Seminar Series

Understanding the Origins of Social, Economic and Attractiveness Preferences: Data from Hadza foragers

This talk reports the results of studies on the evolutionary origins of human behavior. Human preferences are usually studied in people in industrialized contexts (often undergraduate students). However, these well-studied people may not be representative of the wider breadth of contemporary and historic humanity. I explore behavior within a relatively isolated and evolutionarily relevant population of hunter-gatherers living in regions of Northern Tanzania—the Hadza. The first study considers the evolution of cooperation and how social structure may have supported cooperation in our ancestors. In the second study, I show that the endowment effect bias is not a human universal – a result that points to the importance of local environment in generating differences in economic behavior. The last study concerns averageness in judgments of attractiveness in faces and suggests that experience is important in shaping standards of beauty.