Strong presence of CICS researchers and DCCS students in the 31st version of the HBES 2019 Congress in Boston

Wednesday, 5 June, 2019 | NEWS

Presentations covered topics as diverse as the role of social joy in evolution, elicitation jealousy in the laboratory, demographic processes and adherence to social norms; and the relationship between cooperation and academic performance in the classroom.

The conference of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, for its prestige and interdisciplinary orientation, is one of the most important spaces to expose the work we develop in the Research Center in Social Complexity (CICS) in collaboration with our network of related centers: LERI (USACH), LABCAH (UPLA) and CEP (UCSB); centers whose research program shares with us the importance of understanding social behavior under the principles of evolutionary thought.

In this sense, it is a source of pride that six papers from our network of Doctorate’s collaborators were accepted to develop four oral presentations and to launch 2 posters. These works involved seven researchers from the Doctorate network: Isabel Behncke (UDD, CICS), Loreto Bravo (UDD, IDS), Tamas David-Barrett (UDD, CICS), Ana María Fernández (USACH, Leri), Cristián Candia ( UDD, CICS) and Carlos Rodríguez Sickert (UDD, CICS); and four students of our PhD Program: María Teresa Barbato, Sebastián Díaz, Oriana Figueroa and Víctor Landaeta.

In this version of the conference – held in Boston, United States, from May 29 until June 1 –  we had the additional joy associated with the appointment of Leda Cosmides, co-director of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California and Permanent Visiting Professor at the Universidad del Desarrollo, as president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.


On the first day of HBES 2019, Isabel Behncke presented “Play in wild bonobos and the role of social joy in human evolution”. The expert in Evolutionary Anthropology focused on the play behavior of adult bonobos, not only because they are one of the funniest species, but because they are “our closest living relatives”. After more than 2 thousand hours of observation during three years in the Congo, the scientist realized that the game was part of the daily life of this species, this activity being the most sensitive to the context. In the same way, she perceived that there was a “festive” socialization that also occurs in humans. Thus, the researcher delved into the link with the human that emerges from what was observed in the Bonobos’ behavior and thus have a better understanding of the evolution of humanity.

Tamas David-Barrett, academician of the Doctorate in Social Complexity Sciences (DCCS), CICS researcher and PhD in Economics of the University of London, presented the work “Empirical evidence for networks effects of urbanization and fertility transition”. This research had the close collaboration of the DCCS student, Sebastián Díaz. It also had the participation of the director of the Institute of Physics of the University of Technology and Economics of Budapest, Janos Kertesz. The presentation gave an account of the mathematical theory proposed by the researcher for the linking of demographic processes with an increase in the breach of norms, and also the replacement of the application of norms based on traditional social networks with formal legal institutions. The results obtained after the tests carried out validate the theory and offer immediate political implications.

Ana María Fernández, Director of the Laboratory of Interpersonal Relations (LERI), Usach, and collaborator of our doctorate, presented the work “Sex differences in jealousy and evoked by allocating to or receiving money from the opposite sex”. In this research, the student of the DCCS, María Teresa Barbato and the researcher of the CICS, Carlos Rodríguez-Sickert also participated. Fernández presented the development of a new and innovative method to evoke jealousy in individuals in a romantic couple through games theory. After several tests performed on 28 couples, the results show that, by using this protocol, there is a sex difference in the evocation of jealousy, following the precepts of the evolutionary psychology hypothesis. This method validates the notion jealousy is an emotion which protects the couple’s bond and unleash the study on the hypothesis that jealousy is related to the rival and not to mutual trust.

During the last day of the HBES 2019, it was the researcher and director of the CICS, Carlos Rodríguez-Sickert’s oral presentation. In this opportunity, presented “Do cooperative relationships promote culture learning? A test in elementary schools”, research that featured the outstanding contributions of the DCCS student, Víctor Landaeta; the director of the Collective Learning group of the MIT Media Lab, César Hidalgo; and the first graduate of our PhD, Cristian Candia. In his presentation, Rodríguez-Sickert delved into the link between cooperation and learning, by studying the relationship between performance in primary school and the student’s position in their social network. After carrying out various field studies, it is concluded, among other things, that those students who participate in high levels of reciprocal cooperation have a significantly higher average grade, suggesting that “friendship, as a predictor of mutually cooperative relationships, can improve academic performance”.

“Women’s trust and cooperation with Sex and the City characters” is the title of the poster presented by Ana María Fernández and the DCCS student, Oriana Figueroa, along with five other researchers. It examines how women’s mating strategies affect the willingness of others to trust and cooperate with them. The study subjects were asked to read descriptions of four women who contained information about the different attitudes of the Sex and the City’s characters , towards love, sex and heterosexual relationships. The participants assessed the interest and suitability of the characters for a variety of heterosexual relationships and chose one of them in a range of hypothetical situations that require varying degrees of trust and cooperation. The conclusions were related to the “state of relationship” (love) which the participants were in.

Finally, Ana María Fernández, presented the poster “Life history theory, dark triad, infidelity perception and sexual coercion in Chilean men”. In it, the researcher deals with the issue of sexual coercion, understood as any verbal or physical method to obtain sexual activity without the consent of her partner. Thus, there are individual differences in the propensity to use this strategy, and the literature evidences associations between sexual coercion and personality variables, such as: a quick life strategy, triad of dark personality and suspicions of infidelity, which indicates that a coercive strategy could be used to access mating resources. This research aims to associate these personality variables with sexual coercion and determine which would be the best predictors of this strategy in Chilean men.

See the HBES 2019 program here

Carlos Rodríguez-Sickert.

Carlos Rodríguez-Sickert.

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