WICI Speakers Series: Michael Varnum - How and Why do Cultures Change?Export this event to calendar

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 — 12:00 PM EDT

Join WICI on Wednesday, October 9th in QNC 1501 for our next Speaker Series with Michael Barnum.

Reception will be from 12-12:30 and the talk will be from 12:30 - 2 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided - please RSVP on Eventbrite.

In this talk Dr. Michael Varnum, Associate Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU), presents findings from a line of research exploring the causes of a diverse array of cultural changes that have taken place in the past several decades/centuries including shifts in individualism, gender equality, innovation, contempt, and fertility.

He argues that these changes can best be understood using theoretical frameworks drawn from behavioural ecology, emphasizing the role of ecological cues in shaping patterns of human psychology and behaviour. He also presents research on changes in cultural transmission processes suggesting that simpler content is more successfully transmitted during time periods when more choices are present.

Finally, he uses econometric methods to provide concrete forecasts for future levels for several variables discussed in this talk, and he also provides some looser predictions regarding how current technological and ecological trends may shape our brains' structure and function in the years to come.

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Michael Varnum uses insights from biology to help understand sources of cultural variation and causes of cultural change. In one line of research, he uses frameworks and tools from behavioural ecology, evolutionary psychology, and econometrics to understand the causes of patterns of cultural change and to forecast future patterns of change (including changes in individualism, gender equality, contempt, and lyrical complexity). He also uses ecology as a way to understand patterns of cultural variation. In addition, he uses EEG and ERP to explore cultural variations in a range of psychological processes including empathy, emotion regulation, and mirror responses to others’ motor movements. Varnum heads the Culture and Ecology Laboratory at ASU.

Location 
QNC - Quantum Nano Centre
1501
200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Canada

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