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Evolution and Human Behavior
Evolution and Human BehaviorLessons from evolution on human behavior
Academic year 2016-2017
Period 4 and 5
Number of meetings 10
Dates of all meetings 6, 13, 20, 27 February, 6, 13, 20 March, 3, 10, 24 April 2017
All other meetings in room tba (see number 1091 at this map)
Lecturers • Dr. Joshua Tybur (FPP, Social and Organizational Psychology)
• Dr. Fleur Thomése (FSW, Sociology)
Every species has a “nature,” and humans are no different. But what is human nature, and how can we use the marvelous scientific advances of the past century to better understand human nature? How can human nature help us understand basic parts of life, such as cooperation and conflict, love and sex, and cultural universals and differences?
The course is designed to address these issues. It begins with broad overviews of the theories from evolutionary biology that have revolutionized the study of animal behavior, and it continues by explaining how these theories have been applied to understanding human cognition and culture. Lectures are centered around an edited volume that contains brief chapters , each of which discusses some of the critical issues underlying evolutionary perspectives on human behavior.
Across nine lectures, Dr. Tybur, a social psychologist, and Dr. Thomese, a sociologist, will lead students through these issues. Additionally, guest lecturers with expertise in evolutionary biology, leadership psychology, social networks, and human cooperation and conflict will give guest lectures.
Students will also give group presentations at the end of the last four lectures. In these presentations, students will discuss a modern problem or puzzle in society and explain how evolutionary approaches can be used to generate and test hypotheses for better understanding these problems.
The following themes will be covered in lectures:
1. General Introduction: Evolutionary theory and evolutionary approaches to human behavior.
2. Using current fitness to test evolutionary hypotheses – what can the number of children you have teach us about human nature?
3. Behavior in our closest ancestors – what can primates teach us about human nature?
4. The history of evolutionary approaches to human behavior – evolution and the modularity of mind
5. Cultures evolve too – what can knowledge about human nature tell us about cultural evolution?
6. The evolution of sex and mating, part 1 – how different and similar are men and women, and why?
7. The evolution of sex and mating, part 2 – how can we understand individual differences in sexuality?
8. Weighing costs and benefits, and testing tradeoffs: The example of the evolution of cooperation
9. Modern culture and our ancestral past – what can evolution teach us about contemporary society?
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