Barrett, Louise

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    Individual-level movement bias leads to the formation of higher-order social structure in a mobile group of baboons
    (The Royal Society Publishing, 2017) Bonnell, Tyler R.; Clarke, Parry M.; Henzi, Peter; Barrett, Louise
    In mobile social groups, influence patterns driving group movement can vary between democratic and despotic. The arrival at any single pattern of influence is thought to be underpinned by both environmental factors and group composition. To identify the specific patterns of influence driving travel decision-making in a chacma baboon troop, we used spatially explicit data to extract patterns of individual movement bias. We scaled these estimates of individual-level bias to the level of the group by constructing an influence network and assessing its emergent structural properties. Our results indicate that there is heterogeneity in movement bias: individual animals respond consistently to particular group members, and higher-ranking animals are more likely to influence the movement of others. This heterogeneity resulted in a group-level network structure that consisted of a single core and two outer shells. Here, the presence of a core suggests thatasetofhighlyinterdependentanimalsdroveroutinegroup movements. These results suggest that heterogeneity at the individual level can lead to group-level influence structures, and that movement patterns in mobile social groups can add to the exploration of both how these structures develop (i.e. mechanistic aspects) and what consequences they have for individual- and group-level outcomes (i.e. functional aspects).
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    From computers to cultivation: reconceptualizing evolutionary psychology
    (Frontiers Media, 2014) Barrett, Louise; Pollet, Thomas V.; Stulp, Gert
    Does evolutionary theorizing have a role in psychology?This is a more contentious issue than one might imagine, given that, as evolved creatures, the answer must surely be yes. The contested nature of evolutionary psychology lies not in our status as evolved beings, but in the extent to which evolutionary ideas add value to studies of human behavior, and the rigor with which these ideas are tested. This, in turn, is linked to the framework in which particular evolutionary ideas are situated. While the framing of the currentresearchtopicplacesthebrain-as-computermetaphorinoppositiontoevolutionary psychology, the most prominent school of thought in this field (born out of cognitive psychology, and often known as the Santa Barbara school) is entirely wedded to the computational theory of mind as an explanatory framework. Its unique aspect is to argue that the mind consists of a large number of functionally specialized (i.e., domain-specific) computational mechanisms, or modules (the massive modularity hypothesis). Far from offering an alternative to, or an improvement on, the current perspective, we argue that evolutionary psychology is a mainstream computational theory, and that its arguments for domain-specificityoftenrestonshakypremises.Wethengoontosuggestthatthevarious forms of e-cognition (i.e., embodied, embedded, enactive) represent a true alternative to standard computational approaches, with an emphasis on “cognitive integration” or the “extended mind hypothesis” in particular.We feel this offers the most promise for human psychology because it incorporates the social and historical processes that are crucial to human “mind-making” within an evolutionarily informed framework. In addition to linking to other research areas in psychology, this approach is more likely to form productive links tootherdisciplineswithinthesocialsciences, notleastbyencouragingahealthypluralism in approach.
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    Population ecology of vervet monkeys in a high latitude, semi-arid riparian woodland
    (South African National Parks, Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Parke, 2013) Pasternak, Graham M.; Brown, Leslie R.; Kienzle, Stefan W.; Fuller, Andrea; Barrett, Louise; Henzi, Peter
    Narrow riparian woodlands along non-perennial streams have made it possible for vervet monkeys to penetrate the semi-arid karoo ecosystem of South Africa, whilst artificial water points have more recently allowed these populations to colonize much more marginal habitat away from natural water sources. In order to better understand the sequelae of life in these narrow, linear woodlands for historically ‘natural’ populations and to test the prediction that they are ecologically stressed, we determined the size of troops in relation to their reliance on natural and artificial water sources and collected detailed data from two river-centred troops on activity, diet and ranging behaviour over an annual cycle. In comparison to other populations, our data indicate that river-centred troops in the karoo were distinctive primarily both for their large group sizes and, consequently, their large adult cohorts, and in the extent of home range overlap in what is regarded as a territorial species. Whilst large group size carried the corollary of increased day journey length and longer estimated interbirth intervals, there was little other indication of the effects of ecological stress on factors such as body weight and foraging effort. We argue that this was a consequence of the high density of Acacia karroo, which accounted for a third of annual foraging effort in what was a relatively depauperate floristic habitat. We ascribed the large group size and home range overlap to constraints on group fission. Conservation implications: The distribution of group sizes, sampled appropriately across habitats within a conservation area, will be of more relevance to management than average values, which may be nothing more than a statistical artefact, especially when troop sizes are bimodally distributed.
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    Facial-based ethnic recognition: insights from two closely related by ethnically distinct groups
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2009) Coetzee, Vinet; Greeff, Jaco M.; Barrett, Louise; Henzi, Peter
    Previous studies on facial recognition have considered widely separated populations, both geographically and culturally, making it hard to disentangle effects of familiarity with an ability to identify ethnic groups per se.We used data from a highly intermixed population of African peoples from South Africa to test whether individuals from nine different ethnic groups could correctly differentiate between facial images of two of these, the Tswana and Pedi. Individuals could not assign ethnicity better than expected by chance, and there was no significant difference between genders in accuracy of assignment. Interestingly, we observed a trend that individuals of mixed ethnic origin were better at assigning ethnicity to Pedi and Tswanas, than individuals from less mixed backgrounds. This result supports the hypothesis that ethnic recognition is based on the visual expertise gained with exposure to different ethnic groups.
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    Common HLA alleles associated with health, but not with facial attractiveness
    (Public Library of Science, 2007) Coetzee, Vinet; Barrett, Louise; Greeff, Jaco M.; Henzi, Peter; Perrett, David I.; Wadee, Ahmed A.
    Three adaptive hypotheses have been proposed to explain the link between the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) genes, health measures and facial attractiveness: inbreeding avoidance, heterozygote advantage and frequency-dependent selection. This paper reports findings that support a new hypothesis relating HLA to health. We suggest a new method to quantify the level of heterozygosity. HLA heterozygosity did not significantly predict health measures in women, but allele frequency did. Women with more common HLA alleles reported fewer cold and flu bouts per year, fewer illnesses in the previous year and rated themselves healthier than women with rare alleles. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show a positive correlation between HLA allele frequency and general health measures. We propose that certain common HLA alleles confer resistance to prevalent pathogens. Nevertheless, neither HLA heterozygosity nor allele frequency significantly predicted how healthy or attractive men rated the female volunteers. Three non-mutually exclusive explanations are put forward to explain this finding.