Month: February 2016

Adam Selingman’s lecture “Living with Difference”

Please join us on February 29, 2016 at 2:15 for a talk by Adam Seligman, Professor of Religion at Boston University entitled: “Living with Difference”. Adam’s talk is the second in the James Barnett Lecture Series in Humanistic Anthropology Religion and Public Discourse.
These talks are sponsored by the Public Discourse Project, UConn Humanities Institute and the James Barnett Lecture Series. For more information on the talk, please follow this link:

All lectures are open to the public and will be held at The Humanities Institute (UCHI), Austin Building, Room 301. For more information please contact Richard Sosis (
adam seligman

M. Singer on community impacts and perceptions of climate change

Merrill Singer’s research on community impacts and perceptions of climate change was published in Medical anthropology.

“I Feel Suffocated:” Understandings of Climate Change in an Inner City Heat Island.
Merrill Singer, Jose Hasemann and Abigail Raynor


Global climate change is contributing to a range of adverse environmental and weather shifts, including more intense and more frequent heat waves and an intensification of the urban heat island effect. These changes are known to produce a set of significant and differentially distributed health problems, with a particularly high burden among poor and marginalized populations. We examined community knowledge, attitudes, health and other concerns, and behavioral responses regarding mounting urban temperatures and related environmental health issues among Latinos living in the Northeast U.S. city of Hartford, CT. Our findings suggest the need for enhanced participation in knowledge dissemination and preparedness planning based on the co-production of knowledge about climate change and community responses to it. The special potential role of anthropology in such efforts is highlighted by our analysis.

Martin Lang has been awarded a summer fellowship at IBACS

Martin LangCongratulations to our graduate student Martin Lang, who has been awarded a summer fellowship at the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS)! The project entitled “Effects of predictable behavioral patterns on anxiety” will examine the mechanisms by which ritualization might soothe anxiety, and may reveal better ways of stress-management and coping with anxiety.

New paper about environmental cues and fairness

It Depends Who Is Watching You: 3-D Agent Cues Increase Fairness

Jan Krátký, John J. McGraw, Dimitris Xygalatas, Panagiotis Mitkidis, Paul Reddish


Laboratory and field studies have demonstrated that exposure to cues of intentional agents in the form of eyes can increase prosocial behavior. However, previous research mostly used 2-dimensional depictions as experimental stimuli. Thus far no study has examined the influence of the spatial properties of agency cues on this prosocial effect. To investigate the role of dimensionality of agency cues on fairness, 345 participants engaged in a decision-making task in a naturalistic setting. The experimental treatment included a 3-dimensional pseudo-realistic model of a human head and a 2-dimensional picture of the same object. The control stimuli consisted of a real plant and its 2-D image. Our results partly support the findings of previous studies that cues of intentional agents increase prosocial behavior…..

D. Xygalatas’ research on moralistic gods published in Nature

Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality

Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Coren Apicella, Quentin D. Atkinson, Emma Cohen, Rita Anne McNamara, Aiyana K. Willard, Dimitris Xygalatas, Ara Norenzayan & Joseph Henrich

moralistic gods

Since the origins of agriculture, the scale of human cooperation and societal complexity has dramatically expanded. This fact challenges standard evolutionary explanations of prosociality because well-studied mechanisms of cooperation based on genetic relatedness, reciprocity and partner choice falter as people increasingly engage in fleeting transactions with genetically unrelated strangers in large anonymous groups. To explain this rapid expansion of prosociality, researchers have proposed several mechanisms. Here we focus on one key hypothesis: cognitive representations of gods as increasingly knowledgeable and punitive, and who sanction violators of interpersonal social norms, foster and sustain the expansion of cooperation, trust and fairness towards co-religionist strangers….