[BERG] BERG talk / March 21st

Paxton Culpepper p.d.culpepper at stir.ac.uk
Mon Mar 19 13:45:46 GMT 2018

Dear BERG peeps,

This week BERG will be hosting two speakers. PhD Candidate Paxton Culpepper will be giving a talk on his research, but we are also hosting a briefly visiting PhD student, Zsófia Csajbók, from University of Charles ,Prague, who wanted a chance to experience the friendly BERG atmosphere while she was in town.

We will hear first from Zsófia. She will be discussing a piece of research her and her colleagues have been conducting, entitled:
A higher 'GPA' or at least a passing grade in all 'subjects'? Passing the exam as a potential mate

Brief blurb:
A potential mate can be assessed along several factors (e.g., warmth, attractiveness, status, intelligence). How do these evaluations determine the overall desirability of a potential partner? Using a school analogy, one could devise at least two strategies: (1) taking some overall evaluation based on the distinct 'grades' (e.g., 'GPA'), or (2) requiring the candidate to achieve at least a 'passing grade' in all 'subjects'. In other words, which potential mates do people like better: those with a higher overall value but scoring low in one dimension, or candidates with mostly mediocre (but never low) scores? We were looking for the answers conducting an experiment using manipulated vignettes. (Rehearsal for the EHBEA Conference.)

After Zsófia's talk, Paxton will be discussing his latest study, entitled: New Religions: Pathogen threat and cultural divergence

There is wide variation between cultures and their underlying belief systems, e.g. their religion. Evidence suggests that religion may function to promote prosocial cooperation among unrelated individuals but this alone cannot explain these variations. Cultures and their associated religions are based on and influenced by the society's values, which are reflected in its social rules. However, pathogen stress may impact values and affect cultural and religious trajectory by influencing the extent to which assortative social or prosocial rules are favoured. We tested this via the thought experiment: 'what if humans could start a new society founded on a newly developed set of basic social rules - on what rules would you build this new society?' Forty participants were asked to build a rule system they think would be most supported by potential citizens of the society. First, they rated either a set of pathogen-salient (PS) or pathogen-free (PF) images and then selected and ranked in importance, 15 rules from a list of 60 social rules (20 prosocial, assortative social, and pathogen-management). Analysis revealed that PS-viewers favoured (proportion and weighting) assortative social rules compared with the PF-viewers, who favoured prosocial rules. Selection of pathogen-management rules showed no group difference but were favoured less than prosocial rules and more than assortative social rules by PF-viewers. This may help explain how prolonged pathogen stress can increase in-group assortative sociality and lead to divergence and variation of cultures and their belief systems.

Since we have two speakers this week, we will be starting the meeting at 5:15pm (apologies if this isn't convenient for some of you). Drinks and munchies provided!

Hope to see everyone there!



Paxton D. Culpepper, BSc, MSc
PhD Candidate | Psychology

Division of Psychology
Behaviour and Evolution Research Group
Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, UK
Office: 3B134 Cottrell Building
Phone: +44 (0) 1786 466852
Fax: +44 (0) 1786 467641
Email: p.d.culpepper at stir.ac.uk<mailto:p.d.culpepper at stir.ac.uk>

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