#1 Daniel Balliet (VU Amsterdam)
Cross-societal differences in cooperation
Thursday, November 24th, 2022, from 10:45 to 12:00
#2 Maxime Derex (Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse)
Causal understanding is not necessary for the improvement of culturally evolving technology
Thursday, Jannuary 26th, 2023, from 10:45 to 12:00
Highly-optimized tools are common in traditional populations. Bows and arrows, dogsleds, clothing, houses, and kayaks are just a few examples of the complex, exquisitely designed tools that humans produced and used to colonize new, demanding environments. Because there is much evidence that humans’ cognitive abilities are unparalleled, many believe that such technologies resulted from our superior causal reasoning abilities alone. However, others have stressed that the high dimensionality of human technologies make them very hard to understand causally. Instead, they argue that optimized technologies emerge through the selective retention of small improvements across generations without requiring understanding of how these technologies work. Here, I will present an experiment that supports the latter view by showing that a physical artifact becomes progressively optimized across generations of social learners in the absence of causal understanding. Moreover, I will show that the transmission of causal models across generations has no noticeable effect on the pace of cultural accumulation. The reason is that individuals do not spontaneously create multidimensional causal theories but instead mainly produce simplistic causal models that constrain exploration in subsequent generations of social learners. These results indicate that complex technologies need not result from enhanced causal reasoning but, instead, can emerge from the accumulation of improvements made across generations.
#3 Edwin Van Hooft (University of Amsterdam)
Boredom at work: What are the consequences, when do these occur, and how can workers cope adaptively
Thursday, March 30th, 2023, from 10:45 to 12:00
In the workplace it is quite common that employees experience feelings of boredom. Prevalence estimates vary but indicate that between 25% and 87% of the employees feel bored at work at least sometimes. Early studies examined work-related boredom in the context of monotonous, repetitive, and vigilance jobs. However, more recent research has indicated that boredom also occurs in white-collar jobs. Work-related boredom can be described as a negative activity-related emotional state, implying that employees experience a negative intrinsic value regarding their work.