Working at PLEEP

Pennsylvania Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology

A small number of undergraduates work in the PLEEP lab every year. Are you interested in becoming a member of the team? The best way to become invovled is to prepare by familiarizing yourself with the underlying theoretical perspective used in research in the lab. One way to do this is to take Psychology 168, which looks at human sexuality from an evolutionary perspective. This course is taught in the Spring. Another way to do this is to read some of the foundational books and papers that underpin the discipline. Reading the papers posted on the Publications Page will bring you up to date on the specific lines of research currently being pursued at the lab. You can get a start with the Evolutionary Psychology FAQ.

There are several ways to become involved at PLEEP. You can volunteer your time and work on a research project, do an independent study (299 or 399), or, in some cases, work as a paid reserach assistant. If you think you might want to get involved, the best way to proceed is to do some of the background reading in evolutionary psychology and then email Dr. Kurzban to schedule a meeting. Although we would love to be able to accomodate everyone's desire to join, unfortunately space is limited in the lab, and we appreciate your understanding.

Foundational Readings

Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (1992). The psychological foundations of culture. In J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pinker, S. (1997). How the mind works. New York: W. W. Norton.

Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (1992). Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Williams, G. C. (1966). Adaptation and natural selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Following the Field

You can stay up to date with the research in Evolutionary Psychology by reading recent issues of the central journals in the field, especially Evolution and Human Behavior (available online to Penn students), the flagship journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, the main academic organization for evolutionary psychologists. Human Nature and Evolutionary Psychology also publish papers central to the field. One of the best ways to learn about evolutionary psychology is to attend the annual conference. Information about each year's conference, as well as other news, is updated here.

Additional Readings in Evolutionary Psychology

More readings will be added here. For the moment, an excellent list is maintained here.

Scheduling a meeting

Please forgive this somewhat condescending section. If you would like to schedule a meeting with Dr. Kurzban, if you cannot attend his scheduled office hours (usually 9-10am on Wednesdays), then the best way to proceed is to send an email indicating why you would like to meet and three or four blocks of at least half an hour that you are free. He'll get back to you, indicating which time he has available.

Letters of Recommendation

Dr. Kurzban is frequently asked to write letters of recommendation. Tim Ketelaar has a good page that indicates how to proceed (though you can ignore the prerequistes he indicates on the page).

Naming Files

A minor point. To maintain order and harmony in file naming, the following convention should be used to name files when collaborating with Dr. Kurzban and/or his students:

[Project Name][date MM DD YY] [initials] [.file extension]

Where [Project Name] is the designation for the project you're working on, [date MM DD YY] is the date the file you're sending was revised and [initials] are your initials, indicating who made the last revisions to the file. So, if I updated a file about a project called TPP-E (Third Party Punishment - Empathy), on July 4th, 2006, it would be called TPP-E 07 04 06 rk.doc