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Understanding the Origins of Social, Attractiveness and Economic Preferences: Lessons from Hunter-Gatherers

Coren Apicella, University of Pennsylvania


Monday, April 11, 2016
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm
Binghamton University

This talk reports the results of three empirical studies on the evolutionary origins of human behavior. Human preferences are usually studied in people in Western contexts (often undergraduate students). However, these well-studied people may not be representative of the wider breadth of contemporary and historic humanity. I explore behavior within an isolated and evolutionarily relevant population of hunter-gatherers living in remote regions of Tanzania—the Hadza. The first study considers the evolution of cooperation and how social structure may have supported cooperation in our ancestors. Second, I show that the endowment effect bias is not a human universal – a result that points to the importance of culture in generating differences in economic behavior. The last study concerns averageness in judgments of attractiveness in faces and suggests that experience is important in shaping standards of beauty.


About the Speaker

Coren Apicella is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of The Penn Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology. She earned her Ph.D in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University and a M.S. in Evolutionary Psychology from the University of Liverpool. Her work has been published in a variety of scientific journals: Nature, Current Biology, Evolution & Human Behavior, American Economic Review and Psychoneuroendocrinology


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Last Updated: 12/4/20