Reproduction, Parenting, and Health
Using the theories and methods of evolutionary behavioral ecology, I am exploring human reproductive and parental decisions, and their consequences for maternal and child health.
This work includes theoretical and empirical components.
The theoretical component is framed by parental investment, parent-offspring conflict, and life history theory.
The empirical component includes quantitative ethnographic research among the Karo Batak of North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Funding has been provided by NSF.
- Kushnick G, submitted. Access to resources shapes maternal decision making:
Evidence from a factorial vignette experiment.
- Kushnick G, 2012. Helper effects on breeder allocations to direct care.
American Journal of Human Biology 24: 545-550.
- Kushnick G, 2010. Resource competition and reproduction in Karo Batak villages.
Human Nature 21: 62-81.
- Kushnick G, 2009. Parental supply and offspring demand amongst Karo Batak
mothers and children. Journal of Biosocial Science 41: 183-193.
Evolution of Social Norms & Institutions
In this project, my aim is to examine the adaptive features of human society. To what extent are norms and institutions shaped by local environmental conditions, and to what extent are they constrained by history?
How might we understand the coevolution of social norms and behavior -- e.g., why do cultural preferences exist even if, behaviorally, they are not followed?
This has been a longstanding problem in sociocultural anthropology but has yet to be examined through the lens of evolutionary biology.
I addressing these issues with a number of analytical techniques, including ethnography, historical demography, cultural phylogenetics, and modeling.
This project has been funded by UCLA's Center for Culture, Brain, and Development.
I have been awarded a Fulbright Scholars Award to support 5 months of fieldwork in 2014.
- Kushnick G, Gray R, Jordan F, submitted. The sequential evolution of land tenure norms.
- Kushnick G, Fessler DMT, 2012. Misconstruals miss the mark. Curr Anth, 53, 136-137.
- Kushnick G, Fessler DMT, 2011. 2011. Karo Batak cousin marriage, cosocialization,
and the Westermarck hypothesis. Current Anthropology 52: 443-448.
- Daniel M.T. Fessler (Anthropology, UCLA)
- Fiona Jordan (Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Bristol)
- Russell Gray (Psychology, University of Auckland)
Biocultural Evolution of Mating Preferences and Displays
This new project examines the biological and cultural evolution of mating preferences and displays.
The project has empirical and theoretical elements, including experimentation and game-theoretic modeling.
- Kushnick G, in prep. Generalization and the adaptive value of mate-choice copying.
- Kushnick G, 2013. Why do the Karo Batak prefer women with big feet? Flexible mating strategies and the notion that one size fits all. Human Nature, in press.
Collaborative Cross-Cultural Studies
I am working with scholars from a number of disciplines -- e.g., anthropology, psychology, and philosophy -- to design and test hypotheses with cross-cultural data.
For example I am the primary field researcher for Indonesia, collecting data among the Karo Batak, on the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council's Culture & Mind Project.
I have also collected genetic data and data on mating strategies and attractiveness.
- Kushnick G, Chabot-Hanowell B, Kim J, Magnano V, and Oláh K, in prep. Maternal care decisions in five societies.
- Fessler DMT, Stieger S, Asaridou S, et al, 2012. Testing a postulated case of intersexual selection in humans: the role of foot size in judgments of physical attractiveness and age. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 147-164.
- van Oven, M., Hammerle, J.M., van Schoor, M., et al. 2011. Unexpected island effects at an extreme: reduced Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA diversity in Nias. Molecular Biology and Evolution 23: 297-321.