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Why do we behave the way we do?

Why did our sense of disgust evolve and what are the benefits of copying others? 

Scientists will gather at the University of St Andrews this week (8-10 April 2009) to answer key questions relating to human behaviour.

The latest scientific research on the origins and effects of behaviour will be showcased at the inaugural conference of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) in St Andrews.

Over 150 presentations by internationally-renowned experts will cover subjects from wrestling with maternal guilt to the effects of wearing red and arranged marriage.  Other questions asked will include how does technology shape society and how do social interactions affect social relationships in primates?

Plenary speakers will include leading names such as Professor Marc Feldman of Stanford University, Professor Joan Silk and Professor Rob Boyd of the University of California, and Dr Val Curtis of the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine.

The meeting doubles as a flagship conference for the CULTAPTATION project, an EU-sponsored international initiative exploring dynamics and adaptation in cultural evolution.

Part of the CULTAPTATION project involved the international Social Learning Strategies Tournament. Participants in the tournament were asked to describe how their computer agent would use a unique combination of learning, copying and acting to outwit over 80 others in a complex, changing world simulation. The winners, Dan Cownden and Tim Lillicrap of Queen’s University (Ontario, Canada), netted themselves a prize of 10,000 Euros, which will be presented at the conference.

The EHBEA President, Professor Kevin Laland of the University of St Andrews, commented, “We are very proud to be hosting over 200 scientists at the first conference of the new European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association. It promises to be an excellent event and will provide an exciting opportunity for inter-disciplinary discussions about how evolution can help us to understand human behaviour.”

The organisers of the conference, Professor Laland, Dr Gillian Brown, Dr Luke Rendell, Dr Tamsin Saxton and Mr Lewis Dean, are based in the Schools of Biology and Psychology.

The inaugural conference of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association will take place at the University of St Andrews from 6 – 8 April.

ENDS

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer 01334 467227,  07900 050 103 or email: gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk

Ref:  EHBEA conference 06/04/09
View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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