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                    [post_content] => In the essays presented by Whitehouse and Wilson, both authors present an account on developing field sites for studying cultural evolution. The target essays are presented from the viewpoints of an evolutionary biologist (David Sloan Wilson) and an anthropologist (Harvey Whitehouse). While I am generally supportive of their proposition, there are also logistical concerns with maintaining field sites that should be discussed. This commentary is presented from the viewpoint of a cognitive anthropologist and a recent doctoral graduate who, despite a relatively short career, has conducted her own research at multiple field sites.

There is a particular point, stressed by Whitehouse, which I believe should be a focus of future research projects. Namely, evolutionary approaches should be the theoretical foundation for the investigations at field sites such as those described by Whitehouse and Wilson. Whitehouse has noted that the differences between Psychology (EP) and Evolutionary Theories of Culture (ETC) may not be that great. This is not a new stance, as he has argued for it before (Whitehouse, 2004). Synthesizing the different evolutionary approaches to culture should be a target for projects such as those outlined in the target articles. This is because finding a theoretical framework that is appropriate for investigating the wide variety of cultures targeted by projects such as AnthroLab must walk a fine line between generalizability and contextual sensitivity. However, as outlined here and elsewhere, it has been noted that both EP and ETC have their merits in helping to develop new hypotheses for research. Although many question the utility of ETC as anything more than an analogy to biological evolution (Knudt, 2015), the general focus of cultural evolution on information that is socially learned provides a focus to what it is about human social groups that make them unique. This focus on unique socially learned behaviours can be combined with evolutionary psychology, which posits that human minds evolved in order to process such social information. By assuming that all naturally developed human minds share a suite of cognitive mechanisms which evolved to process different information—including socially transmitted information (a point stressed in earlier writing on evolutionary psychology, e.g. Tooby & Cosmides, 1992, p. 24)—we can use evolutionary theory as a foundation for the study of culture.

I find the proposition of synthesizing EP and ETC quite persuasive, as I have embraced it in my own research. During my most recent fieldwork, I studied how the development of executive function and the ability to delay gratification in children can be manipulated by adopting a ritual stance or instrumental stance (Rybanska, McKay, Jong, & Whitehouse, in press). Briefly, individuals adopt an instrumental stance towards learning instrumental skills, assuming that the modelled actions are performed in the service of a specific concrete goal in accordance with normal expectations about physical causation (e.g. washing hands). On the other hand, individuals adopt a ritual stance towards learning conventional, ritualised behaviours, i.e. actions are executed in a certain way simply because it is demanded by a convention, with no clear links between actions and goals (e.g. ritual washing). These different ways of approaching actions (as instrumental or ritual) should have effects on our cognitive mechanisms. More specifically, because a ritual stance demands close attention to actions and the necessity to perform these actions correctly, it puts greater demands on executive function. This generated the hypothesis that performing actions that promoted the adoption of a ritual stance—as opposed to an instrumental stance—should have positive effects on executive function. I took this hypothesis to not one, but two field sites: Slovakia and Vanuatu. What I found was that adopting a ritual stance increased executive function and the ability to delay gratification in both field sites, and there were no significant differences between the two (Rybanska, et al., in press). In this way, one can argue that the cognitive underpinnings of executive function, the ability to delay gratification, and even those that govern the adoption of ritual or instrumental stances are likely evolved psychological mechanisms that recur cross-culturally and develop at similar points in childhood.



However, it does not take a keen eye to see that there are vast differences in the rituals performed in Vanuatu and Slovakia. While most rituals in Slovakia would be familiar to anyone with basic knowledge of Central European cultures, rituals in Vanuatu can sometimes involve rare, dangerous rituals, such as land diving, where men jump from a wooden tower with only vines tied around their ankles. At the same time, some communities in Vanuatu have been exposed to European missionary efforts, and have adopted many of their ritual practices. The historical contexts that outline the shifts from one form of ritual to another can be interpreted through the lens of cultural evolution, as noted by both Whitehouse and Wilson.



Although as a cognitive anthropologist I greatly appreciate both Wilson and Whitehouse stressing the importance of fieldwork, as a researcher  who operated in multiple field locations in both Europe and the South Pacific I would like to stress a logistical issue that cannot be overlooked; namely, the  issue of funding. While Wilson suggests that funding is not of utmost importance, the idea that this sort of research can be sustained at a university without funding is unrealistic. Students, particularly graduate students—who are producing much of the work in the field—cannot sustain themselves, pay the fees requested by universities, and sustain a field site without additional funding; even paying undergraduates “very affordable wages” is an additional cost not afforded to most researchers out of tenure track. Although Wilson appears to recognize that tenured faculty have certain liberties to pursue such research because they are permanently salaried, such positions are increasingly rare (The American Federation of Teachers, 2003) and currently some universities are employing as many as 70% of their employees on temporary contracts (Chakrabortty & Weale, 2016). Such a system is not conducive to setting up and sustaining field sites in and around universities. Furthermore, setting up and sustaining field sites in multiple remote locations entail additional costs of travel and lodging which are not feasible given the economic circumstances of many researchers who are not beneficiaries of research grants. As such, the sustenance of the field sites may be subject to fits and spurts of research as they fall between cracks in funding cycles.

Whitehouse acknowledges that “one of the most obvious barriers to progress is funding”. However, one could add that it is not just securing funding, but the efficient and appropriate allocation of funds to sustain a project as ambitious as that outlined by Whitehouse, which involve costs such as research assistance, travel, lodging, equipment costs, and other research expenses. It is true that some research expenses can be cut down. Using my own research project as an example, I studied the vernacular language of Vanuatu (Bislama) which enabled me to not only conduct all of my research in the field without a translator and thus eliminating significant costs, but also, as an anthropologist I was able to create greater rapport with the local communities. Although this is an imperative for establishing a field site, it is being neglected by many researchers, creating distance and lost meanings between researchers and communities. From an anthropological perspective, creating bonds with the local communities is of high importance, although this is not always the case as some researchers treat local communities as merely their own personal participant pool.



Logistical concerns notwithstanding, it is admirable that both Whitehouse and Wilson are emphasizing the importance of fieldwork for the study of culture. It is true that this has been underrated and neglected and many researchers have felt that field work can be replaced by lab experiments with college students. Wilson and Whitehouse are right that in order for us to understand culture, it is in relation to our environments, both biological—as stressed by evolutionary psychology—and social—as stressed by cultural evolution—and that a well validated theoretical perspective can generate insights and explanations that lab experiments alone cannot provide.

References
Chakrabortty, A., & Weale, S. (2016, November 16). Universities accused of ’ importing Sports Direct model ’ for lecturers ’ pay. The Guardian, p. 2. London. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/16/universities-accused-of-importing-sports-direct-model-for-lecturers-pay

Kundt, R. (2015). Contemporary evolutionary theories of culture and the study of religion. London New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Rybanska, V., Mckay, R., Jong, J., & Whitehouse, H. (in press). Rituals improve children's ability to delay gratification. Child Development.

The American Federation of Teachers. (2003). The Growth of Full-time Faculty Challenges for the Union (No. 36–0700). Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED497913.pdf

Tooby, J & Cosmides, L. (1992). The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (eds.) The Adapted mind : evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Whitehouse, H. (2004). Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.


Images copyrighted by Veronika Rybanska. All rights reserved. 

                    [post_title] => Addressing the Field Site Concept: A Cognitive Anthropologist’s View
                    [post_excerpt] => In order for us to understand culture, it is in relation to our environments, both biological—as stressed by evolutionary psychology—and social—as stressed by cultural evolution. A well validated theoretical perspective can generate insights and explanations that lab experiments alone cannot provide.
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                    [post_content] => In a set of two captivating essays, Harvey Whitehouse and David Sloan Wilson share their views on the role of the field site concept in the study of cultural evolution. They each present a vision for a holistic research paradigm that combines contextual sensitivity with methodological rigor. I salute this view, and I attempt to add to the point by drawing from my own research experience.

As someone who was trained across disciplines and has spent several years in the field as well as in various laboratories, I have come to appreciate the benefits of each research paradigm but also to be wary of their respective limitations. More importantly, I have come to realize that the lab and the field are not antagonistic modes of inquiry but two sides of the same coin. I find the “two cultures” problem raised in Whitehouse’s essay to be the greatest impediment to a holistic understanding of human nature, because it creates a false dichotomy, expressed along numerous dimensions: explanation versus understanding, measurement versus observation, laboratory versus field, and so on. I find such dichotomies counter-productive, and often detached from reality, as they are primarily the product of specific socio-political factors pertaining to academia itself rather than a response to discontinuities found in the natural world.

It is true that methodological specialization is necessary to deal with the complexity of our world. However, one should not mistake a discipline’s limitations for its virtues, or confound what is convenient with what is desirable. Laboratory experiments afford precision and simplicity. But while precision is always desirable, simplicity is a mere methodological tool that helps us increase precision, and it comes at a steep cost: in the human behavioral sciences, the more we simplify the phenomena we examine the more we move away from them, as the complexity we are trying to reduce is an inextricable part of what we want to isolate (Boster, 2011). Inversely, field observation allows social scientists to study precisely the things that matter to them (real-life), but is very difficult to conduct in truly scientific fashion (although, as Wilson points out, not impossible). But to argue, as some cultural anthropologists do, that scientific methods are undesirable rather than simply hard to implement seems like the result of cognitive dissonance.

As a result of this fallacious thinking, we are led to not only methodological but also epistemological and even ontological encapsulation between disciplines. This leaves us with a landscape in the study of human behavior where the vast majority of studies gravitate around one of two main attractors: on the one hand (upper-left in the graph), we have ethnographic field studies, which are high in ecological relevance and validity but low in control and precision; and on the other hand (bottom-right), we have lab studies, which are high in control but low in relevance. What we all want, of course, is the closet possible approximation of that (possibly unattainable in itself) ideal top-right corner. And the best way to reach that space is by building a methodological bridge that connects field and laboratory methods. This bridge can provide a path for cross-disciplinary dialogue and mutual enrichment, as well as the scaffolding for inter-disciplinary approaches that combine the strengths of each type of method.



Naturalistic experiments (typically pseudo-experiments that employ precise quantification in a real-life setting without random assignment) may allow the researcher to assess phenomena that cannot be studied either in controlled experiments or by participant-observation. For example, my colleagues and I have studied the inter-personal alignment of psycho-physiological states during the performance of large-scale, highly arousing collective rituals (Bulbulia et al., 2013; Konvalinka et al., 2011; Fischer et al., 2014). Such studies would have been impossible to conduct in a laboratory setting because, a myriad practical reasons aside, these rituals are heavily laden with meaning that cannot be evoked at will in an artificial context. Neither would we have been able to approach our questions on the basis of ethnography alone, as we were interested in internal states that are often inaccessible to participants (Xygalatas et al., 2013).

Some times, controlled experiments are also possible in the field. For example, when we wanted to study the effects of environmental cues on behavior, instead of using a highly controlled but artificial laboratory environment, we went out to the real world and used temples, restaurants, and libraries, and either randomly assigned participants to different locations or made minor interventions to the environment itself (Krátký et al., 2016; Xygalatas et al., 2016). Thus, by embracing the complexity of the real world while giving up only limited control, these designs too offered cumulative benefits that neither ethnographic observation nor laboratory experiments alone could offer.

Needless to say, some things are better studied in specific ways. If we are interested in the favorite topics of gossip within a community, conversations with trusted informants will reveal more than any quantitative method. But if we are interested in neurological reactions to gossip, the controlled environment of the neuroscience laboratory is ideal. Which brings us to another important reason for building that bridge between the lab and the field.

The systematic, incremental production of scientific knowledge consists of a circle which connects observation, theory, prediction, testing, and re-evaluation. Each time the circle is repeated, we (hopefully) become a little bit wiser. As Wilson points out, laboratory research must be informed by field observation in order to ask the right questions. But as Whitehouse emphasizes, observation and description are not the same as explanation –that requires experimentation and systematic comparison. Any individual study can only tell us so much. To gain a holistic understanding of social evolution, we need to consider cumulative evidence, completing the puzzle one piece at a time. And to do that, we need to move back and forth between field and lab studies, but also, crucially, to understand that neither the former always need to be devoid of control, not the latter must always be detached from real-life settings. The two authors offer compelling arguments on why and how to do this, including the nitty-gritty of establishing, running, maintaining, and connecting field projects. They warn that this is not an easy task: it is expensive, time-consuming, and requires overcoming long-established disciplinary boundaries. I know all of that to be true from personal experience. But I also know the cumulative benefits of combining laboratory and field methods to be greater than the sum of their parts

Literature Cited
Boster, J. (2011). Data, method, and interpretation in cognitive anthropology. In: A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology.

Bulbulia, J., D. Xygalatas, U. Schjødt, S. Fondevila, C. Sibley & I. Konvalinka (2013). Images From a Jointly-Arousing Collective Ritual Reveal Emotional Polarization, Frontiers in Psychology 4, article 960.

Fischer, R., D. Xygalatas, P. Mitkidis, P. Reddish, I. Konvalinka & J. Bulbulia (2014). The fire-walker’s high: Affect and physiological responses in an extreme collective ritual. PLOS ONE 9(2): e88355

Konvalinka, I., D. Xygalatas, J. Bulbulia, U. Schjødt, E. Jegindø, S. Wallot, G. Van Orden & A. Roepstorff (2011). Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 108 (20): 8514-8519

Krátký, J., J. McGraw, D. Xygalatas, P. Mitkidis, & P. Reddish (2016). It depends who is watching you: 3-dimensional agent representations increase generosity in a naturalistic setting, PLOS ONE 11(2): e0148845

Xygalatas, D., U. Schjødt, J. Bulbulia, I. Konvalinka, E. Jegindø, P. Reddish, A. W. Geertz & A. Roepstorff (2013). Autobiographical Memory in a Fire-Walking Ritual. Journal of Cognition and Culture 13(1-2): 1-16

Xygalatas, D., Kundtová Klocová, E., Cigán, J., Kundt, R., Maňo, P., Kotherová, S., Mitkidis, P. , Wallot, S. & Kanovsky, M. (2016). Location, location, location: Effects of cross-religious primes on prosocial behavior, International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 26(4): 304–319

Image via Lawrence Michaels.
                    [post_title] => Bridging the gap between laboratory and field
                    [post_excerpt] => To gain a holistic understanding of social evolution, we need to consider cumulative evidence, completing the puzzle one piece at a time. And to do that, we need to move back and forth between field and lab studies.
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                    [post_content] => The creation of field stations for the study of cultural evolution akin to the ecological stations that Wilson describes represents a significant departure from traditional anthropology where data are collected by just one or two researchers at a time using largely qualitative methods. At the Centre of Anthropology and Mind, Oxford, we have been pioneering a new kind of field research with special populations known for their high levels of in-group loyalty and inter-group rivalry: football fans. There is a wealth of sociological and psychological literature on football cultures, but, as Whitehouse points out, descriptions are not the same as explanations derived from controlled experiments. Using a pan-global network of football fans (starting with the UK, Brazil, and Australia) we have been investigating social cohesion, altruism, and out-group hostility.

Following observational fieldwork and interviews with fans in the UK, we generated research questions and took them to the field: the FIFA World Cup, held in Brazil, 2014. Here we collaborated with a research group at a local university who specialised in obtaining physiological measures and provided us with local RAs, who we trained in our approach. We then collected data from around 400 football fans during live national matches: at fan sites, in stadia, and in field laboratories, which we set up in hostels and community centres to collect physiological measures including salivary cortisol. For this study, most participants talked to each other, many were hard to contact for our follow up measures, and some consumed alcohol – everything you wouldn’t want in a laboratory. However, what we lacked in control, we made up for with ecological validity and supporting qualitative data to improve pervious designs to test group loyalty in British football fans (Newson et al., 2016) and out-group violence among Brazilian football hooligans (Newson et al., under review).

Field sites provide a setting not only for observational work but also experimental methodologies. Football fandom is a good example of how field laboratories enable experimentalists to access the richness of human culture. In the study above, the intensity of a live game, surrounded by other fans shouting, cheering, and crying, provided us with emotionally charged participants and created rich, textured data; helping us to set future research questions that were grounded in reality.

References
NEWSON, M., BUHRMESTER, M. & WHITEHOUSE, H. 2016. Explaining Lifelong Loyalty: The Role of Identity Fusion and Self-Shaping Group Events. PloS one, 11, e0160427.

NEWSON, M., Bortolini, T., da Silva, S., Acquino, J., Buhrmester,  M., Whitehouse, H. (under review) Brazil's Football Soldiers. PNAS.
                    [post_title] => Response to: Developing the Field Site Concept for the Study of Cultural Evolution
                    [post_excerpt] => Field sites provide a setting not only for observational work but also experimental methodologies. Football fandom is a good example of how field laboratories enable experimentalists to access the richness of human culture.
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                    [post_content] =>  

Harvey Whitehouse and David Sloan Wilson write two important commentaries on the role of field sites in the study of cultural evolution. Their contribution is especially timely considering the recent formation of the Cultural Evolution Society (CES). We have had the pleasure of working with Wilson and Whitehouse as part of the society’s steering committee and in this commentary we offer a psychological perspective on their vision of field sites in cultural evolution science. First, we seek to clarify what exactly a “field site” is in the context of research on human behavior. Next, we offer some recommendations for the types of field sites that may best serve cultural evolution as the field gathers momentum.

Briefly Considering Definitions
Consider whether the following data-collection centers should qualify as “field sites”:

Center A: A zoo-based research laboratory, where non-human animals are raised and studied in captivity.

 Center B: A study of fraternities and sororities at a large public university.

Center C: A study of online gaming communities which offer small amounts of money for participants to fill out online research surveys.

Center D: A small village in Papua New Guinea where a team of scientists are collecting behavioral data from local inhabitants.

Based on their commentaries, it is fairly clear that Wilson and Whitehouse do not consider Center A to qualify as a field site. Both authors point out that field sites take place at specific geographical locations where organisms can be observed in their natural habitat. These sorts of investigations can yield insights that experiments on captive animal populations could never offer. Wilson cites birds’ migratory patterns—which could never be observed in captive populations—as an example of such insights.

However, it is less clear whether under the authors’ definitions, Centers B-D would qualify. Whitehouse appears to disparage university campus research, noting that “restricting the study of cultural evolution to university campuses would arguably be equivalent to trying to study biological evolution exclusively in a zoo or aquarium,” yet human subjects in a university laboratory actually have far more in common with Peter and Rosmary Grant’s finches than any animal in captivity; both laboratory undergraduates and wild finches are living in a rich naturalistic environment—such as the above case of living in fraternities and sororities—that is informing their responses to experimental conditions and stimuli.

Similarly, in a study of online communities, participants may be taking a survey on a computer, but well-designed surveys of the dynamics of such communities approximate real life experiences in meaningful ways. In this sense, a high quality computer survey could rival any in which researchers fly to far-flung areas of the world to personally run experiments using non-WEIRD samples (“Center D”). In both cases, experimenters are testing valid theories of cultural evolution using targeted populations.

This exercise suggests that we need to be wary of using a narrow definition of “field sites” in the study of human behavior. Are they data collection centers where scientists study a specific population’s interaction with their environment? If so, many centers (virtual or face-to-face) where people collect data from human subjects could qualify as a field site. Or are they data collection centers where researchers study a small sample over time? If so, then hardly any mode of human subject data collection qualifies as a field site; indeed, this latter definition seems prohibitively narrow to serve as the paradigmatic foundation for a field as broad as cultural evolution.

Moving Beyond Definitions
The previous section’s semantic puzzle suggests that we should be doing more than simply recommending that researchers use field sites. Instead, we should be offering guidelines for how researchers should be employing their field sites broadly construed (i.e. centers of data collection on human behavior) to best serve cultural evolution theory. To this end, we offer three simple methodological recommendations—based on our own research experience—for how field sites should best be employed in cultural evolution scholarship.
  1. Field Sites Should Be Cross-Cultural. Each human society operates within unique ecological constraints, and cross-cultural research is ideal for mapping the influence of ecological variance on cultural evolution. For example, in our research, we have found that levels of ecological threat facilitate the development of stronger cultural norms (cultural tightness). This relationship occurs because cultures under threat face increased pressure to coordinate their behavior to sufficiently compete with other cultural groups, and we would never have observed it had we not been able to collect survey and archival data from 33 countries alongside dozens of international collaborators. We define “cross-cultural” very broadly—it could include but is not limited to variation across national, state, community, religious, class, and ethnic groups.
  1. Field Sites Should Be Multi-Method. Research on human behavior should operate at multiple levels of analysis using multiple methods to test for theoretical convergence. Human behavior varies from society to society, from state to state, from situation to situation, and from person to person. A strong cultural evolution theory should make predictions at each of these levels of analysis, and doing so requires methodological breadth. In our research on culture and norms, a combination of big data analysis, experimental designs, survey data, computational models, and neuroimaging have revealed that tightness-looseness has a fractal nature—no matter what the context, threat facilitates the development of stronger norms, which results in a range of downstream effects on attitudes and behavior which we refer to as the tight-loose trade-off for nations, states, groups, and individuals. Tight groups, for example, have greater order and self-regulation but greater ethnocentrism; loose groups have much more disorder and self-regulation challenges, but are more open and creative. By investigating this trade-off across levels and with multiple methods, we can begin to build general principles for the field of cultural evolution. 
  1. Field Sites Should Be Interdisciplinary. One exciting feature of cultural evolution research is its post-disciplinary nature. The CES membership already involves dozens of fields, and research in cultural evolution often involves interdepartmental collaboration. This approach to science minimizes the risk of theoretical redundancy, and helps researchers learn from one another, rather than talking past each other. Field sites should be no different, and we have tried to capitalize on interdisciplinarity in our research on tightness-looseness. At the moment, we are collaborating with anthropologists, computer scientists, political scientists, sociologists, management scholars, neuroscientists, and biologists in an effort to better understand the relationship between ecology and the strength of social norms. These collaborations have expanded the questions we ask, the way we can test them, the samples on which we test them, and have helped us broaden the implications of our findings.
We derive these insights from our own research, but see no reason why they shouldn’t apply to cultural evolution methodology in general. Indeed, given that field sites connote very different meanings across human and animal behavior, we believe that simply recommending them may not be enough to paradigmatically guide cultural evolution scholarship. If field sites are cross-cultural, multi-method, and collaborative across disciplines, however, they can improve the quality of our field, and help us make major steps toward understanding the evolution of human behavior. [post_title] => Defining and Implementing Field Sites in Cultural Evolution Science [post_excerpt] => If field sites are cross-cultural, multi-method, and collaborative across disciplines, however, they can improve the quality of our field, and help us make major steps toward understanding the evolution of human behavior. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => defining-and-implementing-field-sites-in-cultural-evolution-science [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-30 10:19:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-30 15:19:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://evolution-institute.org/?post_type=commentary&p=120005960 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => commentary [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 120005936 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2016-12-28 14:56:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-28 19:56:40 [post_content] => D.S. Wilson & Harvey Whitehouse’s essays offer a timely call for a reappraisal of the role of ‘field sites’ when attempting to explore processes of cultural evolution. Since one of us is a cognitive anthropologist and both of us have collected data ‘in the field’ at ritual events in Japan, we fully recognise the value of cultural evolution researchers entering ‘the field’ and conducting studies amongst actual communities. And whether this involves learning new methods to translate research protocols for the field or collaborating with those who already have such expertise is immaterial. The important point is that the central role of field research is acknowledged. In this response, however we do not seek to offer just cheerleading approval. Indeed, as individuals who have worked closely with Harvey Whitehouse on ritual research projects we can hardly be considered unbiased commentators. Consequently, we do not provide an in-depth critical review of the target articles but instead offer, first, a complementary recommendation and, second, an important note of caution concerning ‘field site’ research. In Wilson’s article, he raises an argument that he has stated repeatedly: that evolution can serve as a general framework to unify research in the social sciences, including that conducted in the ‘field’. We agree with this and note that there are several researchers who have already demonstrated how productive such a perspective can prove. However, we also wish to emphasise that rather than being just an effort to recommend in the future it is equally important for previous social science research that was not necessarily collected within an evolutionary framework to be reappraised. Alex Mesoudi’s (2008) research, for example, incorporates a selection of theoretical models from social psychology, including work addressing the conditions for imitation and social learning (e.g. Asch, 1951; Festinger, 1954; Bandura; 1977), but explores their implications from an explicitly evolutionary perspective. Moreover, we also have numerous examples of how adopting an evolutionary perspective can help to dissolve interdisciplinary boundaries, enabling biologists and social scientists to work together (e.g. Conradt & List, 2009; List, Elsholtz & Seeley, 2009; Kameda, Wisdom, Toyokawa, & Inukai, 2012). Pre-Darwinian theoretical models in political science from as early as the 18th century (Condorcet Jury Theorem; cf. List, 2004) are also being used productively as one of the basic models of collective intelligence that can be used to model collective competence in biology (Sumpter & Pratt, 2009; Wolf et al., 2013). These are just a few examples which demonstrate that taking account of evolutionary theory does not automatically require that the extensive existing social science findings be discarded. Instead, a critical reappraisal is necessary, to avoid wasting time ‘reinventing the wheel’. A clear parallel can be drawn here from the immensurable benefits extracted in post-Darwinian biological research from the diverse body of observational data collected prior to the development of the theory. Social science research, including material from the arts and humanities, could prove equally important to researchers of cultural evolution in the 21st Century. There are already examples of how productive such efforts can prove, including research based on phylogenetic analyses which rely on pre-existing data from linguistics (Grey & Atkinson; 2003), anthropology (Atkinson & Whitehouse, 2011; Wats, Sheehan, Atkinson, Bulbulia & Grey, 2016) and archaeology (O’Brien, Darwent & Lyman, 2001). The field of cultural psychology also represents a vast and still developing repository of information that researchers of cultural evolution should be advised to consult regularly. This is not to endorse the methods or the robustness of all the various cross-cultural theories, but to emphasise that much work has already been done in identifying cultural landscapes with relation to geo-political or ecological factors (e.g. Gelfand et al., 2011, Talhlem et al., 2014). Clearly there is still much work to be done and a vast quantity of existing second hand material that should be consulted and analysed. Yet, it is also the case that first-hand experience with field research is hard to overestimate. Both Wilson and Whitehouse, despite long productive careers, clearly regard their own early experiences in the field as being formative and of immense value for their later research. Based on our own experiences, we would fully echo this sentiment. However, the note of caution we wish to raise arises precisely due to the romantic allure of the field and the extra credibility that (often) accompanies ‘field site’ data. Although the unpredictable nature of field research can leave those trained in traditional tightly controlled laboratory studies feeling very uncomfortable, it is paradoxically the case that field research which is cross-cultural, and includes non-WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialised Rich & Developed) samples is accorded a certain level of prestige and attention. At the time of writing, google scholar records 2247 citations for Henrich et al.’s paradigmatic 2001 paper in this mould and 1062 citations for a 2006 follow up on costly punishment. Admittedly these were ground-breaking papers, but the point we wish to emphasis is that while there remains steadfast opposition to field site studies in certain quarters, in many respects the battle for the need for field-based research is a battle which has already been won. And the interest in Henrich et al.’s papers reflect that. But the increasing prestige for studies with diverse field site research also brings with it potential risks. The first is a point raised by traditional social and cultural anthropologists, that empirically-minded researchers occasionally seek to extract data from a field site a) without being willing to put the necessary time into understanding the local context and b) with little thought of ‘giving back’ to the community, except maybe through acknowledgements in papers that most of their participants will never read. The unofficial term for this is “helicopter research” because it involves parachuting in and then quickly departing from a research site (see Flicker et al. 2007). This is a serious issue and is one of the reasons that attempting to develop genuine collaborations with anthropologists and other experts who engage in long-term research is essential for those who may be new to ‘field site’ based research and do not have contacts with a targeted community/area. Opportunistic short-term collaborations are sometimes appropriate, but we argue that the standard procedure should be to develop long term relationships and a deeper personal familiarity with any field site that is the subject of research. There also needs to be efforts made to offer meaningful benefits to the communities studied, where this is possible. Compensating participants for their time is a basic requirement, but there are many other less-direct ways to provide something valuable to communities without compromising research ethics. For example, when collecting responses for an online survey on ritualised promotional experiences amongst Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) practitioners, we also collected more general information about training experiences and then presented the information as infographics on a freely accessible website (www.bjjsurveys.com). This was warmly received by the wider BJJ community and entailed no substantial financial cost. This is not a call to adopt the advocacy model widely found in social and cultural anthropology, which brings with it the potential for a host of conflicts of interest, rather it is to advocate that as a field we should seek to early on establish good standards of practice. Another general risk of field site research relates to the eventual presentation of research and the potential increase in researcher degrees of freedom that uncontrolled field environments provide. Consider, for example, the image below: This is an isolated booth we built in the corner of Daishoin, a Shingon Buddhist temple in Japan to enable participants to take part in a simple economic task designed to measure trust. Upon completing our survey, participants were escorted to the booth to collect a small monetary reward for taking part. Before entering, they were instructed to select one of two envelopes: the first had included a set amount of money (300 Yen) and the second an amount divided by another attendee at the festival which could range from (0-1000 Yen). The rationale for the task is that if the participant trusts that the other festival attendee was fair then they should expect them to have split the 1000 Yen award evenly, meaning that there should be 500 Yen in the envelope (the other attendee took the remainder for themselves) and that it is therefore the more attractive choice. Alternatively, if the participant suspects that the other attendee would have been greedy and took more than 700 Yen for themselves, then they should select the other guaranteed amount envelope which they know contains 300 Yen. The image above could easily be presented in an article as evidence that we built a semi-controlled, private, and somewhat sterile environment during a busy firewalking festival. But that would be misleading. For a start, it would ignore that directly facing the boxes was the following image: Not exactly a neutral environment, especially with the claims made about eye-spots and prosociality. However, that’s not all. Here’s another shot of the outside of the ‘booth’, which you might note contains a rather prominent picture of the Dalai Lama, a figure prominently associated with moral behaviour. These are the kind of environmental details which are very difficult to avoid when collecting data in a Buddhist temple, but they could easily be omitted from a journal article. What could also be omitted is that it became clear during data collection, based on what many respondents said when inside/leaving the booth, that they were trying to select the envelope with the lowest amount to be more generous or not appear greedy. Following the logic of the trust task, such a response technically indicates the participant has less trust in other festival attendees, but this was clearly not the motivating factor for these participants. And this is a serious problem because the trust task protocol only works if it is reasonable to expect that people are profit maximising, but this did not appear to be a valid expectation within the surrounding religious context. In addition to the issue of motivation, there was also a significant problem with comprehension. We had designed and piloted a trust task that we thought would be very simple to understand and we were collecting data in Japan, where there is a high standard of education amongst the general population. However, even with detailed written and verbal instructions, the task proved to be very confusing, with several participants exiting the booth to ask the experimenter which envelope to choose or inviting friends to join them in the private area. The point here is not to denigrate our participants, but to emphasise that even in a country with a literate, highly educated population, a simple economic behavioural task can prove very challenging to implement. For researchers working with isolated tribal communities that lack experience with currency, who rely on local translators, such issues are likely to be magnified greatly. See, for instance, the dismay of the economist Andreas Ortmann (2005) about the various ‘idiosyncrasies’ in framing, participant recruitment, and experiment instruction reported in Henrich et al. (2001). Ultimately, we did not make use of the trust task data because of the myriad of methodological issues. However, this decision itself also represents the exercise of a potentially problematic researcher degree of freedom. The non-reporting of outcomes and selection of only ‘successful’ results can be a serious problem and result in inaccurate biases seeping into the research literature. Selective reporting appears to be a significant factor in what has come to be known as the ‘replication crisis’ in psychology and other disciplines. The solution here lies both in field site researchers being honest about limitations (we intend to report the failure of the task in the final paper) and in adopting more contemporary research standards, including: the pre-registering of studies and outcomes and providing open access to data for other researchers to explore. While the above might sound negative, we would like to end our response by reiterating that we are in full agreement with both Wilson and Whitehouse’ arguments in favour of the importance of field site research and that an evolutionary perspective can serve to unite future research efforts. We believe that such an approach, if conducted with appropriate care can provide a wealth of new insights and even potentially serve as a bridge to bring together disparate disciplines. But to achieve this it will be essential to both reappraise existing social science research- regardless of its evolutionary underpinnings, and take due consideration of the methodological and ethical issues we raise above. References Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure on the modification and distortion of judgments. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership and men (pp. 177–190). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie. Atkinson, Q.D. & Whitehouse, H., 2011. The Cultural Morphospace of Ritual Form: Examining modes of religiosity cross-culturally. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(1), pp.50–62. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Oxford, England: Prentice-Hall. Conradt, L., & List, C. (2009). Group decisions in humans and animals: a survey. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 364(1518), 719–42. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human relations, 7(2), 117-140. Flicker, S., Travers, R., Guta, A., McDonald, S., & Meagher, A. (2007). Ethical dilemmas in community-based participatory research: Recommendations for institutional review boards. Journal of Urban Health84(4), 478-493. Gelfand, M. J., et al. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study. Science, 332(6033), 1100-1104. Gray, R. D., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2003). Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin. Nature, 426(6965), 435-439. Henrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., Gintis, H., & McElreath, R. (2001). In search of homo economicus: behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies. The American Economic Review91(2), 73-78. Henrich, J. et al., 2006. Costly punishment across human societies. Science, 312(5781), pp.1767– 70. Kameda, T., Wisdom, T., Toyokawa, W., & Inukai, K. (2012). Is consensus-seeking unique to humans? A selective review of animal group decision-making and its implications for (human) social psychology. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(5), 673-689. List, C. (2004). Democracy in animal groups: a political science perspective. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 19(4), 168-169. List, C., Elsholtz, C., & Seeley, T. D. (2009). Independence and interdependence in collective decision making: an agent-based model of nest-site choice by honeybee swarms. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 364(1518), 755-762. Mesoudi, A. (2009). How cultural evolutionary theory can inform social psychology and vice versa. Psychological review, 116(4), 929. O'Brien, M. J., Darwent, J., & Lyman, R. L. (2001). Cladistics is useful for reconstructing archaeological phylogenies: Palaeoindian points from the southeastern United States. Journal of Archaeological Science, 28(10), 1115-1136. Ortmann, A. (2005). Field experiments in economics: Some methodological caveats. Field experiments in economics. Elsevier JAI, Amsterdam, 51-70. Sumpter, D. J., & Pratt, S. C. (2009). Quorum responses and consensus decision making. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 364(1518), 743-753. Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., Oishi, S., Shimin, C., Duan, D., Lan, X., & Kitayama, S. (2014). Large-scale psychological differences within China explained by rice versus wheat agriculture. Science, 344(6184), 603-608. Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q. D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R. D. (2016). Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies. Nature, 532(7598), 228-231. Wolf, M., Kurvers, R. H., Ward, A. J., Krause, S., & Krause, J. (2013). Accurate decisions in an uncertain world: collective cognition increases true positives while decreasing false positives. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 280(1756), 20122777. [post_title] => Developing the Field Site Concept for the Study of Cultural Evolution: The Promise and the Perils [post_excerpt] => Kavanagh and Nakawake do not provide an in-depth critical review of the target articles but instead offer, first, a complementary recommendation and, second, an important note of caution concerning ‘field site’ research. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => developing-the-field-site-concept-for-the-study-of-cultural-evolution-the-promise-and-the-perils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-28 14:57:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-28 19:57:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://evolution-institute.org/?post_type=commentary&p=120005936 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => commentary [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 120005934 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2016-12-27 13:46:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-27 18:46:24 [post_content] =>   The essays by Wilson and Whitehouse introduce an important topic that may lay the groundwork for new approaches to the study of cultural evolution: the development of field sites specifically for investigating cultural evolution. Wilson’s vision for such field sites is modeled on those used in evolutionary biology and ecology—specific locations of biological diversity that are studied over time by multiple researchers. Whitehouse looks toward a slightly different model, one more common in anthropology and psychology, in which multiple investigators located in different sites examine cross-cultural variation and change in coordination. Both are valuable models. Wilson’s site-specific model provides a diachronic perspective by examining stability and change in one location over multiple time periods, but is limited in the range of variation that can be observed from this one site. Whitehouse’s approach provides a broad view of variation, but does not provide the time depth that a site-specific approach does. An obvious thing to do is to combine these two—to have a range of focal sites with good temporal depth that can be compared to one another, and, as Wilson points out, this is precisely were ecology is heading. How might we create field sites with both time depth and broad regional coverage? One model is provided by Seshat, which is attempting to use historical and archaeological data from 30 specific locations to examine cultural stability and change over long periods of time (Turchin et al. 2015). This is a model that has already been used in archaeology and history, and by combining the two Seshat will provide an extremely useful resource for the study of cultural evolution. However, Seshat is focused on gathering and coordinating extant data, not on collecting new data. How might we create a field site concept for cultural evolution that provides depth and breadth but that is based on new data? Looking back a century (actually a bit more—to 1896) Franz Boas, in his widely-misread but seminal work on “The Limitations of the Comparative Method in Anthropology”, suggests that in order to understand general “laws” of cultural development anthropology “must not confine itself to comparing [cultures], but wherever such is feasible it must compare processes of growth, and these can be discovered by means of studies of the cultures of small geographical areas.”(p.907-908). What Boas suggested were regional studies of cultural evolution (“development” he called it, as “evolution” implied materialist theories of progress at the time), and he attempted such a study on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, Vancouver Island did not (and still does not) have a fully explored archaeological record, so time depth is only partially available, even though the historical and ethnographic records are exceptionally rich. Other areas of the world, for example the Southwestern United States and Mesoamerica, have rich ethnographic, historical, archaeological records that could be harvested to create the basis of a regional field site. Those regions have extant indigenous populations as well, and they might serve as informants for new investigations such as those discussed by Whitehouse. What I suggest as a field site for the study of cultural evolution, then, is really a “field region” with multiple sites in a small area that provides both time depth and cultural variation. Perhaps a city like Binghamton, with a diverse population in a relatively small area, is an example of a “field region”. But Binghamton does not have the time depth that I think is necessary for a true cultural evolution field site (although as an archaeologist my view of time depth is probably much greater than either Wilson’s or Whitehouse’s). So, while I agree that the idea of a field site for cultural evolution is an excellent one, I think we need more discussion to determine exactly what such a field site would look like. Would it be a location, a region, or a group of spatially dispersed sites? What time depth would be desired? What degree of cultural variation would the site need to encompass? These are all answerable questions, and I hope that in time we will address them in order to initiate a serious effort to develop one or more cultural evolution field sites. Literature Cited 1. Boas, Franz. 1896. The Limitations of the Comparative Method in Anthropology. Science 4 (18 DEC): 901-908. 2. Turchin, Peter et al. 2015. Seshat: The Global History Databank. Cliodynamics 6:77-107. Image: Frances Densmore recording Blackfoot chief Mountain Chief for the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1916. [post_title] => On Field Sites for the Study of Cultural Evolution [post_excerpt] => How might we create a field site concept for cultural evolution that provides depth and breadth but that is based on new data? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => on-field-sites-for-the-study-of-cultural-evolution [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-27 13:46:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-27 18:46:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://evolution-institute.org/?post_type=commentary&p=120005934 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => commentary [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 120005887 [post_author] => 23 [post_date] => 2016-12-13 16:17:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-13 21:17:44 [post_content] => A recent book featuring David Sloan Wilson bears the title Darwin’s Bridge: Uniting the Humanities and Sciences.1 As David shows convincingly here in “The One Culture,” evolution has built a bridge between the humanities and the sciences. Modern evolutionary theory shows that inheritance is not only genetic, but also environmental, social and cultural, yet it also shows that these powerful non-genetic forms of inheritance still need genes to explain them. But this way of crossing between the sciences and the humanities is a pontoon bridge, assembled from the sciences side. Although it has now reached the humanities bank, very few on that side of the river of ideas have any interest in venturing onto the bridge, let alone spending much time working the rich alluvium on the other shore. Why? What can be done to establish a more secure, wider, more enticing bridge between the sciences and the humanities? Most in the humanities take culture for granted, seeing it as an all-purpose explicans, not an explicandum. They do not consider that culture needs to or can be explained. Culture, for them, is simply the defining term of humanity, as life is the defining term of biology. Many in the humanities do not know that culture exists outside of humans, and that the special conditions of human culture therefore need to be explained. So long as local cultural factors can account for the phenomenon of interest, some particular artistic, historical, philosophical or religious development, a humanist may well think, why do I need to examine culture in general, any more than a biologist needs to examine life in general? If my problem is understanding the construction of a certain scene in Hamlet, then Shakespeare’s drawing on his knowledge of his own theatre company, on his own earlier scenic practices, on the structural principles of the Elizabethan stage, on the revenge tragedy genre, and on the particular hints provided in Belleforest’s prose story of Hamblet, surely suffice. Humanists with an interest in evolution need to show that this is not enough, that explanations entirely within a cultural moment leave large gaps. Purely local cultural factors in the construction of, say, Act II Scene ii of Hamlet do not explain why the scene has such power across time, place and media, and despite such obstacles as the complexity and obsolescence of much of its language. A recently fashionable and purely cultural explanation for Shakespeare’s standing has been the rise of British power and the country’s promotion of its cultural heritage. That hardly explains the difference between the reach of Shakespeare and that of his contemporary and countryman Ben Jonson, or between that of Shakespeare and of his contemporary in another powerful state, Cervantes. Humanists need to draw on principles of psychology and biology that transcend local cultural variation. As Patrick Colm Hogan notes, “in order to gain any understanding of cultural particularity, we necessarily presuppose a background of commonality. . . the study of universality and the study of cultural particularity are not contradictory, but complementary.”2 Evolutionary biology and psychology can explain the dynamics and effects of prestige, and thereby deepen or challenge the British imperialist cultural explanation for the enduring success of Shakespeare and Hamlet. They can also offer new levels of explanation for the behaviors depicted, the inferences made and the emotions aroused in Act II Scene ii and therefore the scene’s relevance to audiences across times and places, and for the very relationship of relevance to meaning.3 They can explain the power of social learning, and the principle of blind variation and selective retention, in Shakespeare’s drawing on sources and generating ideas,4 and the pressure to reduce costs and raise benefits in artistic invention as in other facets of life’s competitive pressures.5 To generalize: humanities scholars already crossing the evolutionary bridge to the sciences need to produce detailed accounts of particular cultural phenomena that show how at every level of explanation incorporating evolutionary principles allows more options, more explanatory mechanisms and models, more comparisons and tests. At the same time we can show that these broad evolutionary principles and results are not enough by themselves to explain particulars: we need also the precise input of local contexts and individual human details as well as general principles. Incorporating evolutionary perspectives does not remove the need for fine-grained humanistic scholarship and honed disciplinary expertise. But we could say: “Humanists of the world, unite with scientists, you have nothing to lose but your blinkers.” Another way to strengthen and broaden the bridge between the sciences and the humanities and to multiply the traffic across it is to recognize that science is itself a branch of the humanities. No species on earth but Homo sapiens has science. Science depends on deep traditions of human inquiry, on the cooperative and competitive and cumulative problem-solving ability of human individuals and groups. What could be more thoroughly imbued in humanity, and therefore more worthy of study by the humanities? That does not mean a return to the science wars, to attempts to prove that science is just another story, another cultural product with all the limitations of its local origins. Science has no guarantee of truth, but by finding new ways to test its claims against evidence and by discarding its mistakes it has enabled us to keep on discovering.6 The humanities, and not only the philosophy and history of science, can analyze the social conditions that have enabled science to flourish and to have progressively more impact on our species and our world. And as science becomes an increasingly central object of study within the humanities, the humanities need at the same time to make foraging forays across the bridge, to harvest the power of evolutionary theory to explain the deep roots of science in human hyper-social learning and cumulative culture, and the role of blind variation and selective retention within ideas as well as within organisms. We can also cross this bridge in the opposite direction. To be comprehensive, science needs to explain not only the continuities and immutable regularities of the physical world but also the emergence of novelty, including of life, sociality, culture, and the uniquely human cultural world, not least the cultural phenomenon of science itself. Many in the humanities have resisted science’s explaining the universe in cosmological and evolutionary terms that displace earth and humanity from the center, and in materialistic and deterministic terms that seem to leave too little room for human subjectivity and freedom. But the existence of human cultural achievements and the expansion of human freedoms and capacities in the arts, in social life, and in science and technology, present the most complex challenge we can yet envisage to the explanatory power of science. A science that cannot explain novelty, and its expanding dimensions, remains seriously incomplete. Seen from one end of the bridge, the humanities come within the purview of science, and from the other, science lies within the domain of the humanities. The traffic between the two banks can only increase. At present it remains a trickle, and mainly in one direction. At least the most common response in the humanities is no longer to want to burn the bridge to the sciences or to sink the nearest pontoons. Instead of silence, swift dismissal, or straw-men attacks, those in the humanities who try to bring evolution to bear on their subject now receive considered critiques and invitations to present their case. A major reason that few humanists have stepped onto the new bridge to the sciences is that science in general and biology in particular have seemed to provide ways of valorizing social inequalities of race and sex and power. Science has been used in that manner, but then so have the arts and the humanities: consider the names Plato, Hegel, Wagner, Heidegger, de Man. And although science often seems to be accorded an air of authority, it remains at its core deeply anti-authoritarian: evidence and argument can overturn even the most established intellectual “authority,” an Aristotle, a Ptolemy, a Galen or a Newton. Evolution does tie life to the past, but it also predicts and can even encourage change, as in David Sloan Wilson’s own work,7 or the evolutionary economics of Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis and Robert Frank.8,9,10 And if science is viewed not as a study primarily of “eternal” or “timeless” laws but of the growing universe, of emergence, if science learns how to amplify change through the power of explanation, as Janet Radcliffe Richards and David Deutsch suggest,11,12 humanists who fear science as a threat to human values and prospects need to think again. It is particularly unfortunate that from the tangled bank of the humanities the bridge that evolution offers has often been viewed as a conduit for ruthless competition. But in fact evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology, political studies and economics have focused much more intently on cooperation than have their non-evolutionary counterparts. Multilevel selection offers a way of explaining both the promise and the strain of higher levels of cooperation, including in the ultrasociality of humans—without which the humanities would have no subject. There have been few major transitions in evolution, and none of them has been easy, but all have immensely expanded the possibilities of life. Human culture constitutes the latest major transition, and at its peak, in the arts, the humanities, and the human and physical sciences, will be able to do still more as these different aspects of human inquiry learn to work more together, while not blurring their distinctions, in order to nourish, sustain, enrich, and explain one another. Bibliography 1. Carroll, Joseph, Dan P. McAdams and E.O. Wilson, eds., Darwin’s Bridge: Uniting the Humanities and Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, 223-244. 2. Hogan, Patrick Colm. The Mind and Its Stories: Narrative Universals and Human Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2013. 3. Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. 4. Simonton, Dean Keith. Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 5. Boyd, Brian. On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009. 6. Popper, Karl. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Rev. ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978. 7. Wilson, David Sloan. The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Change My City, One Block at a Time. Boston: Little, Brown, 2011. 8. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “Why Social Preferences Matter: The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives.” Economic Journal 112 (2002), C1-C33. 9. Gintis, Herbert, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd and Ernst Fehr. Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. 10. Frank, Robert. The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. 11. Richards, Janet Radcliffe. Human Nature After Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2001. 12. Deutsch, David, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World. London: Allen Lane, 2011. [post_title] => Bridging the Humanities and the Sciences [post_excerpt] => Seen from one end of the bridge, the humanities come within the purview of science, and from the other, science lies within the domain of the humanities. The traffic between the two banks can only increase. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => bridging-the-humanities-and-the-sciences [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-13 16:17:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-13 21:17:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://evolution-institute.org/?post_type=commentary&p=120005887 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => commentary [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 7 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 120005971 [post_author] => 35 [post_date] => 2017-01-02 07:15:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-02 12:15:20 [post_content] => In the essays presented by Whitehouse and Wilson, both authors present an account on developing field sites for studying cultural evolution. The target essays are presented from the viewpoints of an evolutionary biologist (David Sloan Wilson) and an anthropologist (Harvey Whitehouse). While I am generally supportive of their proposition, there are also logistical concerns with maintaining field sites that should be discussed. This commentary is presented from the viewpoint of a cognitive anthropologist and a recent doctoral graduate who, despite a relatively short career, has conducted her own research at multiple field sites. There is a particular point, stressed by Whitehouse, which I believe should be a focus of future research projects. Namely, evolutionary approaches should be the theoretical foundation for the investigations at field sites such as those described by Whitehouse and Wilson. Whitehouse has noted that the differences between Psychology (EP) and Evolutionary Theories of Culture (ETC) may not be that great. This is not a new stance, as he has argued for it before (Whitehouse, 2004). Synthesizing the different evolutionary approaches to culture should be a target for projects such as those outlined in the target articles. This is because finding a theoretical framework that is appropriate for investigating the wide variety of cultures targeted by projects such as AnthroLab must walk a fine line between generalizability and contextual sensitivity. However, as outlined here and elsewhere, it has been noted that both EP and ETC have their merits in helping to develop new hypotheses for research. Although many question the utility of ETC as anything more than an analogy to biological evolution (Knudt, 2015), the general focus of cultural evolution on information that is socially learned provides a focus to what it is about human social groups that make them unique. This focus on unique socially learned behaviours can be combined with evolutionary psychology, which posits that human minds evolved in order to process such social information. By assuming that all naturally developed human minds share a suite of cognitive mechanisms which evolved to process different information—including socially transmitted information (a point stressed in earlier writing on evolutionary psychology, e.g. Tooby & Cosmides, 1992, p. 24)—we can use evolutionary theory as a foundation for the study of culture. I find the proposition of synthesizing EP and ETC quite persuasive, as I have embraced it in my own research. During my most recent fieldwork, I studied how the development of executive function and the ability to delay gratification in children can be manipulated by adopting a ritual stance or instrumental stance (Rybanska, McKay, Jong, & Whitehouse, in press). Briefly, individuals adopt an instrumental stance towards learning instrumental skills, assuming that the modelled actions are performed in the service of a specific concrete goal in accordance with normal expectations about physical causation (e.g. washing hands). On the other hand, individuals adopt a ritual stance towards learning conventional, ritualised behaviours, i.e. actions are executed in a certain way simply because it is demanded by a convention, with no clear links between actions and goals (e.g. ritual washing). These different ways of approaching actions (as instrumental or ritual) should have effects on our cognitive mechanisms. More specifically, because a ritual stance demands close attention to actions and the necessity to perform these actions correctly, it puts greater demands on executive function. This generated the hypothesis that performing actions that promoted the adoption of a ritual stance—as opposed to an instrumental stance—should have positive effects on executive function. I took this hypothesis to not one, but two field sites: Slovakia and Vanuatu. What I found was that adopting a ritual stance increased executive function and the ability to delay gratification in both field sites, and there were no significant differences between the two (Rybanska, et al., in press). In this way, one can argue that the cognitive underpinnings of executive function, the ability to delay gratification, and even those that govern the adoption of ritual or instrumental stances are likely evolved psychological mechanisms that recur cross-culturally and develop at similar points in childhood. However, it does not take a keen eye to see that there are vast differences in the rituals performed in Vanuatu and Slovakia. While most rituals in Slovakia would be familiar to anyone with basic knowledge of Central European cultures, rituals in Vanuatu can sometimes involve rare, dangerous rituals, such as land diving, where men jump from a wooden tower with only vines tied around their ankles. At the same time, some communities in Vanuatu have been exposed to European missionary efforts, and have adopted many of their ritual practices. The historical contexts that outline the shifts from one form of ritual to another can be interpreted through the lens of cultural evolution, as noted by both Whitehouse and Wilson. Although as a cognitive anthropologist I greatly appreciate both Wilson and Whitehouse stressing the importance of fieldwork, as a researcher  who operated in multiple field locations in both Europe and the South Pacific I would like to stress a logistical issue that cannot be overlooked; namely, the  issue of funding. While Wilson suggests that funding is not of utmost importance, the idea that this sort of research can be sustained at a university without funding is unrealistic. Students, particularly graduate students—who are producing much of the work in the field—cannot sustain themselves, pay the fees requested by universities, and sustain a field site without additional funding; even paying undergraduates “very affordable wages” is an additional cost not afforded to most researchers out of tenure track. Although Wilson appears to recognize that tenured faculty have certain liberties to pursue such research because they are permanently salaried, such positions are increasingly rare (The American Federation of Teachers, 2003) and currently some universities are employing as many as 70% of their employees on temporary contracts (Chakrabortty & Weale, 2016). Such a system is not conducive to setting up and sustaining field sites in and around universities. Furthermore, setting up and sustaining field sites in multiple remote locations entail additional costs of travel and lodging which are not feasible given the economic circumstances of many researchers who are not beneficiaries of research grants. As such, the sustenance of the field sites may be subject to fits and spurts of research as they fall between cracks in funding cycles. Whitehouse acknowledges that “one of the most obvious barriers to progress is funding”. However, one could add that it is not just securing funding, but the efficient and appropriate allocation of funds to sustain a project as ambitious as that outlined by Whitehouse, which involve costs such as research assistance, travel, lodging, equipment costs, and other research expenses. It is true that some research expenses can be cut down. Using my own research project as an example, I studied the vernacular language of Vanuatu (Bislama) which enabled me to not only conduct all of my research in the field without a translator and thus eliminating significant costs, but also, as an anthropologist I was able to create greater rapport with the local communities. Although this is an imperative for establishing a field site, it is being neglected by many researchers, creating distance and lost meanings between researchers and communities. From an anthropological perspective, creating bonds with the local communities is of high importance, although this is not always the case as some researchers treat local communities as merely their own personal participant pool. Logistical concerns notwithstanding, it is admirable that both Whitehouse and Wilson are emphasizing the importance of fieldwork for the study of culture. It is true that this has been underrated and neglected and many researchers have felt that field work can be replaced by lab experiments with college students. Wilson and Whitehouse are right that in order for us to understand culture, it is in relation to our environments, both biological—as stressed by evolutionary psychology—and social—as stressed by cultural evolution—and that a well validated theoretical perspective can generate insights and explanations that lab experiments alone cannot provide. References Chakrabortty, A., & Weale, S. (2016, November 16). Universities accused of ’ importing Sports Direct model ’ for lecturers ’ pay. The Guardian, p. 2. London. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/16/universities-accused-of-importing-sports-direct-model-for-lecturers-pay Kundt, R. (2015). Contemporary evolutionary theories of culture and the study of religion. London New York: Bloomsbury Academic. Rybanska, V., Mckay, R., Jong, J., & Whitehouse, H. (in press). Rituals improve children's ability to delay gratification. Child Development. The American Federation of Teachers. (2003). The Growth of Full-time Faculty Challenges for the Union (No. 36–0700). Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED497913.pdf Tooby, J & Cosmides, L. (1992). The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (eds.) The Adapted mind : evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press. Whitehouse, H. (2004). Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. Images copyrighted by Veronika Rybanska. All rights reserved.  [post_title] => Addressing the Field Site Concept: A Cognitive Anthropologist’s View [post_excerpt] => In order for us to understand culture, it is in relation to our environments, both biological—as stressed by evolutionary psychology—and social—as stressed by cultural evolution. A well validated theoretical perspective can generate insights and explanations that lab experiments alone cannot provide. 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