April 2 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Safer Science: The Credibility Revolution in Psychological Science

Simine Vazire
University of California, Davis

A fundamental part of the scientific enterprise is for each field to engage in critical self-examination to detect errors in our theories and methods, and improve them. Psychology has recently been undergoing such a self-examination. Psychological scientists arguably tackle one of the hardest phenomena to understand and predict: human behavior. Naturally, our data are noisy and our findings are often tentative. However, we are slowly building knowledge and making our theories more complete. The recent self-analysis has revealed several ways we can further improve our research practices to make our findings more sound. These new norms are gaining steam within psychology and beyond, making science stronger.

April 2, 2018

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April 9 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Life History Trade-Offs in Reproduction and Cancer

Amy Boddy
University of California,Santa Barbara

Life history theory is a powerful approach to study human health and disease. However, there has been little work in applications of life history theory in cancer biology. Here I will discuss how cancer is fundamentally characterized by life history trade-offs, as cancer defense mechanisms are a major component of somatic maintenance. Using a newly curated comparative oncology dataset across a wide range of mammals, birds and reptiles, we show a negative relationship with cancer rates and body mass or lifespan. Additionally, these organismal life history traits reflect the cellular response to DNA damage assays, providing insights into potential mechanisms of cancer defense. Understanding these trade-offs in the context of organismal evolution may help explain variability we see in cancer susceptibility across human populations. Additionally, our dataset demonstrates mammals get higher rates of cancer than other vertebrates. I will discuss the constraints of internal gestation, the process of placentation and and how these reproductive processes may lead to a trade-off with cancer susceptibility.

April 9, 2018

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April 16 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Similarity Drives Reasoning about Affiliation and Social Group

Zoe Liberman
University of California, Santa Barbara

Similarity influences myriad social relationships. From group membership to friendship, to marriage, to mere proximity, people who are similar to one another tend to be closer than people who are dissimilar. Here, I present research indicating that infants understand the importance of homophily in determining social structure: they expect people who are similar to one another to affiliate. I also explore questions about they types of similarity infants use to reason about the social world. I hypothesize that (1) similarities that have marked human social groups across evolutionary history may be attended to earliest , and (2) that different types of similarities will be most relevant for reasoning about different types of relationships (e.g., group members vs. friends vs. family members).

April 16, 2018

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April 23 2018

BEC Seminar Series: The Brain is Social by Default

Matthew Lieberman
University of California, Los Angeles

April 23, 2018

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April 30 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Collective Behavior in a Slave-Making Ant: Coordination and Decision-Making During Raids

Julie Miller
Univeristy of California, Los Angeles

The slave-making ants are social parasites that steal their workers in coordinated raids on other colonies. Their parasitic lifestyle has made these ants a model of host-parasite co-evolution, however their charismatic brood-raiding behavior is virtually unstudied. Here I explore how colonies make collective decisions when selecting a raiding site and how colonies coordinate their attack. Slave-making has independently evolved multiple times in ants, but I focused this study on one species of North American slave-maker, Temnothorax americanus. I staged raids in table-top arenas in the lab to standardize conditions and made detailed observations of individual and colony-level behaviors. I found that the success of group raids depends on the ability of slave-makers to coordinate the timing of two roles: herding and guarding the entrance. Having established that raiding is a coordination problem, I then investigated how the colony selects a raiding site in the first place. I first measured colony preferences using choice experiments, but colonies demonstrated no preference for any size-related host features. This apparent lack of preference led to a separate question: why do colonies disregard fitness-relevant host variation? Theoretical work has offered suggestions about which conditions ought to favor low-choosiness, so I empirically tested whether they are met by T. americanus colonies, specifically testing the hypotheses that slave-makers experience (1) low host encounter rates, (2) high time constrains, or (3) low variability in host quality. To test these hypotheses, observations of lab raids were combined with spatial field data on host distribution and brood phenology. These data support that raiding is constrained by both the brief window of host brood availability, particularly of the highly valuable pupae, combined with low encounter rates of host colonies in the field. Variation in host nest quality was relatively high, and thus unlikely to favor low acceptance thresholds of slave-maker colonies. The implications of these results are that slave-maker colony raiding decisions are selected to maximize the number of raids per season, and not to selectively exploit the few most profitable ones.

April 30, 2018

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May 7 2018

BEC Seminar Series: The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ethno-Linguistic Reasoning

Cristina Moya
University of California, Davis

The evolution and ontogeny of ethno-linguistic reasoning Abstract: While many social species are group living, linguistically or symbolically marked social groups, characterized by large repertoires of shared cultural norms and behaviours, are uniquely human. However, the evolutionary relevance and psychological underpinnings of such ethnic groups remains debated. In this talk, I will examine the possibility that the way humans learn about ethno-linguistic boundaries reveal the structure of adaptations for reasoning about these. I report on psychological and ethnographic research from the Quechua-Aymara border in the Peruvian altiplano, and cross-cultural comparative work that speak to these questions. Results reveal 1) the importance of distinguishing between functionally independent intergroup phenomena such as stereotyping and cooperation, 2) that children are prone to develop believe that linguistic boundaries are important and fixed, and 3) that cultural evolutionary processes are likely more important than genetically evolved biases in determining the form of ethnic boundaries. Further implications for models of human social evolution will be discussed.

May 7, 2018

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May 14 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Stress, Resilience, and Embodiment of Cardiometabolic Risk in Children of Hispanic Immigrants

Amy Non
University of California, San Diego

Hispanic immigrants represent the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority in the US. Thus, an important research focus for the future health of the US is to determine factors that influence the declining health of immigrants with more time lived in the US, and across generations. Much research has focused on the adoption of poorer health behaviors with acculturation, but less attention has focused on the role of psychosocial stress, or resilience factors, experienced by immigrant mothers or their children. Through focus groups and extensive structured interviews with Hispanic immigrant mothers and their children (aged 6-13) in Nashville, TN, we examined a range of psychosocial stress exposures, such as work-family tradeoff and limited freedom/mobility, and resilience factors, such as optimism and social support. I will also discuss results of ongoing quantitative analyses exploring hormonal and epigenetic mechanisms through which these stressors may become biologically embedded to predispose children of Hispanic descent to higher risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

May 14, 2018

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May 21 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Exploration versus Exploitation in Collective Problem Solving

P.J. Lamberson
University of California, Los Angeles

May 21, 2018

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June 4 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Jim Sidanius
Harvard University

June 4, 2018

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