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University of Oregon


Publication Archive
Technical Reports

Current research activities of selected ICDS members

Bertram Malle
John Orbell
Michelle Scalise Sugiyama
Douglas Kennett

Bertram Malle

Attributions are ordinary people’s explanations of behavior. Bertram Malle recently published a meta-analysis of the well-known attribution hypothesis on an “actor-observer asymmetry,” featured in every textbook of social psychology. Across 173 studies, no evidence was found for the hypothesis. In a companion article, Malle and colleagues showed that actor-observer differences do exist after all, but not when people’s explanations of behavior are traditionally framed as “person vs. situation causes.” Instead, a model that distinguishes between reasons, causes, and several other categories captures much better the way ordinary people explain behavior and reliably predicts actor-observer differences.

Malle, B. F. (2006).
The actor-observer asymmetry in causal attribution: A (surprising) meta-analysis.
Psychological Bulletin, 132, 895-919.
Malle, B. F., Knobe, J., & Nelson, S. (2007).
Actor-observer asymmetries in behavior explanations: New answers to an old question.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 491–514.

Bertram Malle is currently writing a book entitled Social cognitive science. The goal of this book is to synthesize diverse strands of theoretical and empirical work on the “social mind” — the mental capacities and processes that enable humans to be successful social creatures. A synthesizing framework is proposed that constitutes a new multidisciplinary field of social cognitive science. Within this field, the phenomenon of the social mind can be studied in all its facets and complexity, without prior methodological or theoretical commitments, and with contributions from and interactions among such disciplines as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, and anthropology.

Bertram Malle has also recently been awarded a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation, entitled “Is there a hierarchy of social inference? Intentionality, mind, and morality.”

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John Orbell

“An Evolutionary Account of Suicide Attacks: The Kamikaze Case.” 2011, 32; 2, pp. 297-322.
Political Psychology
. With Tomonori Morikawa. A content analysis of Kamikaze letters, poems and wills supports an evolutionary account of suicide attacks by which people are not motivated by religious concern or by concern for saving kin, but by a belief that their death could make a potentially critical change military fortunes of one’s own side, if it is confronting otherwise certain defeat.

With three scholars at Stony Brook (a climatologist, mathematical statistician and political scientist), one other at Oregon (Amy Lobben, Geography) and one now at Penn State (Doug Kennett, Archaeology) Orbell is part of a team funded by a four year grant from NSF working on a global simulation of human responses to forthcoming climate changes.

“The Selective Consequences of War.” Forthcoming. With Holly Arrow, Oleg Smirnov and Douglas Kennett (2007). In Thompson, L. and K. Behfar (Eds.). Conflict in organizational groups: New directions in theory and practice. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press Board.

Misha Myagkov and John Orbell have recently completed an NSF-funded laboratory project addressing risk attitudes and human sociality. It has produced: Tim Johnson, Mikhail G. Myagkov and John Orbell, “Distinctive Preferences Toward Risk in the Substantive Domain of Sociality.” Forthcoming in Political Psychology. The paper suggests that Kahneman and Tversky’s well-known finding about risk aversion in gains and risk tolerance in losses does not generalize to decisions in the substantive domain of “sociality”—entering risky relationships with other humans—where people are biased toward risk tolerance regardless of frame.

With Oleg Smirnov (Political Science, Stony Brook), Institute members Holly Arrow, Psychology, Doug Kennett and John Orbell published “Ancestral War and the Evolutionary Origins of ‘Heroism’” in the Journal of Politics, November, 2007. Two simulations show that a willingness to die for one’s group could have evolved even absent kinship, via the “criticalness” of the individual’s action for preventing the group being destroyed; they also suggest that special-purpose forms of altruism (‘Heroism’ and ‘Communitarianism’) will both evolve to higher levels than a single, general-purpose form of altruism.

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Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

In “Narrative as Social Mapping. Case Study: The Trickster Genre and the Free Rider Problem” (forthcoming in Ometeca), Michelle Scalise Sugiyama argues that narrative is one of the tools humans use to map their social world. Because stories model human actions and reactions, listening to stories increases our knowledge of human behavior and, thus, our ability to predict it. Trickster tales are a case in point, presenting an endless variety of free-rider scenarios. Although we have cognitive adaptations dedicated to the free-rider problem, they only address facets of the problem that recur across time and cultures: they cannot anticipate particular stratagems that free-riders may use. This information must be acquired from experience or from conspecifics, the former of which can be costly. By modeling possible tricks, narrative offers an efficient means of reducing one’s chances of being cheated; by modeling possible punishments, narrative may also serve to discourage would-be free-riders.

Another project, entitled “Anthropomorphized Landscapes: Storytelling as Navigational Tool,” is near completion. Oral traditions of foraging peoples frequently contain stories explaining how a given topographical feature came to be. These features are explained as transformed human agents or as the handiwork of human agents. This raises the question, Why input non-social information as social information? The answer may lie in a novel, fitness-enhancing opportunity that emerged when language evolved: the opportunity to acquire information from others about places one had never visited—information such as where game was abundant, where water could be found, and where enemies were camped. The problem: evidence indicates that humans are designed to navigate and to input navigational information non-verbally. The solution: evidence also suggests that humans are designed to input (at least some) social information verbally (e.g., gossip); thus, by “translating” wayfinding information into social information, humans are able to hijack verbal input systems and share wayfinding information with one another.

Scalise Sugiyama, Michelle (2008)
“Narrative as Social Mapping–Case Study: The Trickster Genre and the Free Rider Problem.” Ometeca XII:24-42.

Scalise Sugiyama, Michelle (2008)
“How an Interest in Fiction Could Have Evolved–A Review of Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction .” Evolution and Human Behavior 29:370-372.

Scalise Sugiyama, Michelle (2006).
“Lions and Tigers and Bears: Predators as a Folklore Universal,” in Anthropology and Social History: Heuristics in the Study of Literature, ed. H. Friedrich, F. Jannidis, U. Klein, K. Mellmann, S. Metzger, and M. Willems, 319-331.

Scalise Sugiyama, Michelle (2006).
“The Nature of Literature: A Review of Madame Bovary’s Ovaries,” Enteleky, vol. 8 (November).

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Douglas Kennett

Douglas Kennett completed one book and eighteen academic papers in the last two years. The book is entitled Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture. (UC Press, w/ B. Winterhalder) and has been positively reviewed in Science (313: 173-174; July 2006) and American Anthropologist (Vol. 109, June 2007). It was also considered to be “Among the most significant contributions to the literature on the origins of food production in many years” by the Quarterly Review of Biology. He has also been working with an interdisciplinary team of scientist exploring evolutionary implications of a major extraterrestrial impact event 13,000 years ago in North America (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). This work has received widespread media attention and was considered to be one of the top 100 scientific discoveries of 2007 by Discover Magazine. Many of the additional papers were collaborations with other members of the institute or with students/faculty from the Department of Anthropology and were focused on evolutionary consequences of war or ecological adaptations to coastal environments. Last year he received a small grant from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, 2006, for a project entitled Exploring the Role of Climate Change in the Political Demise of Uxbenká ($10,000 w/Kevin Cannariato, University of Southern California). This grant is serving as a basis for developing a larger project to study the development and collapse of complex polities in the Maya region and elsewhere. This proposal, entitled “A Modeling Environment for the Study of Societal Development and Collapse: Climate, Landscape, and Political Ecology of the Maya, 2500 BP to the Present” (1.5 million) was recently submitted to the National Science Foundation’s dynamically coupled biological and human systems program.

D. J. Kennett and J. P. Kennett, 2007,
Influence of Holocene Marine Transgression and Climate Change on Human Cultural Evolution in Southern Mesopotamia Middle Holocene. In Climate and Culture Change, edited by D. Anderson, D. Sandweiss and K. A. Maasch, pp. 229-264, Elsevier, Inc, New York.

D. J. Kennett, B. J. Culleton, J. P. Kennett, J. M. Erlandson, and K. G. Cannariato, 2007,
Middle Holocene Climate Change and Population Dispersal in Western North America. In Climate and Culture Change, edited by D. Anderson, D. Sandweiss, and K. A. Maasch, pp. 531-557 Elsevier, Inc, New York.

T. J. Braje, D. J. Kennett, J. M. Erlandson, and B.J. Culleton, 2007,
Trans-Holocene Subsistence Changes and Human Impacts on a Marine Ecosystem on Santa Rosa Island, California. American Antiquity 72(4):735-756.

C. B. Smith, D. J. Kennett, T. Wake, and B. Voorhies, 2007,
Prehistoric Sea Turtle Hunting on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology 2:231-235.

S. D. Newsome., M. A. Etnier, D. Gifford-Gonzalez, D. L. Phillips, M. van Tuinen, E. Hadly, D. P. Costa, D. J. Kennett, T. P. Guilderson, and P. L. Koch 2007,
The shifting baseline of northern fur seal ecology in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 9709-9714.

R. B. Firestone, A. West, J. P. Kennett, L. Becker, T. E. Bunch, Z. S. Revay, P. H. Schultz, T. Belgya, D. J. Kennett, J. M. Erlandson, O. J. Dickenson, A. A. Goodyear, R. S. Harris, G. A. Howard, J. B. Kloosterman, P. Lechler, P. A. Mayewski, J. Montgomery, R. Poreda, T. Darrah, S. S. Que Hee, A. R. Smith, A. Stich, W. Topping, J. H. Wittke, and W. S. Wolbach, 2007.
Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and Younger Dryas cooling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 16016-16021.

O. Smirnov, H. Arrow, D. J. Kennett, and J. M. Orbell. 2007,
Ancestral War and the Evolutionary Origins of “Heroism”. Journal of Politics 69(4): 927-940.

N. E. Graham, M. K. Hughes, C. M. Ammann, K. M. Cobb, M. P. Hoerling, D. J. Kennett, J. P. Kennett, B. Rein, L. Stott, P. E. Wigand, and T. Xu, 2007,
Tropical Pacific-Mid-latitude Teleconnections in Medieval Times, Climate Change. 83 (1-2): 241-285.

D. J. Kennett, J. P. Kennett, J. M. Erlandson, and K. G. Cannariato, 2007.
Human Responses to Middle Holocene Climate Change on California’s Channel Islands, Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 351-367.

A. Arrow, O. Smirnov, J. Orbell, and D. J. Kennett, 2007.
The Selective Consequences of War: A Formal Model, In Conflict in Organizational Teams: New Directions in Theory and Practice, edited by L. Thompson and K. Behfar, pp. 113-142, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, IL.

Culleton, B. J., D. J. Kennett, B. L. Ingram, J. Erlandson, and J. Southon, 2006,
Intra-shell Radiocarbon Variability in Marine Mollusks, Radiocarbon, 48(3): 387-400.

D. J. Kennett, A. Anderson, M. Prebble, E. Conte and J. Southon, 2006,
Human Impacts on Rapa, French Polynesia. Antiquity 80: 340-354.

D. J. Kennett and J. P. Kennett, 2006,
Sea Levels, Shorelines, Climate Change, and Cultural Evolution in Southern Mesopotamia. Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology 1(1): 39-71. (Science, 312: 1109, May 2006, Editor’s Choice)

T. J. Braje, J. M. Erlandson, D. J. Kennett, and T. C. Rick, 2006,
Archaeology and Marine Conservation. The Archaeological Record 6 (1): 14-18.

D. J. Kennett, B. Voorhies, and D. Martorana, 2006,
An Evolutionary Model for the Origins of Agriculture on the Pacific Coast of Southern Mexico. In Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture, edited by D. J. Kennett and B. Winterhalder, pp. 103-136. University of California Press, Berkeley.

D. J. Kennett, A. Anderson, and B. Winterhalder, 2006,
The Ideal Free Distribution, Food Production, and the Colonization of Oceania, In Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture, edited by D. J. Kennett and B. Winterhalder, pp. 265-288. University of California Press, Berkeley.

B. Winterhalder and D. J. Kennett, 2006,
Behavioral Ecology and the Transition from Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture. In Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture, edited by D. J. Kennett and B. Winterhalder, pp.1-21. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Rick, T. C., D. J. Kennett and J. M. Erlandson (2006)
Early Holocene Land Use and Subsistence on Eastern Santa Rosa Island, California. Current Research in the Pleistocene 22: 60-62.

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