latest news

June 01, 2020

New Publication

Part of a special issue on Life History and Learning, this paper explores the coevolutionary relationship between information gathering (learning), information storage (memory) and a dedicated period of early learning (childhood). It also sets out in detail how "experimental evolutionary simulations" work, as well as what their strengths and limitations are. This work was done in collaboration with Tom Griffiths and Jordan Suchow.

January 21, 2020

New Publication

This paper explores the interaction of developmental plasticity (e.g. learning) and genetic change in the evolution of complex traits. Quite a bit of work has established that plasticity and genetic change can interact, but here we ask what kinds of genetic change we can expect when plasticity is having an influence. Our results have implications for the evolutionary process in general, but particularly for complex learned traits like language. This work was done in collaboration with Tom Griffiths and Jordan Suchow, and is mostly theory, but also includes an "experimental evolutionary simulation" conducted via Dallinger.

December 17, 2019

New Publication

This paper sets out a new vision for how religion can support prosociality in human populations. Current work emphasizes the role of gods as punishers of transgressors, however in this paper we argue that gods can also inspire cooperative behavior through their own generosity. We do this by linking religious figures to human prestige hierarchies and features of the mammalian autonomic nervous system.

June 23, 2019

New Publication

This paper uses a simulation of the scientific process to understand how the adoption of Bayesian updating via "posterior passing" could change how knowledge accumulates. Because this is a relatively unfamiliar topic to many its also written to be a gentle introduction to Bayesian analysis and MCMC more generally. This work was done in collaboration with Charlotte Brand, James Ounsley and Daniel van der Post.

February 05, 2019

New publication

The results of a theoretical analysis exploring the effects of counting individuals or instances in conformist transmission. Most notably we find conditions where the two approaches agree about which behavior is in the majority, but nonetheless lead to different behaviors spreading. This work was done in collaboration with Alberto Acerbi and Edwin van Leeuwen.

July 16, 2018

Book review

Thomas Morgan's review of Kevin Laland's latest book, Darwin's Unfinished Symphony, has now been published in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture. Its a new, interdisciplinary journal that publishes work at the interface of evolutionary science and "imaginative culture"; books, film, art and so on. Kevin Laland was Tom's PhD supervisor so in many ways the book was a nice trip down memory lane.

January 29, 2018

New publication

The results of an experiment testing the domain-specificity of human mate-choice copying have been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The projects was headed up by Sally Street (Durham University), Thomas Morgan (Ecco lab, ASU) and Catharine Cross (St Andrews University). The results argue against the hypothesis that human mate-choice copying is underpinned by a specialized evolutionary mechanism.

April 10, 2017

New preprint

A free to access preprint of an in-progress project lead by Lotty Brand is now available from the OSF. The paper presents simulations that explore the effects of different statistical approaches on the ability of a scientific field to ascertain truth finding that Bayesian posterior passing does very well.

March 16, 2017

Positions available [now filled]

We have openings for 2 postdoctoral researchers for the study of collective identity. The positions have an anticipated start date of Spring 2017 and are renewable up to March 2020. To learn more, click opportunities above, or visit the job ad here.

November 12, 2016

New publication

Headed up by Dr. Kate Cross, this paper presents a deep-dive into the sex difference in conformity concluding that it does not reflect a sex difference in performance but rather a sex difference in confidence. This allows the sex difference in conformity to be affected by culturally inherited expectations, i.e. stereotypes.

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Ecco Lab | Evolution, Culture, Cognition | Arizona State University