Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

What do we know about Cultural Transmission?

Posted 29 Jan 2016 / 0

As I have been working on my book-in-progress (Breeders, Propagators, & Creators), I have encountered a difficult-to-answer question of road-block proportions: how do we quantify cultural transmission? The focus of my book is the tradeoff humans face between making babies, spreading existing culture, and inventing new ideas. If such a tradeoff exists, we need to be able Read More

A Major Post, Behavior, Belief, Books, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Communication, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Emotion, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Memetic Fitness, Parenting, Psychology, Religion, Sexual Conflict, Sociology

How do we know when people are actually happy?

Posted 15 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Science “Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness” This paper was published back in March, but I just discovered it. I am somewhat fascinated by psychological studies of happiness, because happiness is so hard to pin down. What is happiness, and can we rely on people to accurately report how Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Belief, Data Limitation, Emotion, Happiness, Psychology, Uncategorized

Is there a trade-off between reproduction and creativity?

Posted 12 Jan 2016 / 0

One of the ideas that I am exploring in my work-in-progress book Breeders, Propagators, & Creators is that human beings face a fundamental trade-off between three activities: Breeding: behaviors that lead to the production of offpsring (which might — but does not necessarily — include parenting); Propagating: behaviors that spread existing cultural ideas; and Creating: behaviors that introduce Read More

A Major Post, Behavior, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Data Limitation, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Hypothesis Testing, Memetic Fitness, Reproductive Fitness, Sex and Reproduction, Sociology

How the built environment influences our ability to sustain personal and environmental commitments

Posted 07 Jan 2016 / 0

“exercise is good in principle, but it’s almost never the case that it’s the best thing you could do right now.” -Dan Ariely There’s a really interesting experiment being conducted by behavioral economist Dan Ariely and the new WNYC program Only Human. Called “Stick to It!“, the experiment allows listeners to the show to volunteer to download Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Nature, Mismatch theory, Psychology, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Sustainable Transportation, Sustainable Urban Design

Personalized DNA tests likely to provide further evidence of human inter-connectedness

Posted 06 Jan 2016 / 0

Great NPR piece here on how new technologies in personalized DNA testing have the potential to broadly expand our understanding of human relatedness. I am particularly interested in the idea that these tests further reinforce previous research showing just how much of our gene pool is shared globally rather than locally. While these tests are Read More

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Anthropology, Genetics, Human Evolution, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Radio & Podcasts, Sex and Reproduction, Sexual Competition

It was an honor to talk to St. Francis College!

Posted 14 Dec 2015 / 1

Last Friday (December 11th, 2015) I had the pleasure of speaking to students and faculty at Saint Francis College. I delivered a talk entitled “Highly-creative baby-breeding idea propagators: what human (re)productive choices mean for the future of our species” to an engaged and insightful audience; as this was the final week of classes, I really Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Natural Selection, Population Growth, Public Outreach, Sex and Reproduction, Social Diversity

My first “Breeders, Propagators, & Creators” talk: next Friday at St. Francis College

Posted 04 Dec 2015 / 0

Next Friday, December 11th, at 3 pm I will be delivering a talk at St. Francis College entitled “Highly-creative baby-breeding idea propagators: what human (re)productive choices mean for the future of our species“. The talk is a synopsis of a large section of my book-in-progress Breeders, Propagators, & Creators: Culture, Biology, and the Future of Human Evolution. Read More

A Major Post, Behavior, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Carrying Capacity, Cultural Evolution, Evolution Education, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Intrinsic Growth Rate, Memetic Fitness, Natural Selection, Parenting, Population Growth, Public Outreach, Reproductive Fitness, Sex and Reproduction, Social Diversity

Is family-linked terrorism a cultural and genetic phenomenon?

Posted 03 Dec 2015 / 0

National Public Radio “In Worst Attacks, Terrorists Often Have Fraternal Bonds” This is an interesting — albeit brief — piece on a recent “pattern” that has emerged in terror attacks: teams of attackers are often composed of blood relatives. As a good scientist I have to point out that there’s a danger here of over-generalizing Read More

A Major Post, Activism, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Data Limitation, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Human Evolution, Memetic Fitness, Mismatch theory, Phenotypic Plasticity, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Social Diversity

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