UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution & Culture
I apply an evolutionary perspective to topics at the intersection of threat-detection, group bias, and emotion.
My doctoral thesis explored the influence of unconsciously perceived threats on intergroup bias in three cultures.
These studies, conducted in Tibet, Northern Ireland, and the United States, demonstrated that exaggerated group bias
attends subtle cues of threat (e.g., reminders of death) due to an unconscious alarm mechanism related to affective sensitivity,
rather than a content-dedicated adaptation specifically designed to increase intergroup bias.
for the decrypted version.)
Current studies focus on representations of threat via conceptual metaphors of bodily size and strength, and on
the role of the oxytocinergic system in threat-assessment and morality.
In recent projects, I have also examined the psychobiology of parental precautions against potential threats to children, rationales people use to justify
inflicting harm, and folk concepts of intentionality in contexts of immoral harm.
Piazza, J., Sousa, P., & Holbrook, C. (forthcoming). Authority dependence and judgments of utilitarian harm. Cognition.
Holbrook, C., Piazza, J., & Fessler, D.M.T. (2013). Conceptual and empirical challenges to the 'Authentic' versus 'Hubristic' model of pride. Emotion.
Holbrook, C., & Sousa, P. (2013). Supernatural beliefs, unconscious threat and judgment bias in Tibetan Buddhists. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13, 33-56.
Fessler, D.M.T., & Holbrook, C. (2013). Friends shrink foes: The presence of comrades decreases the envisioned physical formidability of an opponent. Psychological Science.
Holbrook, C., & Fessler, D.M.T. (2013). Sizing up the threat: The envisioned physical formidability of terrorists tracks their leaders' failures and successes. Cognition, 127, 46-56.
Holbrook, C., Fessler, D.M.T., & Gervais, M. (2013). Revenge without redundancy:
Functional outcomes do not require discrete adaptations for vengeance or forgiveness [Commentary].
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 22-23.
Fessler, D.M.T., & Holbrook, C. (2013). Baumard et al.'s moral markets lack market dynamics [Commentary].
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 89-90.
Fessler, D.M.T., Holbrook, C., & Snyder, J.K. (2012). Weapons make the man
(larger): Relative formidability influences perceived size and strength. PLoS-ONE.
Holbrook, C., Sousa, P., & Hahn-Holbrook, J. (2011). Unconscious vigilance:
Worldview defense without adaptations for terror, coalition or uncertainty management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 451-466.
Hahn-Holbrook, J., Holt-Lunstad, J., Holbrook, C., Coyne, S., & Lawson, E. T. (2011).
Maternal defense: Breastfeeding increases aggression by decreasing stress. Psychological Science, 22, 1288-1295.
Hahn-Holbrook, J.*, Holbrook, C.*, & Haselton, M. (2011). Parental precaution: Adaptive
ends and neurobiological means. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 1052-1066.
(*equal authorship.) PDF
Sousa, P., & Holbrook, C. (2010). Folk concepts of intentional action in the contexts
of amoral and immoral luck. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1, 351-370.
Hahn-Holbrook, J., Holbrook, C., & Bering, J. (2010). Snakes, spiders, strangers:
How the evolved fear of strangers may misdirect efforts to protect children from
harm. In J. M. Lampinen & K. Sexton-Radek (Eds.) Protecting children from violence:
Evidence-based interventions. New York: Psychology Press.
Sousa, P., Holbrook, C., & Piazza, J. (2009). The morality of harm. Cognition, 113, 80-92.
Fessler, D.M.T., & Holbrook, C. (revise and resubmit). A cold wildfire: Declination and the spread of
antisocial behavior. Evolution and Human Behavior.
Holbrook, C., Hahn-Holbrook, J., & Holt-Lunstad, J. (under review). Self-reported spirituality
correlates with endogenous oxytocin.
Fessler, D.M.T., & Holbrook, C. (under review). Bound to lose: Physical incapacitation increases
the conceptualized size of an antagonist in men.
Fessler, D. M. T., Holbrook, C., & Gervais, M. (under review). Physical
strength influences conceptualizations of prospective foes in two disparate human societies.
Fessler, D. M. T., Tiokhin, L., Holbrook, C., & Snyder, J. K. (under review). Foundations of the "Crazy Bastard" Hypothesis:
Nonviolent physical risk-taking enhances perceived formidability in two cultures.
Fessler, D.M.T., Holbrook, C., Pollack, J., & Hahn-Holbrook, J. (under review). Stranger danger: Parenthood and child presence
increase the envisioned bodily formidability of menacing men.
Holbrook, C., Galperin, A., Fessler, D.M.T., Johnson, K., Bryant, G., & Haselton, M. (in preparation). If
looks could kill: Anger judgments are intensified by affordances for doing harm.
Holbrook, C., Hahn-Holbrook, J., & Holt-Lunstad, J. (in preparation). Endogenous
oxytocin enhances emotional face detection during dyadic conflict.
Holbrook, C., Fessler, D.M.T., & Navarrete, C. (in preparation). Racial stereotypes of physical formidability mediate perceived aggressiveness.
Holbrook, C., Rosch, E., & Hahn-Holbrook, J. (in preparation). Known unknowns: Inductive reasoning under conscious ignorance.
Holbrook, C., Fessler, D.M.T., & Pollack, J. (in preparation). With God on your side: Religious
primes reduce the envisioned formidability of a prospective adversary.
A few images from my research in Tibet: