Evolution, Mind, and Behavior Conference at UCSB

Fall Quarter 2008


Joint UCLA-UCSB Conferences held quarterly by
UCSB’s Evolution, Mind, and Behavior Program (EMB) and
UCLA’s Human Nature and Society Program (BEC)

Saturday 8 November 2008

In the Flying A Studio, University Center, UCSB (UCEN)
(see directions below)


10:00 AM
Breakfast buffet opens
10:30 AM
First Talk: Brad Duchaine, Ph.D. Selective developmental disorders as an approch to evolved psychological mechanisms
12:00 PM
Lunch (UCEN, no host)
1:30 PM
Second Talk: Eric Schniter Culture Ontogeny: the Development of Essential Skills and Abilities Across the Lifespan
2:15 PM
Third Talk: Tom Flamson Humor, Social Networks and Interpersonal Evaluations in Rural Brazil
3:00 PM
Coffee break
3:30 PM
Fourth Talk: Brandy Burkett Being replaced: Friendship, jealousy and the banker's paradox
4:15 PM
Fifth Talk: Karthik Panchanathan & Willem Frankenhuis Quantifying the Bystander Effect
5:00 PM
Adjourn for no-host dinner, Ming Dynasty (see below)


Brad Duchaine, Ph.D.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience,
University College London


Selective developmental disorders as an approch to evolved psychological mechanisms
Hundreds of selective deficits acquired through brain damage have been described, but only a handful of selective developmental deficits have been described.  Developmental prosopagnosia is one of these developmental deficits, and I will present an overview of research examining the cognitive, neural, and genetic basis of this socially troubling disorder.  I will also discuss two previously unreported conditions--one that affects within-class object recognition while sparing face recognition and another that selectively impairs identity recognition via voices.  Because these three deficits seem easier to detect than many neuropsychological deficits, their invisibility until recently suggests that many selective developmental deficits remain undetected.

Eric Schniter
Doctoral Candidate: Anthropology, UCSB

Culture Ontogeny: the Development of Essential Skills and Abilities Across the Lifespan
Humans, relative to other mammals, have a uniquely slow life-history, characterized by a long period of juvenility, peak productivity in mid adulthood, and extended post-reproductive survival.  Tradeoffs between extended juvenile development and the timing of adult contributions are crucial for understanding human life history evolution, however relatively little is known about the timing and duration of skills developed in small-scale societies. Here I explore the ontogeny of skills and abilities among Tsimane’, a forager-horticulturalist group in the Bolivian Amazon. Among the Tsimane’, the skills and abilities essential for survival and reproduction are composed of cumulative subcomponents that are often developed in succession. Cultural skills are mastered after the end of a long adolescence and the subsequent cultivation of expertise takes even longer. Expertise is scheduled according to the cognitive and physical demands of skills. Adults specialize in skill niches according to investments that they can make at different ages. Even as physical strength declines, adults continue to cultivate difficult skills, especially those not requiring strength. For example, skills in the oral and musical tradition take the longest to develop and are important because they encode information about survival and production. The payoffs of early life learning among foragers are realized later in life, but such an investment is only worthwhile given the long lifespan, health improvements, and important contributions to younger kin made by older adults in the context of a kin-based society with relatively stable traditions.

Thomas Flamson
Doctoral Candidate: Anthropology, UCLA

Humor, Social Networks and Interpersonal Evaluations in Rural Brazil
The Encryption Theory of humor proposes that the structure of humorous production provides a channel for the honest signaling of personal features, which is proposed to have evolved to aid within-group assortment for long-term interaction partners such as friends or mates. Drawing on ethnographic observations, quantitative studies and in-depth interviews conducted on a collective farm in rural Brazil, this talk will present results exploring the relationship between the interpersonal evaluations of humor ability, other individual differences (such as friendliness, trustworthiness, and public respect), and the formation and maintenance of social networks. These results suggest that evaluations of humor are well-correlated with the structure and distribution of social relationships, demonstrating the relationship between humor and within-group assortment predicted by Encryption Theory, and casting doubt on theories of humor production which claim it indexes an absolute difference in cognitive abilities.

Brandy Burkett
Doctoral Candidate: Psychology, UCSB

Being replaced: Friendship, jealousy and the banker's paradox
According to the Banker’s paradox model, friendships are deep-engagement relationships that were critical for navigating and surviving in our ancestral past.  The threat of another person encroaching on this relationship signifies the potential for investment received from a friend to be diverted elsewhere, leading to feelings of being replaced.  Participants were asked to write about a time when they were jealous of a relationship their same-sex best friend had with another same same-sex person as well as when their best friend had a romantic partner. Participants reported feeling replaced by the third party significantly more when the interloper was of the same-sex as the participant than when the interloper was their friend’s romantic partner.  Conversely, participants reported feeling that their friend spent less time (loss of time) with them when the interloper was a romantic partner than when the interloper was a same-sex individual.  In addition, the relationship between loss of time and jealousy was fully mediated by feeling replaced by the interloper. This was the case for both same sex interloper and when the interloper was the best friend’s romantic partner (although to a lesser degree). These data suggest that in deep engagement relationships, events that indicate one is being replaced are the specific trigger for the emotional response of jealousy.

Karthik Panchanathan
Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture
UCLA Department of Anthropology


Willem Frankenhuis
Doctoral Candidate: Anthropology, UCLA

Quantifying the Bystander Effect

Behavioral economics studies have shown people to have other-regarding social preferences. In the Dictator Game, for example, people will transfer some portion of their endowment to another person without an endowment. If people were self-interested, those assigned the role of dictator would keep all of their endowment, and those assigned to be recipients would go home with nothing. In social psychology, scores of studies document the Bystander Effect, in which the likelihood a victim is helped declines as the number of potential helpers increases. To reconcile pro-social preferences with the Bystander Effect, psychologists propose the notion of diffusion of
responsibility: while people want to see the victim helped, they feel less of a responsibility to help when others are present. Here, we present results from a multi-player dictator game to look for evidence of the diffusion of responsibility in an experimental economics setting.

Additional Information:
Dinner: (Self-funded) Ming Dynasty, 290 Storke Road, Goleta
805-968-1308. Located at the intersection of Storke and Hollister in Goleta. In the unlikely event you are coming from 101, take Storke exit North of UCSB.
Directions: Take 101 North toward Santa Barbara. There is a double exit (Patterson; then 217 UCSB / Airport). Take the 217 UCSB exit. Follow the signs to campus (when road forks, take the left fork).

When you come into UCSB from 217, there is a UCSB gate & kiosk. Stop there to get a campus map. Turn left onto Lagoon Road (ocean on your left), then
right onto UCEN road, and park in one of the lots.

There may be car pools coming from UCLA- contact Bailey House
Parking: UCSB will honor parking stickers issued by UCLA, as long as these are prominently displayed on the lower left side of your windshield. If you do not have a UCLA sticker, please note that parking has changed at UCSB; You cannot park in places marked "Enforced 24 hours." Other spaces are numbered and you need to get a ticket, which can be bought from a machine in the parking lot. The closest lot is #3 (but this has a number of illegal spaces, so be careful). Other close lots are #7, 9, and 4; See UCSB map for lot location. The UCEN is located at coordinate F3.

Sponsors: The UCSB Center for Evolutionary Psychology and the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture. This event is organized as a working seminar for faculty and graduate students. For their generous support of this conference, we thank the UCSB Division of Math, Life, and Physical Sciences, the Division of Social Sciences, and the College of Letters and Sciences. For more information, please contact CEP Lab Manager June Betancourt or call 805-893-8720.

UCLA and UCSB will hold two conferences per year, alternating between the two campuses.