“, considers how Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Coevolution, Cooperation, Game Theory, Multilevel Selection, My publications, Phenotypic Plasticity

Evolution 2014: Day 0

Posted 20 Jun 2014 / 0

I started off this year’s Evolution meeting early. The conference is — at its core —  a four-day affair. But the days leading into the “official” start on Friday evening feature larger workshops aimed at building skills. I chose to attend the Experiencing Evolution workshop. Here’s what this session promised: Evolution is a key biological concept, Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Assessment Methods, Behavior, Coevolution, Competition, Conferences, Cooperation, Evolution, Evolution Education, Evolutionary Modeling, Genetics, Grants & Funding, Higher Education, Individual-based Models, Lesson Ideas, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Phylogenetics, Population Genetics, Population Growth, Predation, Reproductive Fitness, Science in Art & Design, Sex and Reproduction, Society for the Study of Evolution, Talks & Seminars, Teaching, Teaching Tools

Evolution 2014: Evolution of cooperation in the high school classroom? You bet!

Posted 20 Jun 2014 / 0

Will Ratcliff presented an absolutely amazing set of laboratories that explore the evolution of multicellularity ( They can be done with high school or college students, and allow students to see the benefits of cooperation and the action of multilevel selection in a few weeks’ worth of laboratory work. Really impressive classroom activity design!

A Minor Post, Competition, Conferences, Cooperation, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection, Predation, Society for the Study of Evolution

Writing and record-keeping as important tools in the evolution of large-scale human cooperation

Posted 25 Oct 2013 / 0

This View of Life “The Role Of Writing And Recordkeeping In The Cultural Evolution Of Human Cooperation” What is also so interesting about written language is that it is another means of defining a group: only those who are literate and can read the particular recorded language can fully benefit from the cooperation fostered by Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Empathy, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection

My review of “Origins of Altruism and Cooperation” is published in QRB

Posted 30 Aug 2013 / 0

I am excited to report that my review of Origins of Altruism and Cooperation was just published in the Quarterly Review of Biology. Although it requires some work to get through, this collection presents a really important counter-narrative to the prevailing attitude in evolutionary biology that altruism is simply self-interest in disguise. The book uses Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Behavior, Books, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Empathy, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Kin Selection, Multilevel Selection, My publications, Primatology, Reciprocity, Social Networks, Social Norms

Freeman Dyson wins the contest, and then says the contest is stupid

Posted 07 Dec 2012 / 0

Institute for Advanced Study “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” One of my favorite skateboarders when I was young was Natas Kaupas, an innovative skater who pioneered a lot of modern streetstyle. Natas was one of those skaters who could do things that no other skateboarders could, but he was not particularly successful in one arena that was Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Modeling (General), Multilevel Selection, Reciprocity

Enforcing norms may be for personal gain, not to maintain social order (at least amongst Santa Barbara undergraduates)

Posted 28 Sep 2012 / 2

PLoS ONE “What Are Punishment and Reputation for?” Once again, a valuable and ingenious experiment over-reaches on the meaning of its finding, and the over-reach bleeds into the popular media. This is a really valuable experiment in that it asks about the scale at which social norms are enforced. It is significant that participants in Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Cooperation, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Multilevel Selection, Psychological Adaptation, Punishment, Reciprocity, Reputation, Social Networks, Social Norms