May 4, 2011

Can Robots Show That Kin Selection Explains Altruism?
If evolution is all about the survival of the fittest, then why do animals from bees to people help others when it can hurt them or their chances to reproduce? Simulations of miniature robots that “evolve” helping behaviors have now provided a possible answer, confirming a 47-year-old theory that recently has come under attack: We help those who are most related to us because they are able to pass some of our genes to the next generation. (Elizabeth Pennisi, ScienceNOW)

Your Past Happiness
Extroverts are the cheeriest personality type, and a new study finds that the root of their happiness may be in their memories. People who are extroverted remember the past in a more positive light than other personality types, researchers report in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. This rose-tinged viewpoint explains much of the happiness gap between extroverts and people who are neurotic, a personality trait marked by anxiety and irritability. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Who Cries When—and Why
Some new research efforts are helping to piece together the biological and cultural forces behind crying, showing that there are different types of tears as well as differences in the way men and women cry. (Katherine Rosman, The Wall Street Journal)

Chimps Appear to Have the Perception of Self-Agency
Chimps playing a video game can apparently recognize which characters they control, a feature of self-awareness that could shed light on the evolution of the self in humans, researchers said. (Charles Choi, LiveScience)

Q&A
Michael McCullough

Michael McCullough, a psychology professor and director of the Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory at the University of Miami, as well as the author of Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct, explains that the impulse for revenge evolved as a simple cost-benefit equation and why it is best served cold—but not too cold. (Katherine Harmon, Scientific American)

Category: Field Notes

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