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LS15 - Week 4 notes

by: AK315

LS15 - Week 4 notes Life Science 15

GPA 3.8

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About this Document

Covers Week 4 of LS15
Life: Concepts and Issues
Professor Phelan
Class Notes
25 ?




Popular in Life: Concepts and Issues

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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by AK315 on Thursday March 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Life Science 15 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Professor Phelan in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Life: Concepts and Issues in Biology at University of California - Los Angeles.


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Date Created: 03/10/16
Week 4 Altruism Among unrelated individuals selfishness is the rule, kindness is the exception Bicycle sharing programs V1.0 - Various bike sharing programs were abandoned due to the bikes being stolen - It was an act of kindness to provide the bike but selfish humans stole them Can we see animal friendship? Co-operation among kin is almost non-existent in the animal world. Vampire bats - they suck blood for food - 10% of adults and 33% of juveniles fail to find a meal on any given night - A bat will starve to death if it doesn’t get food on more than two consecutive nights - sometimes a ‘full’ bat will sometimes regurgitate blood into a hungry bat’s mouth (it comes at a cost to the full bat but it’s ultimately helping to save it’s other friend). This is just one extremely rare example of friendship The question is ‘which bats get a free lunch from another’? - Scientists found that a bat is significantly more likely to give food to bats that have previous helped it - Bats shun individuals that do not help them. Take home message 1; Co-operation is very rare in the Animal kingdom Does unconditional love among unrelated individuals exist? Not really. What conditions are conducive to reciprocal altruism? 1. Repeated interactions
 2. High benefit to recipient relative to the cost to the actor 3. Ability to keep tabs on people (and to punish cheaters) What is the big impediment to kindness (from a biological perspective)? FREELOADERS You are very vulnerable (from a fitness perspective) when you do something kind for another person. A cheater can take the favor and run. The market share of the the cheater’s genes increases The market share of the altruist’s genes decreases Effective altruists can remember the cheaters.  What are some design features we’d expect to see in the human brain? What skills should we be good at? 1. We ought to excel at recognizing faces Vampire bats: 100 individuals  Humans: thousands! 2. We ought to be good at keeping track of cheaters 3. We ought to be voracious consumers of social information. Gossip and social information • Why are our brains so good at keeping track of social info? • Why do we keep tabs on people we will never meet Our brains were built for a world in which we encountered only a small number of people (~100) and we may have needed any one of them. Humans recognize faces, keep track of kindness/selfishness and live for a long time this makes reciprocal altruism possible. Your avenues to enhancing cooperation: • Tinkering with the perceived costs and benefits ◦ Reduce the perceived cost to the other person (example: let’s ‘swing by’ the post office and then go to lunch) ◦ Accentuate the benefit that you’ll receive from co-operation
 Our level of kindness/selfishness is influenced by how we perceive the benefit to the individual. • Distinguish cheaters and kind people ◦ Facilitating the building of reputations (allow others to know that someone is a generous person). Someone donating blood is rated as significantly more unselfish as compared to non-donors. If you increase your reputation, you’re gonna see more acts of kindness around you. ◦ Use ‘honest’ signals that can’t be faked. ◦ Keep track of and punish cheaters (cheapskate story) • Reduce the perceived vulnerability of partners ◦ Make the first step: gifts ◦ Acknowledge debts clearly and concretely  ◦ Receiving gifts an favors properly is as important as giving gifts. ▪ Thank you notes; essential ▪ acknowledgment of debts; essential ▪ eye contact; essential ▪ Use their thank you notes
 Assurances of future reciprocity are motivating (its not about the money, it’s about the reciprocation or expectation). Unexpected co-operation (Ants, bees, wasps) Female = diploid and male = haploid Daughters all get all of father’s genes and only get half of mothers genes. Coefficient of relatedness mother vs daughter = 0.5 female vs sister = 0.75 Result - better to forego reproduction and care for sisters Examples of Naked mole rats. They have: • A queen • Non-reproductive workers Even after generations and generations, all mole rats are almost all interrelated to each other with a coefficient of relatedness close to 1 Because of hundred (maybe thousands) of generations of inbreeding, all individuals in a populations have extremely high coefficient of relatedness with each other Take home message: When ‘r’ is really high (as in the cases of inbreeding), co- operation is extreme. Example of A mother’s love for a child - is it the most unconditional thing? Coefficient of relatedness is 0.5 Fetus - Pumps out a hormone (hPL) that dilates mother’s blood vessels this gives the fetus more food. Mother - Increases insulin production. This removes food from the bloodstream. Escalation ensues. Gestational diabetes occurs if mother can’t mount sufficient response to the fetus manipulation. When r<1.0 some conflict is likely. Example of WWI Truces Individual units facing each other across trenches initiated mini-truces without formal exchanges. First, one side made a gesture. However punishment for violation is necessary. Generals could not advance a war with all the truces. So they moved the soldiers around so that they didn’t have repeated interactions (a condition for reciprocation) so they didn’t have any truces because the soldiers never figured out the altruism behind it. Only happened when same troops faced each other for a long time. Ultimatum game Proposer: 35$ me 5$ you OR 15$ me 25$ you Accepter: Decides whether to accept or reject If proposer then pick generous  If responder then accept generous and accept stingy Most people accepted the stingy offers AND over 25% proposed the generous offers! contrary to what economists thought (because they believed people will always maximize utility). The results; Some people make very generous offers. Some people turn down free money. Our emotional responses - such as justice & gratitude reflect reciprocal calculations and insure fair play. 
 We didn’t accept the stingy offer because it wasn’t about the money but our perception that the other person was ‘greedy’ and that we were willing to forsake cash in order to ‘punish’ the other individuals for being greedy. When a computer proposed the same offer, people didn’t hesitate to accept the stingy offer!


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