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2020 SPSP New Orleans Convention

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	Evolutionary Psychology
Location: Room TBD  |  8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

The 18th Annual Evolutionary Psychology Preconference provides a forum for discussing research examining how recurrent social, physical, and other challenges over evolutionary history shaped human psychology and behavior. The preconference will host several invited speakers, and will accept abstract submissions for data blitz talks and poster presentations.


8:00 - 8:30 AM
  
Check-in and Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 8:40 AM
  
Opening Remarks
8:40 - 9:20 AM
  
Paul Bloom, Yale University
9:20 - 10:00 AM
  
Regina Lapate, UC-Berkeley
10:00 - 10:10 AM
  
Quick Morning Coffee Break
10:10 - 10:50 AM
  
Iris Holzleitner, University of Glasgow
10:50 - 11:00 AM
  
Coffee Break and Poster Set-Up
11:00 - 12:15 PM
  
Poster Session (Location: Strand Foyer)
12:00 - 1:00 PM
  
Buffet Lunch
12:00 - 1:00 PM
  
NEW! Informal Break-Out Session on Marketing Yourself as an Evolutionary Social Psychologist (featuring Steve Neuberg, Arizona State University and Rebecca Neel, University of Toronto)
1:00 - 1:05 PM
  
Returning Remarks
1:05 - 1:45 PM
  
Alex Shaw, University of Chicago
1:45 - 2:45 PM
  
Data Blitzes
2:45 - 3:00 PM
  
Afternoon Coffee Break
3:00 - 3:40 PM
  
Sam Mehr, Harvard University
3:40 - 4:20 PM
  
Michael Bang Petersen, Aarhus University
4:20 - 4:30 PM
  
Closing Remarks


Paul Bloom headshotPaul Bloom
Yale University
Perverse Desires - Many psychologists and philosophers believe that people and other animals naturally seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Evolutionary psychologists have long been particularly attracted to this position; we tend to follow the approach of George Romanes, who wrote, in 1884, that pleasure and pain can be understood as "the subjective accompaniment of processes which are respectively beneficial or injurious to the organism, and so evolved [so] that the organism should seek the one and shun the other." But what about the exceptions, such as our appetites for spicy foods, hot baths, horror movies, sad songs, and BDSM? Chosen suffering shows up in pursuits such as art, ritual, sex, and sports, and in longer-term projects such as training for a marathon or signing up to go to war. Why do we so often seem to shun pleasure and seek out pain? Such puzzling choices are often seen as glitches in the system, costly signals, or unnatural cultural practices. This talk explores an alternative. Drawing on research from developmental psychology, social psychology, anthropology, and behavioral economics, I suggest that we have evolved to be driven by non-hedonistic goals; we revel in difficult practice, we aspire towards moral goodness, and we seek out meaningful lives.
Michael Bang Petersen headshotMichael Bang Petersen
Aarhus University
A "Need for Chaos" and Motivations to Share Hostile Political Rumors - Why are some people motivated to share hostile political rumors, such as conspiracy theories and other derogative news stories? In this talk, I utilize evolutionary insights on the psychology of status-seeking to argue that extremely disruptive psychological motivations are at the root. Specifically, I developed the prediction that individuals who feel socially and politically marginalized are motivated to circulate hostile rumors because they wish to "burn down'' the entire established political order in the hope that they can gain status in the process. Together with colleagues, I conducted 8 studies in Denmark and the United States (N = 9558) to show that some individuals are predisposed to have a "Need for Chaos" when facing social isolation and discontent, and that this need is the strongest predictor of explicit motivations to share hostile political rumors, even when these rumors are not believed by the sharer. Panel and experimental data show that chaotic motivations reflect stable traits that are primed by the environment and, consistent with the rising inequality across advanced democracies, we find that these motivations are strikingly widespread. To stem the tide of hostile political rumors on social media, the present findings suggest that real-world policy solutions are needed that address the growing social and political frustrations of democratic populations.
Regina Lapate headshotRegina Lapate
University of California, Berkeley
On the function of conscious awareness in emotion - We are frequently exposed to more information than reaches conscious awareness. As social creatures, this often includes fleeting non-verbal cues with emotional information, such as facial expressions that emerge during our interactions with others. Given the adaptive value of responding to those cues, it is unsurprising they are easily processed, and can engender neural, peripheral-physiological, and behavioral responses regardless of our being subjectively aware of them. But then what, if any, is the function of conscious awareness in emotion? In this talk, I will present data from visual awareness manipulation studies suggesting that conscious awareness facilitates the regulation of unwarranted "spillover" (misattribution) of emotional responses to unrelated social stimuli. Neurally, this regulatory benefit of conscious awareness is associated with enhanced function of the last region to develop (ontogenetically and phylogenetically) in the frontal lobe, the mid-lateral prefrontal cortex (mid-LPFC). Causal manipulations of mid-LPFC function suggest a key role for this region in both promoting certain kinds of metacognitive awareness, and in preventing the spillover of affect to unrelated stimuli. In closing, I will discuss current challenges and promising avenues for future work on the intersection of emotion and consciousness.
Alex Shaw headshotAlex Shaw
University of Chicago
Balancing alliances and fairness: The delicate ballet - Fairness concerns often guide the way both children and adults think others should share; people like when others are rewarded equally for doing equal work. In my talk I will explore why people might be concerned with fairness. I begin by attempting to rule out that fairness is merely a byproduct of envy and generosity. Specifically, I demonstrate that children (and also adults) care about fairness concerns even when envy is unlikely to be a motivator and when being fair conflicts with generosity: I show that children and adults will waste resources to uphold fairness. I then explore some reasons why children and adults might be fair, and present experiments that suggest part of the motivation behind children's fair behavior is a desire to socially signal they are fair. Next, I present work suggesting that the desire to appear fair is specifically about avoiding the appearance of partiality: child and adult distributors will gladly pay others unequally for equal work as long as doing so does not require being or appearing partial. Based on this work, I argue that fairness concerns function to help agents avoid being judged for being partial. But of course, building alliances is important and so I close with work demonstrating the difficulty people sometimes experience in balancing fairness and alliances.
Iris Holzleitner headshotIris Holzleitner
University of Glasgow
Human kin recognition: Recent findings and methodological advances - Kinship is central to biological theories of social behaviour. Across species, kinship affects both pro-social as well as sexual attitudes. Kin-biased behaviour requires mechanism to recognise kin, but relatively little is known on kin recognition in humans. I will present some recent work from our lab (1) showing that facial appearance, which can function as a cue to genetic similarity, affects third-party kin recognition via shape and colour cues; (2) developing data-driven models of facial resemblance among siblings to predict perceived and actual kinship based on face shape; (3) using data-driven models of family relatedness to create more ecologically valid stimuli that can be used in experimental studies on kinship.
Sam Mehr headshotSam Mehr
Harvard University
A natural history of song - What is universal about music across human societies, and what varies? We built a corpus of ethnographic text on musical behavior from a representative sample of the world's societies and a discography of audio recordings of the music itself. The ethnographic corpus reveals that music appears in every society observed; that variation in musical behavior is well-characterized by three dimensions, which capture the formality, arousal, and religiosity of song events; that musical behavior varies more within societies than across societies on these dimensions; and that music is regularly associated with behavioral contexts such as infant care, healing, dance, and love. The discography, explored through four representations (machine summaries, listener ratings, expert annotations, expert transcriptions), revealed that identifiable acoustic features of songs predict their primary behavioral context worldwide; that musical forms vary along two dimensions, melodic and rhythmic complexity; that the frequency distributions of melodic and rhythmic bigrams follow power laws; and that tonality is widespread, perhaps universal across cultures. These analyses show how applying the tools of computational social science to rich bodies of humanistic data can reveal both universal features and patterns of variability in culture, addressing longstanding debates about each.


Jaimie Krems
Oklahoma State University

Michael Barlev
Arizona State University


2020 Annual Convention
February 27-29, 2020
New Orleans, LA USA