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Social-Ecological Psychology Colloquium

April 1, 2013

In 'Beyond Nature vs. Nurture,' a panel of experts will discuss how the human mind is shaped by and shapes our 'social habitats.' Learn about the interdependency between ecology and cognition; the link between geography and cultural differences; and the relationship between culture, human health, and the environment.

Thursday, April 4
8:30 a.m –noon
Grey Rock Room
Lory Student Center

Mind: Shaped by environment

Environmental and social scientists are collaborating to understand linkages between ecological surroundings and human psychology.

This interdisciplinary event will provide insight from international experts who are pioneering new understandings of how the human mind is shaped by people’s environment.

The colloquium is free and open to the public.

Ecology and cognition

Learn about interdependencies of ecology and cognition; the link between geography and cultural differences; and the relationship between culture, human health, and the environment.

This colloquium is designed to kick off discussions about the development of a Social-Ecological Psychology unit here at Colorado State University.

8:30 a.m. - Ecology, Culture, and the Brain: An Approach of Cultural Neuroscience

Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan, professor of psychology, and director, Culture and Cognition Program

Cultural neuroscience is an emerging field that examines the interdependencies among ecology, culture, mind, and the brain. By investigating brain plasticity in varying social and ecological contexts, it seeks to overcome the nature-nurture dichotomy.

Kitayama will present a brief overview of the field and illustrate its potential by reviewing evidence for cultural variations in brain mechanisms underlying cognition, emotion, and motivation.

9:30 a.m. - Geographic Variation in the Prevalence of Personality Traits

Jason Rentfrow, University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College; University Senior Lecturer and director of studies in Politics, Psychology, and Sociology

There is overwhelming evidence from research in the geographical sciences that the attitudes, values, and behaviors of Americans are regionally clustered.

In this presentation, Rentfrow will address regional differences in psychology, provide evidence of personality differences across the United States, offer potential explanations for those differences, and show that regional personality differences are linked to a variety of important geographical indicators.

His talk will consider how a geographical perspective on psychological processes can inform theory and research in psychology and related disciplines.

10:20 a.m. - Multilevel Models in Cross-Cultural Psychology

Fons J.R. Van de Vijver, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, North-West University, South Africa, and University of Queensland, professor of cross-cultural psychology

This presentation will outline the many opportunities and challenges inherent to the use of multilevel models in cross-cultural psychology. The emphasis will be on the link between individual-level variables, such as health and well-being, with broader ecosystem-level variables.

The most important conceptual issues to be discussed will be related to aggregation, or using psychological variables measured at the individual-level at a higher level and the possible shifts in meaning of results when these data are used at different levels.

The most important operational issues are: sample size at the highest level, how to meaningfully link individual and ecological level data, ways to establish equivalence of scales, and why so little variance is often explained at the highest level.

Health Commentary by Linda L. Caldwell - Distinguished Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management and Human Development and Family Studies, Director, College of Health and Human Development Global Leadership Initiative, Penn State University

Natural Resources Commentary by David C. Fulton - Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Assistant Leader, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota


This interdisciplinary event is presented by Warner College of Natural Resources’ Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, and CSU's Department of Psychology.

Event Contact: Esther Duke
Phone: (970) 491-2542

Contact: Bryony Wardell
Phone: (970) 491-2542