A series of experimental studies by multiple groups of researchers have found that displaying images of watching eyes causes people to behave more prosocially. It is not yet clear whether watching eyes increase prosocial motivation per se, or whether they simply make people's behavior more normative. Here, we report results from a surreptitious behavioral experiment examining the impacts of watching eye images and cues to local norms on charitable donations in a controlled setting. Eye images significantly increased average donations. Eye images did not make people conform more closely to the apparent norm overall. Instead, there were different patterns according to the apparent norm. For an apparent norm of small donations, eye images made many participants more generous than the norm. For an apparent norm of large donations, there was an excess of participants giving zero in the no-eyes treatment, which was abolished in the eyes treatment. Our results can be explained by a combination of watching eyes increasing prosocial motivation and reluctance to leave a donation visibly less generous than the norm.
Socioeconomic gradients in health behavior are pervasive and well documented. Yet, there is little consensus on their causes. Behavioral ecological theory predicts that, if people of lower socioeconomic position (SEP) perceive greater personal extrinsic mortality risk than those of higher SEP, they should disinvest in their future health. We surveyed North American adults for reported effort in looking after health, perceived extrinsic and intrinsic mortality risks, and measures of SEP. We examined the relationships between these variables and found that lower subjective SEP predicted lower reported health effort. Lower subjective SEP was also associated with higher perceived extrinsic mortality risk, which in turn predicted lower reported health effort. The effect of subjective SEP on reported health effort was completely mediated by perceived extrinsic mortality risk. Our findings indicate that perceived extrinsic mortality risk may be a key factor underlying SEP gradients in motivation to invest in future health.
Socioeconomic disadvantage may cause individuals to have lower expectations of longevity and not engage in healthy behaviours because they judge the long-term health benefits of these to be minimal. We explored demographic, health behaviour, health and socioeconomic correlates of subjectively estimated lifespan ('anticipated survival'); the ability of anticipated survival to predict actual survival; and whether the predictive ability of anticipated survival differed by other variables, particularly socioeconomic position.
Summary Childhood adversity has been associated with accelerated menarcheal and reproductive timing in females. The relationship between family- and neighbourhood-level measures of childhood adversity, menarcheal timing and intended reproductive timing was investigated in a sample of 354 English adolescent girls. The data were collected from March to June 2012. In total 90 of the participants had reached menarche. Frequent residential relocations increased the likelihood of reaching menarche (HR 1.11; 95%CI 1.02-1.22). Girls who had moved house one to four times or five or more times, were respectively, more than twice (HR 2.14; 95%CI 1.23-3.73) and more than three times (HR 3.20; 95%CI 1.44-7.10) as likely to have reached menarche than girls who had never moved house. Frequent residential relocations were associated with stepfather co-residence, increased number of half/stepsiblings and reduced feelings of family support. Menarche was also accelerated by the presence of half/stepsisters. There was no relationship between menarcheal timing and intended reproductive timing. Frequent residential relocations may indicate instability in a young person's life, which is often outside of their control. Extending childhood adversity measures to include residential relocations could be important in better understanding the role early life events play in accelerating menarche.
The decision to consume toxic prey is a trade-off between the benefits of obtaining nutrients and the costs of ingesting toxins. This trade-off is affected by current state: animals will consume more toxic prey if they are food deprived. However, whether the trade-off is affected by developmental history is currently unknown. We studied the decision to eat quinine-injected mealworms in adult starling siblings that had been exposed to either high or low levels of food competition as chicks, via a brood size manipulation. At the time of our experiments, the two groups of birds did not differ in size, body weight or current environment. Each bird was presented with the toxic prey while living on a high-quality diet and a low-quality diet. We found an effect of diet, with birds consuming more toxic prey while on the low-quality diet, and also of developmental history, with birds from the high-competition brood size treatment eating more toxic prey than their low-competition siblings. The effects of brood size treatment were not completely mediated by early growth, although we did find evidence that early growth affected toxic prey consumption independently of brood size treatment. We discuss our results in relation to adaptive developmental plasticity and the developmental origins of behavioural variation.
The prevalence of antisocial behavior varies across time and place. The likelihood of committing such behavior is affected by, and also affects, the local social environment. To further our understanding of this dynamic process, we conducted two studies of antisocial behavior, punishment, and social norms. These studies took place in two neighborhoods in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. According to a previous study, Neighborhood A enjoys relatively low frequencies of antisocial behavior and crime and high levels of social capital. In contrast, Neighborhood B is characterized by relatively high frequencies of antisocial behavior and crime and low levels of social capital. In Study 1, we used an economic game to assess neighborhood differences in theft, third-party punishment (3PP) of theft, and expectation of 3PP. Participants also reported their perceived neighborhood frequency of cooperative norm violation ("cheating"). Participants in Neighborhood B thought that their neighbors commonly cheat but did not condone cheating. They stole more money from their neighbors in the game, and were less punitive of those who did, than the residents of Neighborhood A. Perceived cheating was positively associated with theft, negatively associated with the expectation of 3PP, and central to the neighborhood difference. Lower trust in one's neighbors and a greater subjective value of the monetary cost of punishment contributed to the reduced punishment observed in Neighborhood B. In Study 2, we examined the causality of cooperative norm violation on expectation of 3PP with a norms manipulation. Residents in Neighborhood B who were informed that cheating is locally uncommon were more expectant of 3PP. In sum, our results provide support for three potentially simultaneous positive feedback mechanisms by which the perception that others are behaving antisocially can lead to further antisocial behavior: (1) motivation to avoid being suckered, (2) decreased punishment of antisocial behavior, and (3) decreased expectation of punishment of antisocial behavior. Consideration of these mechanisms and of norm psychology will help us to understand how neighborhoods can descend into an antisocial culture and get stuck there.
Prior evidence from the public health literature suggests that both control beliefs and perceived threats to life are important for health behaviour. Our previously presented theoretical model generated the more specific hypothesis that uncontrollable, but not controllable, personal mortality risk should alter the payoff from investment in health protection behaviours. We carried out three experiments to test whether altering the perceived controllability of mortality risk would affect a health-related decision. Experiment 1 demonstrated that a mortality prime could be used to alter a health-related decision: the choice between a healthier food reward (fruit) and an unhealthy alternative (chocolate). Experiment 2 demonstrated that it is the controllability of the mortality risk being primed that generates the effect, rather than mortality risk per se. Experiment 3 showed that the effect could be seen in a surreptitious experiment that was not explicitly health related. Our results suggest that perceptions about the controllability of mortality risk may be an important factor in people's health-related decisions. Thus, techniques for adjusting perceptions about mortality risk could be important tools for use in health interventions. More importantly, tackling those sources of mortality that people perceive to be uncontrollable could have a dual purpose: making neighbourhoods and workplaces safer would have the primary benefit of reducing uncontrollable mortality risk, which could lead to a secondary benefit from improved health behaviours.
Many police forces operate a policy of high visibility in disordered neighbourhoods with high crime. However, little is known about whether increased police presence influences people's beliefs about a neighbourhood's social environment or their fear of crime. Three experimental studies compared people's perceptions of social capital and fear of crime in disordered and ordered neighbourhoods, either with a police presence or no police presence. In all studies, neighbourhood disorder lowered perceptions of social capital, resulting in a higher fear of crime. Police presence or absence had no significant effect. The pervasive effects of disorder above other environmental cues are discussed.
There are differences between human groups in social behaviours and the attitudes that underlie them, such as trust. However, the psychological mechanisms that produce and reproduce this variation are not well understood. In particular, it is not clear whether assimilation to the social culture of a group requires lengthy socialization within that group, or can be more rapidly and reversibly evoked by exposure to the group's environment and the behaviour of its members. Here, we report the results of a two-part study in two neighbourhoods of a British city, one economically deprived with relatively high crime, and the other affluent and lower in crime. In the first part of the study, we surveyed residents and found that the residents of the deprived neighbourhood had lower levels of social trust and higher levels of paranoia than the residents of the affluent neighbourhood. In the second part, we experimentally transported student volunteers who resided in neither neighbourhood to one or the other, and had them walk around delivering questionnaires to houses. We surveyed their trust and paranoia, and found significant differences according to which neighbourhood they had been sent to. The differences in the visitors mirrored the differences seen in the residents, with visitors to the deprived neighbourhood reporting lower social trust and higher paranoia than visitors to the affluent one. The magnitudes of the neighbourhood differences in the visitors, who only spent up to 45 min in the locations, were nearly as great as the magnitudes of those amongst the residents. We discuss the relevance of our findings to differential psychology, neighbourhood effects on social outcomes, and models of cultural evolution.
Women experiencing greater childhood adversity exhibit faster reproductive trajectories. One possible psychological mechanism underlying this phenomenon is an increased interest in infants. Interest in infants is thought to be an adaptation important for successful rearing as it motivates the acquisition of caretaking skills. We investigated the relationships between childhood adversity, intended reproductive timing and interest in infants in a sample of English adolescent girls. Specifically we sought to investigate the relationship between 1) childhood adversity and intended reproductive timing; 2) childhood adversity and interest in infants; and 3) intended reproductive timing and interest in infants. Additionally we explored different methods of measuring interest in infants using self-reported fondness for babies, a forced choice adult versus infant paper-based preference task and a novel computer based attention task using adult and infant stimuli. In total 357 girls aged nine to 14 years participated in the study, which took place in schools. Participants completed the two interest in infants tasks before moving on to a childhood adversity questionnaire. Girls with more childhood adversity reported earlier ideal ages at parenthood. We found some evidence that, contrary to our predictions, girls with less childhood adversity were more interested in infants. There was no relationship between intended reproductive timing and interest in infants. The different measurements for interest in infants were only weakly related, if at all, highlighting the complexity of measuring this construct. Our findings suggest that rather than interest in infants being a mechanism for the effect of childhood adversity on early reproductive timing it might instead be an indicator of future reproductive strategies.
Recent evidence has shown that humans are remarkably sensitive to artificial cues of conspecific observation when making decisions with potential social consequences. Whether similar effects are found in other great apes has not yet been investigated. We carried out two experiments in which individual chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, took items of food from an array in the presence of either an image of a large conspecific face or a scrambled control image. In experiment 1 we compared three versions of the face image varying in size and the amount of the face displayed. In experiment 2 we compared a fourth variant of the image with more prominent coloured eyes displayed closer to the focal chimpanzee. The chimpanzees did not look at the face images significantly more than at the control images in either experiment. Although there were trends for some individuals in each experiment to be slower to take high-value food items in the face conditions, these were not consistent or robust. We suggest that the extreme human sensitivity to cues of potential conspecific observation may not be shared with chimpanzees.
Punishment of free-riding has been implicated in the evolution of cooperation in humans, and yet mechanisms for punishment avoidance remain largely uninvestigated. Individual variation in these mechanisms may stem from variation in the serotonergic system, which modulates processing of aversive stimuli. Functional serotonin gene variants have been associated with variation in the processing of aversive stimuli and widely studied as risk factors for psychiatric disorders. We show that variants at the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and serotonin 2A receptor gene (HTR2A) predict contributions to the public good in economic games, dependent upon whether contribution behavior can be punished. Participants with a variant at the serotonin transporter gene contribute more, leading to group-level differences in cooperation, but this effect dissipates in the presence of punishment. When contribution behavior can be punished, those with a variant at the serotonin 2A receptor gene contribute more than those without it. This variant also predicts a more stressful experience of the games. The diversity of institutions (including norms) that govern cooperation and punishment may create selective pressures for punishment avoidance that change rapidly across time and space. Variant-specific epigenetic regulation of these genes, as well as population-level variation in the frequencies of these variants, may facilitate adaptation to local norms of cooperation and punishment.
Pair formation, acquiring a mate to form a reproductive unit, is a complex process. Mating preferences are a step in this process. However, due to constraining factors such as availability of mates, rival competition, and mutual mate choice, preferred characteristics may not be realised in the actual partner. People value height in their partner and we investigated to what extent preferences for height are realised in actual couples. We used data from the Millennium Cohort Study (UK) and compared the distribution of height difference in actual couples to simulations of random mating to test how established mate preferences map on to actual mating patterns. In line with mate preferences, we found evidence for: (i) assortative mating (r?=?.18), (ii) the male-taller norm, and, for the first time, (iii) for the male-not-too-tall norm. Couples where the male partner was shorter, or over 25 cm taller than the female partner, occurred at lower frequency in actual couples than expected by chance, but the magnitude of these effects was modest. We also investigated another preference rule, namely that short women (and tall men) prefer large height differences with their partner, whereas tall women (and short men) prefer small height differences. These patterns were also observed in our population, although the strengths of these associations were weaker than previously reported strength of preferences. We conclude that while preferences for partner height generally translate into actual pairing, they do so only modestly.
Early-life adversity is associated with poorer health and survival in adulthood in humans and other animals. One pathway by which early-life environmental stressors could affect the adult phenotype is via effects on telomere dynamics. Several studies have shown that early-life adversity is associated with relatively short telomeres, but these are often cross-sectional and usually correlational in design. Here, we present a novel experimental system for studying the relationship between early-life adversity and telomere dynamics using a wild bird, the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris). We used cross-fostering to experimentally assign sibling chicks to either small or large broods for twelve days of the growth period. We measured telomere length in red blood cells using quantitative PCR near the beginning of the experimental manipulation (4 days old), at the end of the experimental manipulation (15 days old), and once the birds were independent (55 days old). Being in a larger brood slowed growth and retarded wing development and the timing of fledging. We found no evidence that overall brood size affected telomere dynamics. However, the greater the number of competitors above the focal bird in the within-brood size hierarchy, the greater was the telomere loss during the period of the experimental manipulation. The number of competitors below the focal in the hierarchy had no effect. The effect of heavier competitors was still evident when we controlled for the weight of the focal bird at the end of the manipulation, suggesting it was not due to retarded growth per se. Moreover, the impact of early competition on telomeres was still evident at independence, suggesting persistence beyond early life. Our study provides experimental support for the hypothesis that social stress, in this case induced by the presence of a greater number of dominant competitors, accelerates the rate of telomere loss.
Displaying images of eyes causes people to behave more pro-socially in a variety of contexts. However, it is unclear whether eyes work by making people universally more pro-social, or by making them more likely to conform to local norms. If the latter, images of eyes could sometimes make people less pro-social if pro-social behaviour is not the local norm. To separate these hypotheses we conducted a field experiment in which we explored whether manipulating a local descriptive norm altered the eyes effect. We recorded litter dropping decisions on a university campus in a 2 x 2 design, comparing situations with and without litter already on the ground (a manipulation of the local descriptive norm) and with and without large signs displaying images of watching eyes. We additionally recorded the number of potential human observers in the vicinity at the time of each littering decision. We observed a norm effect: the presence of litter on the ground increased littering, replicating previous findings. We also found that images of watching eyes reduced littering, although contrary to previous findings this was only when there were larger numbers of people around. With regard to our central aim, we found no evidence that litter on the ground interacted non-additively with images of eyes to induce increased littering behaviour. Our data therefore support the hypothesis that images of eyes induce more pro-social behaviour, independent of local norms. This finding has positive implications for the application of eye images in combating anti-social behaviour.
Many studies in humans have shown that adverse experience in early life is associated with accelerated reproductive timing, and there is comparative evidence for similar effects in other animals. There are two different classes of adaptive explanation for associations between early-life adversity and accelerated reproduction, both based on the idea of predictive adaptive responses (PARs). According to external PAR hypotheses, early-life adversity provides a weather forecast of the environmental conditions into which the individual will mature, and it is adaptive for the individual to develop an appropriate phenotype for this anticipated environment. In internal PAR hypotheses, early-life adversity has a lasting negative impact on the individuals somatic state, such that her health is likely to fail more rapidly as she gets older, and there is an advantage to adjusting her reproductive schedule accordingly. We use a model of fluctuating environments to derive evolveability conditions for acceleration of reproductive timing in response to early-life adversity in a long-lived organism. For acceleration to evolve via the external PAR process, early-life cues must have a high degree of validity and the level of annual autocorrelation in the individuals environment must be almost perfect. For acceleration to evolve via the internal PAR process requires that early-life experience must determine a significant fraction of the variance in survival prospects in adulthood. The two processes are not mutually exclusive, and mechanisms for calibrating reproductive timing on the basis of early experience could evolve through a combination of the predictive value of early-life adversity for the later environment and its negative impact on somatic state.
Upon continued submersion in water, the glabrous skin on human hands and feet forms wrinkles. The formation of these wrinkles is known to be an active process, controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Such an active control suggests that these wrinkles may have an important function, but this function has not been clear. In this study, we show that submerged objects are handled more quickly with wrinkled fingers than with unwrinkled fingers, whereas wrinkles make no difference to manipulating dry objects. These findings support the hypothesis that water-induced finger wrinkles improve handling submerged objects and suggest that they may be an adaptation for handling objects in wet conditions.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, with huge attendant suffering. Current treatments are not universally effective, suggesting that a deeper understanding of the causes of anxiety is needed. To understand anxiety disorders better, it is first necessary to understand the normal anxiety response. This entails considering its evolutionary function as well as the mechanisms underlying it. We argue that the function of the human anxiety response, and homologues in other species, is to prepare the individual to detect and deal with threats. We use a signal detection framework to show that the threshold for expressing the anxiety response ought to vary with the probability of threats occurring, and the individuals vulnerability to them if they do occur. These predictions are consistent with major patterns in the epidemiology of anxiety. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.
Human cooperative behaviour, as assayed by decisions in experimental economic dilemmas such as the Dictator Game, is variable across human populations. Within-population variation has been less well studied, especially within industrial societies. Moreover, little is known about the extent to which community-level variation in Dictator Game behaviour relates to community-level variation in real-world social behaviour. We chose two neighbourhoods of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne that were similar in most regards, but at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of level of socioeconomic deprivation. We administered Dictator Games to randomly-selected residents, and also gathered a large number of more naturalistic measures of cooperativeness. There were dramatic differences in Dictator Game behaviour between the two neighbourhoods, with the mean allocation to the other player close to half the stake in the affluent neighbourhood, and close to one tenth of the stake in the deprived neighbourhood. Moreover, the deprived neighbourhood was also characterised by lower self-reported social capital, higher frequencies of crime and antisocial behaviour, a higher frequency of littering, and less willingness to take part in a survey or return a lost letter. On the other hand, there were no differences between the neighbourhoods in terms of the probability of helping a person who dropped an object, needed directions to a hospital, or needed to make change for a coin, and people on the streets were less likely to be alone in the deprived neighbourhood than the affluent one. We conclude that there can be dramatic local differences in cooperative behaviour within the same city, and that these need further theoretical explanation.
Geoffrey Miller has hypothesized that producing artwork functions as a mating display. Here we investigate the relationship between mating success and artistic success in a sample of 236 visual artists. Initially, we derived a measure of artistic success that covered a broad range of artistic behaviors and beliefs. As predicted by Millers evolutionary theory, more successful male artists had more sexual partners than less successful artists but this did not hold for female artists. Also, male artists with greater artistic success had a mating strategy based on longer term relationships. Overall the results provide partial support for the sexual selection hypothesis for the function of visual art.
More than 30% of all pregnancies in the UK require some form of assistance at delivery, with one of the more severe forms of assistance being an emergency Caesarean section (ECS). Previously it has been shown that the likelihood of a delivery via ECS is positively associated with the birth weight and size of the newborn and negatively with maternal height. Paternal height affects skeletal growth and mass of the fetus, and thus might also affect pregnancy outcomes. We hypothesized that the effect of newborn birth weight on the risk of ECS would decrease with increasing maternal height. Similarly, we predicted that there would be an increase in ECS risk as a function of paternal height, but that this effect would be relative to maternal height (i.e., parental height differences). We used data from the Millennium Cohort Study: a large-scale survey (N?=?18,819 births) with data on babies born and their parents from the United Kingdom surveyed 9 to 12-months after birth. We found that in primiparous women, both maternal height and parental height differences interacted with birth weight and predicted the likelihood of an ECS. When carrying a heavy newborn, the risk of ECS was more than doubled for short women (46.3%) compared to tall women (21.7%), in agreement with earlier findings. For women of average height carrying a heavy newborn while having a relatively short compared to tall partner reduced the risk by 6.7%. In conclusion, the size of the baby, the height of the mother and parental height differences affect the likelihood of an ECS in primiparous women.
There are socioeconomic disparities in the likelihood of adopting unhealthy behaviours, and success at giving them up. This may be in part because people living in deprived areas are exposed to greater rates of unhealthy behaviour amongst those living around them. Conventional self-report surveys do not capture these differences in exposure, and more ethological methods are required in order to do so.
From an ultimate perspective, the age of onset of female reproduction should be sensitive to variation in mortality rates, and variation in the productivity of non-reproductive activities. In accordance with this prediction, most of the cross-national variation in womens age at first birth can be explained by differences in female life expectancies and incomes. The within-country variation in England shows a similar pattern: women have children younger in neighbourhoods where the expectation of healthy life is shorter and incomes are lower. I consider the proximate mechanisms likely to be involved in producing locally appropriate reproductive decisions. There is evidence suggesting that developmental induction, social learning and contextual evocation may all play a role.
The concept of personality has recently begun to attract a great deal of interest in behavioural ecology. However, there is also a large and mature literature on personality within human psychology. These two bodies of work have developed independently and at present make rather little reference to one another. The current paper has two main objectives. First, we seek to acquaint behavioural ecologists with the principal ideas and issues found in the human personality psychology literature. Second, we explore how ideas from the behavioural ecology literature might help advance research in human personality psychology. We suggest strong potential for convergence between the two literatures in the near future. Common themes of this future unified science of personality include the conception of personality traits as reaction norms, a commitment to the importance of direct measurement of behaviour, investigation of both proximate and ultimate explanations for personality variation, and a concern with the impact of personality variation on survival and reproductive success.
There is growing evidence that the reproductive schedules of female mammals can be affected by conditions experienced during early development, with low parental investment leading to accelerated life-history strategies in the offspring. In humans, the relationships between early-life conditions and timing of puberty are well studied, but much less attention has been paid to reproductive behaviour. Here, we investigate associations between early-life conditions and age at first pregnancy (AFP) in a large, longitudinally studied cohort of British women (n = 4553). Low birthweight for gestational age, short duration of breastfeeding, separation from mother in childhood, frequent family residential moves and lack of paternal involvement are all independently associated with earlier first pregnancy. Apart from that of birthweight, the effects are robust to adjustment for family socioeconomic position (SEP) and the cohort members mothers age at her birth. The association between childhood SEP and AFP is partially mediated by early-life conditions, and the association between early-life conditions and AFP is partially mediated by emotional and behavioural problems in childhood. The overall relationship between early-life adversities and AFP appears to be approximately additive.
There is striking social variation in the timing of the onset of childbearing in contemporary England, with the mean age at first motherhood about 8 years earlier in the most deprived compared to the least deprived neighbourhoods. However, relatively little is known about how these social differences in reproductive schedule develop in childhood.
Within affluent populations, there are marked socioeconomic gradients in health behavior, with people of lower socioeconomic position smoking more, exercising less, having poorer diets, complying less well with therapy, using medical services less, ignoring health and safety advice more, and being less health-conscious overall, than their more affluent peers. Whilst the proximate mechanisms underlying these behavioral differences have been investigated, the ultimate causes have not.
There is considerable debate as to whether human females bias the sex ratio of their offspring as a function of their own condition. We apply the Trivers-Willard prediction-that mothers in poor condition will overproduce daughters-to a novel measure of condition, namely wife rank within a polygynous marriage. Using a large-scale sample of over 95 000 Rwandan mothers, we show that lower-ranking polygynous wives do indeed have significantly more daughters than higher-ranking polygynous wives and monogamously married women. This effect remains when controlling for potential confounds such as maternal age. We discuss these results in reference to previous work on sex-ratio adjustment in humans.
It has been suggested that low mood in humans is an adaptive response to unfavourable circumstances, and that the anhedonia, pessimism and fatigue that often accompany it function to minimise risk until circumstances improve. While this is plausible, it would be possible to make the opposite prediction equally plausibly: individuals in bad circumstances should take greater risks in order to improve their situations. Here, I present a simple analytical model adapted from the risk-sensitive foraging literature. It shows that in dire states, individuals should be risk-prone, in poor states, risk-averse, and in good states, risk-prone again. I discuss how the various kinds of mood state observed in humans might be understood as mechanisms for adaptively adjusting behavioural risk-taking to the current situation.
Time perspective describes how individuals conceptualize and value future events, and may be related to health behaviours. Research to date has focused on addictive behaviours, used a variety of different measures of time perspective, and not explored the role of personality. This work aimed to: explore the relationships between: five previously used measures of time perspective; time perspective and the broad domains of the five-factor model of personality; and time perspective and smoking, body mass, and physical activity after controlling for socio-demographics and personality.
Human societies are remarkably variable in terms of their size, complexity, social structure, marriage systems and norms. This diversity has sometimes been raised as an obstacle to taking an evolutionary approach to human behaviour. However, a substantial proportion of the variation between human societies might represent local adaptation to ecological conditions and would thus be very much amenable to evolutionary explanation. I review recent studies correlating inter-population differences in humans with ecological factors, specifically pathogen prevalence. Many questions remain unanswered, such as whether we correctly understand the causal pathways and what the mechanisms producing local adaptation are, but the strength of correlations between social and ecological parameters is striking.
Evolutionary theory suggests that maternal grandparents will invest more in their grandchildren than paternal grandparents, due to the difference between the certainty of maternity and the uncertainty of paternity. Most tests of this prediction have tended to use retrospective ratings by grandchildren rather than examining grandparental behaviour. Using a large-scale data set from the UK (n>7000), significant differences are shown between maternal and paternal grandparents in terms of frequencies of contact with their newborn grandchildren, while controlling for a wide range of other variables. Maternal grandparents also provided a significantly wider range of financial benefits than paternal grandparents. Maternal grandparents were also more likely to provide essentials and gifts and extras for the baby. Multiple correspondence analysis showed that contact frequencies systematically related to other measures of grandparental investment, indicating that contact frequencies are a useful proxy measure to examine overall investment. Findings are discussed with reference to the paternity uncertainty hypothesis.
Polygynous marriage is generally more beneficial for men than it is for women, although women may choose to marry an already-married man if he is the best alternative available. We use the theory of biological markets to predict that the likelihood of a man marrying polygynously will be a function of the level of resources that he has, the local sex ratio, and the resources that other men in the local population have. Using records of more than 1 million men in 56 districts from the 2002 Ugandan census, we show that polygynously married men are more likely to own land than monogamously married men, that polygynous marriages become more common as the district sex ratio becomes more female biased, that owning land is particularly important when men are abundant in the district, and that a mans owning land most increases the odds of polygyny in districts where few other men own land. Results are discussed with reference to models of the evolution of polygyny.
Bicycle theft is a serious problem in many countries, and there is a lack of evidence concerning effective prevention strategies. Displaying images of watching eyes has been shown to make people behave in more socially desirable ways in a number of settings, but it is not yet clear if this effect can be exploited for purposes of crime prevention. We report the results of a simple intervention on a university campus where signs featuring watching eyes and a related verbal message were displayed above bicycle racks.
Within affluent societies, people who grow up in deprived areas begin reproduction much earlier than their affluent peers, and they display a number of other behaviors adapted to an environment in which life will be short. The psychological mechanisms regulating life-history strategies may be sensitive to the age profile of the people encountered during everyday activities. We hypothesized that this age profile might differ between environments of different socioeconomic composition. We tested this hypothesis with a simple observational study comparing the estimated age distribution of people using the streets in an affluent and a socioeconomically deprived neighborhood which were closely matched in other ways. We were also able to use the UK census to compare the age profile of observed street users with the actual age profile of the community. We found that people over 60 years of age were strikingly less often observed on the street in the deprived than in the affluent neighborhood, whereas young adults were observed more often. These differences were not reflections of the different age profiles of people who lived there, but rather of differences in which residents use the streets. The way people use the streets varies with age in different ways in the affluent and the deprived neighborhoods. We argue that chronic exposure to a world where there are many visible young adults and few visible old ones may activate psychological mechanisms that produce fast life-history strategies.
The term mood in its scientific usage refers to relatively enduring affective states that arise when negative or positive experience in one context or time period alters the individuals threshold for responding to potentially negative or positive events in subsequent contexts or time periods. The capacity for mood appears to be phylogenetically widespread and the mechanisms underlying it are highly conserved in diverse animals, suggesting it has an important adaptive function. In this review, we discuss how moods can be classified across species, and what the selective advantages of the capacity for mood are. Core moods can be localised within a two-dimensional continuous space, where one axis represents sensitivity to punishment or threat, and the other, sensitivity to reward. Depressed mood and anxious mood represent two different quadrants of this space. The adaptive function of mood is to integrate information about the recent state of the environment and current physical condition of the organism to fine-tune its decisions about the allocation of behavioural effort. Many empirical observations from both humans and non-human animals are consistent with this model. We discuss the implications of this adaptive approach to mood systems for mood disorders in humans.
The complexity of different components of the grammars of human languages can be quantified. For example, languages vary greatly in the size of their phonological inventories, and in the degree to which they make use of inflectional morphology. Recent studies have shown that there are relationships between these types of grammatical complexity and the number of speakers a language has. Languages spoken by large populations have been found to have larger phonological inventories, but simpler morphology, than languages spoken by small populations. The results require further investigation, and, most importantly, the mechanism whereby the social context of learning and use affects the grammatical evolution of a language needs elucidation.
Adaptive responses to predation are generally studied assuming only one predator type exists, but most prey species are depredated by multiple types. When multiple types occur, the optimal antipredator response level may be determined solely by the probability of attack by the relevant predator: "specific responsiveness." Conversely, an increase in the probability of attack by one predator type might increase responsiveness to an alternative predator type: "general wariness." We formulate a mathematical model in which a prey animal perceives a cue providing information on the probability of two predator types being present. It can perform one of two evasive behaviors that vary in their suitability as a response to the "wrong" predator type. We show that general wariness is optimal when incorrect behavioral decisions have differential fitness costs. Counterintuitively, difficulty in discriminating between predator types does not favor general wariness. We predict that where responses to predator types are mutually exclusive (e.g., referential alarm-calling), specific responsiveness will occur; we suggest that prey generalize their defensive responses based on cue similarity due to an assumption of response utility; and we predict, with relevance to conservation, that habituation to human disturbance should generalize only to predators that elicit the same antipredator response as humans.
Four of the articles published in this special section of Developmental Psychology build on and refine psychosocial acceleration theory. In this short commentary, we discuss some of the adaptive assumptions of psychosocial acceleration theory that have not received much attention. Psychosocial acceleration theory relies on the behavior of caregivers being a reliable cue of broader ecological conditions and on those ecological conditions being somewhat stable over the individuals lifetime. There is a scope for empirical and theoretical work investigating the range of environments over which these assumptions hold, to understand more deeply why it is that early life family environment exerts such reliable effects on later life-history strategy.
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We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.