A biocultural approach to the study of time preference:  Life history theory meets developmental psychology

Deborah Schechter, Binghamton University

Monday, September 26th, 2016

5:15-6:15 pm



About the seminar

Why do some people engage in risk-taking behaviors while others do not? Research in this area has found that when future circumstances are uncertain, individuals are likely to steeply discount the future and participate in behaviors that have short-term pay-offs. Preference for long-term payoffs, however, is associated with environmental stability. But where do these “time preferences” come from? Decision-making around risky behaviors is a complex phenomenon and is likely influenced by multiple inputs --biological, psychological and social. In order to pinpoint which factors are likely to promote or protect against risk, I first discuss a theoretical framework that draws on life history theory and developmental psychology. Within this framework, I then locate mechanisms that internalize environmental uncertainty, including a measure of biological stress. Finally, I present results from a study done in collaboration with a Native American community on stress, coping, and attitudes towards risk.


About the speaker

Deborah Schechter received her PhD in biocultural anthropology from the University of Washington. Her research interests are in factors that promote and protect against adolescent risk-taking. In her work she studies how aspects of developmental environments influence biological stress and attitudes towards risk. She has conducted research in collaboration with Native American communities and is currently a visiting professor in the Department of Anthropology at Binghamton University.


For more information, contact:

David Sloan Wilson, EvoS Director

Susan V. Ryan, EvoS Coordinator

evos @ binghamton.edu

Last Updated: 9/21/16