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[Colloquium] Prosocial preferences and the evolution of behavior within and between groups

November 19, 2010

Watch Colloquium: 

M4V file (721 MB)


  • Date: Friday, November 19, 2010 
  • Time: 12noon — 12:50 pm 
  • Place: Centennial Engineering Center, Room 1041

Jeremy Van Cleve 
Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Santa Fe Institute

Although much is known about the evolutionary forces that promote or inhibit prosocial or cooperative behavior, much less in known about how the proximate mechanisms underlying behavior interact with those forces. In this talk, we will model a proximate mechanism of behavior based on social objectives or preferences. Using this model, we will show how prosocial preferences can evolve even when the payoffs individuals get are in direct conflict and argue that such preferences form the basis of emotions such as empathy. The evolution of these preferences depends on the level of responsiveness that they generate between individuals. We show that accounting for this responsiveness in structured populations resolves some of the controversy concerning whether Darwinian adaptations can occur at the level of the group.

Bio: Jeremy Van Cleve is an Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. He is generally interested in applying theoretical approaches to conceptual questions in evoultionary biology and ecology. Some of his current research topics include the evolution of genomic imprinting, the evolution of prosocial behaviors, evolution in changing environments, and theoretical methods in evolutionary theory. Jeremy received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 2009.