James Chisholm

Emeritus Professor, BA Wesleyan (Middletown), MPhil PhD Rutgers

  • The University of Western Australia (M309), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

  • 563 Citations
  • 9 h-Index
19952018
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Personal profile

Research

My intellectual life is motivated by the assumption that we are part of nature, part of life. If we are part of life, then in principle everything about us must ultimately be explainable in terms of evolutionary theory, our only scientific theory of life. But how can we understand such uniquely human traits as rationality, values, morality, aesthetics, and culture itself in terms of evolutionary biology? I approach this problem through the venerable question of how nature (biology) and culture (shared learning) interact during development to produce human behaviour.


I thus use the principles of evolutionary ecology, life history theory, sexual selection theory, and parental investment theory to generate models of the development of human reproductive strategies. In conjunction with data about the behaviour of nonhuman primates and the cultural ecology of existing hunter-gatherer peoples around the world I develop models of the evolution of human behaviour, particularly the origin of male parental investment and the family. I also use these models to generate testable hypotheses about the causes and consequences of individual differences in such life history traits as age at menarche, first sexual intercourse, marriage, and first reproduction; the relationship between number and quality of close emotional ("attachment") relationships throughout life (a major part of the new field of evolutionary psychology); and the trade-offs between quantity and quality of offspring. Understanding these individual differences should help us understand better such modern concerns as teenage pregnancy, AIDs, single parenthood, family dysfunction, etc. Using evolutionary theory in this way is what the emerging fields of evolutionary medicine or evolutionary public health are all about. To the extent that an evolutionary perspective on health and well-being provides a rational basis for social policy my work is also relevant to evolutionary ethics. Most of these ideas are discussed in greater detail in my new book Death, Hope, and Sex: Steps to an Evolutionary Ecology of Mind and Morality (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Keywords

  • Behavioural ecology
  • Biological anthropology
  • Biosocial anthropology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethical theory
  • Evolution
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Human biology
  • Human evolution
  • Human reproductive behaviour
  • Life history theory
  • Mental health
  • Parental investment theory
  • Population ecology
  • Reproduction
  • Sociobiology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where James Chisholm is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 4 Similar Profiles
Individuality Medicine & Life Sciences
Experimental Games Medicine & Life Sciences
Hope Medicine & Life Sciences
Reproduction Medicine & Life Sciences
Mother-Child Relations Medicine & Life Sciences
Menarche Medicine & Life Sciences
Ecology Medicine & Life Sciences
Maternal Age Medicine & Life Sciences

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Research Output 1995 2018

1 Citation (Scopus)

Do grandparents influence parents’ decision to vaccinate their children? A systematic review

Karthigesu, S. P., Chisholm, J. S. & Coall, D. A., 26 Nov 2018, In : Vaccine. 36, 49, p. 7456-7462 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

grandparents
systematic review
Parents
Vaccines
vaccines

How attachment gave rise to culture

Chisholm, J., 2017, The cultural nature of attachment: Contextualizing relationships and development. Keller, H. & Bard, K. A. (eds.). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, p. 273-299 27 p. (Ernst Strungmann Forum).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Offspring
Uncertainty
Evolutionary Theory
Cultural Context
Dyads

Primate infancies: causes and consequences of varying care

Hawkes, K., Chisholm, J., Fairbanks, L. A., Johow, J., Kalcher-Sommersguter, E., Liebal, K., Myowa, M., Sommer, V., Thierry, B. & Finlay, B. L., 2017, The cultural nature of attachment: Contextualizing relationships and development. Keller, H. & Bard, K. A. (eds.). United States of America: The MIT Press, Vol. 22. p. 69-108 39 p. (Strungmann Forum Reports).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)

Mother-infant cultural group selection

Chisholm, J. S., Coall, D. A. & Atkinson, L., 2016, In : Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 39, p. e35

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Mother-Child Relations
Mothers

Chapter 3, Evolution and Prenatal Development - An Evolutionary Perspective

Coall, D., Callan, AC., Dickins, TE. & Chisholm, J., 2015, Hand Book of Child Psychology and Developmental Science. Lamb, M. E. (ed.). 7th ed. USA: John Wiley & Sons, p. 57-105

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperOther chapter contribution

Projects 1996 2003