SBEE Seminar Series: Alexandra Rosati

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Note: SBEE Seminars take place from 11:45 am to 12:45 pm. 

Primate patience: from foraging to cooperation


Intertemporal choices involving tradeoffs between benefits and time costs are ubiquitous in both human and animal lives. Several proposals argue that nonhumans are stuck in the ‘now’, whereas future-orienting cognition allows humans to think ahead and make adaptive decisions. What is the ultimate function of high levels of patience, and why do such abilities emerge? I will argue that a suite of decision-making capacities including inter-temporal choice and future planning evolved in the context of foraging behaviors, and vary with ecological complexity across species. Then, I will examine how these capacities for self-control can be generalized from foraging contexts to solve new but evolutionarily-important problems, like cooking food. Finally, I will present work testing the hypothesis that low levels of self-control constrain cooperation in primates, and therefore may explain human-unique forms of ultra-sociality.

Speaker Bio

Alexandra Rosati is an assistant professor of psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan. She received a PhD in evolutionary anthropology and cognitive neuroscience from Duke University. Her research examines the evolutionary origins of the human mind: how do our primate relatives think about the world, are their psychological abilities similar to or different from our own, and why do some species differ in their cognitive abilities? This work uses a comparative approach drawing on evolutionary theory and cognitive science to understand how complex cognitive traits emerge, with a special focus on the origins of decision-making and economic behavior in primates.