Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

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

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

Major masts made by multiplicative modification

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Ecology Letters “Extended flowering intervals of bamboos evolved by discrete multiplication” This is a great example of how theory can be used to explain patterns in nature by matching patterns in nature. Masting is a group-level evolved phenomenon: producing seeds in abundance during a single year where every other plant of your species is doing Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Multilevel Selection, Predation

Group phenotypic composition: implications for individuals and their groups

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Trends in Ecology & Evolution “From Individuals to Groups and Back: The Evolutionary Implications of Group Phenotypic Composition” Man, I wish that this article was written in a more accessible manner, because what it presents is important. There is a critical feedback between how the composition of groups affects individuals and how individuals affect the Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Evolutionary Modeling, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Phenotypic Plasticity, Population Genetics, Social Diversity

Asymmetrical interaction best explained by superrational rather than rational strategy

Posted 08 Sep 2015 / 0

This View of Life “How Fairness Depends On Your Social Status” I found this study — which I am discovering a bit late — to be really interesting in light of a paper I published with co-authors earlier this year. It seems that when interactions are asymmetric, players in a “dominant” position tend to be Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Cooperation, Game Theory, Multilevel Selection, Reputation, Social Capital, Social Norms, Web

Have we outgrown the scale of cooperation supported by the Big Gods of Big Religion?

Posted 08 Sep 2015 / 0

Cliodynamica “From Big Gods to the Big Brother” There are a bunch of really interesting ideas in this post, particularly related to the challenges associated with scaling up cooperation. As Turchin nicely points out, once you get past the tribal scale reputation alone — even fueled by the power of gossip — is not going Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Behavior, Belief, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Group Selection, History, Human Uniqueness, Multilevel Selection, Punishment, Religion, Reputation, Social Norms, Web

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