Speaker Series

Spring 2021

  • Daniel Nettle
  • 02-01-2021
  • Daniel Nettle
  • Newcastle University
  • Seeing people in poverty as adaptive actors
  • We often see the decisions made by people living in poverty as problems to be fixed, or mistakes to be corrected. An alternative is to take seriously the idea that people in poverty are smart, adaptive individuals doing the best they can under the circumstances. This shifts the question from ‘what is wrong with them?’ to ‘what must be true about the circumstances that they are facing such that this ends up being their best strategy’? This change in perspective causes us to focus more on changing people’s circumstances – a collective and political endeavour – and less on changing or criticising their behaviour or mindset as individuals. I will review examples of this perspective from my own work on early childbearing, health behaviour and obesity. The work lies at the intersection of behavioural ecology and public health, and possibly brings out the jingle and jangle as the assumptions and goals of those different fields collide.

  • Jim Sidanius
  • 03-08-2021
  • Jim Sidanius
  • Harvard University
  • Social Dominance Theory and the Dynamics of Gendered Prejudice
  • Using Social Dominance and evolutionary theory as theoretical frameworks, we argue for a model entitled the Theory of Gendered Prejudice (TGP), which in broad terms, suggests that arbitrary-set discrimination must be understood as an inherently gendered phenomenon. Employing multiple methodologies, I argue that: 1) In general, males will display higher levels of xenophobia, discrimination, social predation, and social dominance orientation than will females, everything else being equal. 2) Males will tend to be both the primary perpetrators, and the primary victims of arbitrary-set discrimination. 3) The motives for outgroup discrimination are somewhat different for males and females.

  • Willem E. Frankenhuis
  • 04-12-2021
  • Willem E. Frankenhuis
  • Utrecth University
  • Hidden talents in harsh conditions
  • It is well established that people living in adverse conditions tend to score lower on tests of social and cognitive functioning. However, recent studies show that people may also develop ‘hidden talents’, mental abilities that are enhanced through adversity. Our research sets out to document these abilities, their development, and their manifestations in different contexts. This talk presents a series of studies of ‘hidden talents’ conducted with socioeconomically diverse samples in the Netherlands and the United States.

    Frankenhuis, W. E., & Nettle, D. (2020). The strengths of people in poverty. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29, 16-21. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721419881154

  • Gretchen Perry
  • 05-03-2021
  • Gretchen Perry
  • University of Canterbury
  • Why is nana a big deal? Evolutionary theory meets practice
  • Some researchers have described human beings as cooperative breeders, with non-parental caregivers playing important roles in child survival and wellbeing. One of the most important categories of non-parental caregivers is grandmothers. In this talk, I will explore theoretical reasons why grandmothers, particularly maternal grandmothers, may have evolved to become especially important alloparents. I will also consider the domains in which they seem to excel, and how we might use this information in practical ways when working with families. This has implications for people working with vulnerable families and children, including those in child protection, fosterage and adoption.