C. Athena Aktipis

C. Athena Aktipis
Arizona State University | ASU · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

121
Publications
37,492
Reads
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4,072
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Introduction
I'm an Associate Professor at Arizona State University and co-Director of The Human Generosity Project. In my lab we study cooperation across systems from human sharing to cancer.
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - present
Arizona State University
Position
  • Faculty Member
January 2014 - present
Human Generosity Project
Position
  • Co-Director
September 2013 - July 2014
Education
August 2003 - June 2008
University of Pennsylvania
Field of study
  • Psychology
August 1998 - May 2002
Reed College
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (121)
Article
Background: COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020. Resulting containment protocols altered the day-to-day lives of people around the globe, impacting typical physical activity patterns. Purpose: The purpose of this mixed-method study was to understand how physical activity changes occurred during the first few months of the COVID-19...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review Cancers are a leading cause of death in humans and for many other species. Diet has often been associated with cancers, and the microbiome is an essential mediator between diet and cancers. Here, we review the work on cancer and the microbiome across species to search for broad patterns of susceptibility associated with different...
Article
Full-text available
Relationships with genetic relatives have been extensively studied in the evolutionary social sciences, but affinal, i.e., in-laws, relationships have received much less attention. Yet, humans have extensive interactions with the kin of their mates, leading to many opportunities for cooperative and conflictual interactions with extended kinship net...
Preprint
Full-text available
After decades of research on the topic of reciprocity, there is still no consensus about the meaning of the term. Instead, there has been a proliferation of reciprocity terms with varied definitions, some of which overlap in ways that lead to confusion for scholars studying cooperation. In this paper, we provide a summary of 35 reciprocity terms an...
Article
Friendships provide social support and mental health benefits, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has limited interactions with friends. In August 2020, we asked participants (N = 634) about their friendships during the pandemic as part of a larger study. We found that younger people and people with higher subjective SES reported more negative effects on th...
Article
Full-text available
Maasai and other Maa-speaking pastoralists in Kenya and Tanzania have a risk-pooling system that they refer to by their word for the umbilical cord (osotua). Gifts from one osotua partner to another are contingent on the recipient’s need and do not create any debt. We refer to such gifts as need-based transfers. Maa-speakers also have a system of d...
Preprint
Given the importance of friendships during challenging times and the mixed associations reported between personality traits and disease-related behaviors, we investigated the influence of personality traits on friendships during the COVID-19 pandemic and how both influenced risky behaviors. In November 2020, we asked participants about their reacti...
Preprint
Friendships are valuable social relationships that provide many psychological and health benefits. However, friendships can also be costly and exploitative. How do we ensure maximum benefits while reducing potential costs from friendships? One way is to have “rules” (heuristics for assessing value -- if a rule is broken, then the friendship provide...
Article
Full-text available
Trichoplax adhaerens is the simplest multicellular animal with tissue differentiation and somatic cell turnover. Like all other multicellular organisms, it should be vulnerable to cancer, yet there have been no reports of cancer in T . adhaerens or any other placozoan. We investigated the cancer resistance of T . adhaerens , discovering that they a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cancers are a leading cause of death in humans and for many other species. Diet has often been associated with cancers, and the microbiome is an essential mediator between diet and cancers. Here we review the work on cancer and the microbiome across species. We systematically reviewed over a thousand published articles and identified links between...
Article
Friendships provide material benefits, bolster health, and may help solve adaptive challenges. However, a recurrent obstacle to sustaining those friendships—and thus enjoying many friendship-mediated fitness benefits—is interference from other people. Friendship jealousy may be well-designed for helping both men and women meet the recurrent, adapti...
Article
In the last few decades, there has been much research regarding the importance of social prestige in shaping the social structure of small-scale societies. While recent studies show that social prestige may have important health consequences, little is known about the extent to which prestige translates into actual in-person interactions and proxim...
Article
Background: Physical activity (PA) mitigated psychological distress during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet not much is known about whether PA had effects on stress in subsequent months. We examined the relationship between change over time in COVID-related stress and self-reported change in PA between March and July 2020. Methods:...
Article
Full-text available
After half a century of debate and few empirical tests, there remains no consensus concerning why ovulation in human females is considered concealed. The predominant male investment hypothesis states that females were better able to obtain material investment from male partners across those females’ ovulatory cycles by concealing ovulation. We buil...
Article
Full-text available
To better understand risk management and mutual aid among American ranchers, we interviewed and mailed a survey to ranchers in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, and Cochise County, Arizona, focusing on two questions: (1) When do ranchers expect repayment for the help they provide others? (2) What determines ranchers’ degrees of involvement in networks of...
Article
In times of crisis, risk pooling can enhance the resilience of individuals, households and communities. Risk-pooling systems are most effective when their participants adhere to several principles: (1) participants should agree that the pool is for needs that arise unpredictably, not for routine, predictable needs; (2) giving to those in need shoul...
Article
Full-text available
Disease susceptibility and resistance are important factors for the conservation of endangered species, including elephants. We analyzed pathology data from 26 zoos and report that Asian elephants have increased neoplasia and malignancy prevalence compared with African bush elephants. This is consistent with observed higher susceptibility to tuberc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and sustained recommendations to wear protective face coverings, many people remained reluctant to comply throughout the early months of the pandemic. In the present study we surveyed an international cohort of participants on three different occasions from July to August, 2020 (N = 695) to examine the r...
Article
Full-text available
The application of evolutionary and ecological principles to cancer prevention and treatment, as well as recognising cancer as a selection force in nature, has gained impetus over the last 50 years. Following the initial theoretical approaches that combined knowledge from interdisciplinary fields, it became clear that using the eco‐evolutionary fra...
Preprint
Full-text available
What explains differences in attitudes towards wearing protective face masks to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus? We investigated potential drivers of attitudes about mask wearing as part of a longitudinal study during the COVID-19 pandemic (N-participants = 711, N-countries = 36), focusing on people’s perceptions and feelings about seeing...
Chapter
Full-text available
For humans, sociality is inextricably linked to cooperation. The human life history, characterized by an extended altricial period during early childhood, required cooperation in the form of pair-bonding, alloparenting, intergenerational transfers of calories, and extensive cooperative food sharing among kin and non-kin. Cooperating to achieve mutu...
Preprint
Full-text available
There are no reports of cancer in sponges, despite them having somatic cell turnover, long lifespans and no specialized adaptive immune cells. In order to investigate whether sponges are cancer resistant, we exposed a species of sponge, Tethya wilhelma, to X-rays. We found that T. wilhelma can withstand 600 Gy of X-ray radiation. That is approximat...
Preprint
Friendships are important for social support and mental health, yet social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic have limited people’s ability to interact with their friends during this difficult time. In August of 2020, we asked participants about changes in their friendships as a result of the pandemic - including changes in the quality of frie...
Preprint
Full-text available
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing protective facial masks has become a divisive issue, yet little is known about what drives differences in mask wearing across individuals. We surveyed 711 people around the world, asking about mask wearing and several other variables. We found that people who reported greater perceived risk of i...
Article
Microbes can influence host physiology and behavior in many ways. Here we review evidence suggesting that some microbes can contribute to host stress (and other microbes can contribute to increased resilience to stress). We explain how certain microbes, which we call “stress microbes,” can potentially benefit evolutionarily from inducing stress in...
Article
Full-text available
The extent and importance of functional heterogeneity and crosstalk between tumor cells is poorly understood. Here, we describe the generation of clonal populations from a patient-derived ovarian clear cell carcinoma model which forms malignant ascites and solid peritoneal tumors upon intraperitoneal transplantation in mice. The clonal populations...
Article
Full-text available
Humans and viruses have been coevolving for millennia. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19) has been particularly successful in evading our evolved defenses. The outcome has been tragic—across the globe, millions have been sickened and hundreds of thousands have died. Moreover, the quarantine...
Preprint
Relationships with genetic relatives have been extensively studied in the evolutionary social sciences, but affinal relationships have received much less attention, and virtually no work has examined both cooperation and conflict among affines from an evolutionary perspective. Yet humans have extensive interactions with the kin of their mates, i.e....
Article
Full-text available
Status Does Not Predict Stress: Women in an Egalitarian Hunter-Gatherer Society - Piotr Fedurek, Laurent Lacroix, Julia Lehmann, Athena Aktipis, Lee Cronk, Cathryn Townsend, E. Jerryson Makambi, Ibrahim Mabulla, Volker Behrends, J. Colette Berbesque
Article
Full-text available
Friendships can foster happiness, health, and reproductive fitness. However, friendships end-even when we might not want them to. A primary reason for this is interference from third parties. Yet, little work has explored how people meet the challenge of maintaining friendships in the face of real or perceived threats from third parties, as when ou...
Article
Need-based transfer systems pool risk among interdependent individuals. Such arrangements are bound by two simple rules: Ask for help only when in need and, if you are able, give help to others who ask. But there may be a temptation for individuals to break these rules for short-term personal profit. Here, we study one factor that may enforce hones...
Preprint
Full-text available
Friendships provide material benefits, bolster health, and may help solve adaptive challenges. However, a recurrent obstacle to sustaining those friendships—and thus enjoying many friendship-mediated fitness benefits—is interference from other people. Friendship jealousy may be well-designed for helping both men and women meet the recurrent, adapti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Disease susceptibility and defense are important factors in conservation, particularly for elephants. We report that in addition to endotheliotropic herpesvirus and tuberculosis, Asian elephants are also more susceptible to cancer than African elephants. To determine mechanisms underlying elephant traits including disease resistance, we analyzed ge...
Preprint
Full-text available
Do crises bring people together or pull them apart? Here we examine how people’s willingness to help others and their perceived interdependence with others changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and assess what factors are associated with any change. We collected data at 4 time points from the same cohort of 497 paid participants, starting on March...
Article
Full-text available
Ik of Uganda cooperate in dictator games especially when need, supernatural punishment invoked - Cathryn Townsend, Athena Aktipis, Daniel Balliet, Lee Cronk
Preprint
Fitness interdependence refers to the degree to which two or more organisms influence each other’s success in replicating their genes. We designed a new scale of perceived fitness interdependence that explicitly measures how individuals’ feelings and outcomes covary with the outcomes of specific partners (e.g., “When [target] succeeds, I feel good....
Preprint
Full-text available
Friendships can foster happiness, health, and reproductive fitness. But friendships end—even when we might not want them to. A primary reason for this is interference from third parties. Yet little work has explored how people meet the challenge of maintaining friendships in the face of real or perceived threats from third parties, as when our frie...
Article
Smartphone use changes the landscape of social interactions, including introducing new social dilemmas to daily life. The challenge of putting down one's smartphone is an example of a classic coordination problem from game theory: the stag hunt game. In a stag hunt game, there are two possible coordination points, one that involves big payoffs for...
Article
Full-text available
Development of new biocides has dominated human responses to evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Increasing and uniform biocide use, the spread of resistance genes, and the lack of new classes of compounds indicate the importance of navigating toward more sustainable coevolutionary dynamics between human culture and species that evolv...
Article
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a crested cactus garden that embodies both an aesthetic and medically transformative approach to cancer. The cacti in this garden have mutations in their meristem cells causing uncontrolled growths—which are, by some definitions, cancer. The garden was installed near the new Biodesign Institute C building on the Ariz...
Preprint
To interrogate functional heterogeneity and crosstalk between tumor cells, we generated clonal populations from a patient-derived ovarian clear cell carcinoma model which forms malignant ascites and solid peritoneal tumors upon intraperitoneal transplantation in mice. The clonal populations were engineered with secreted Gaussia luciferase to monito...
Preprint
Need-based transfer systems function to pool risk. Such arrangements are bound by two simple rules: Ask for help only when in need and, if you are able, give help to others who ask. But there is a temptation for individuals to break these rules for short-term personal profit. Here, we study one factor that may enforce honesty in need-based transfer...
Article
Full-text available
Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage with an acidic and effervescent taste, is composed of a multispecies microbial ecosystem with complex interactions that are characterized by both cooperation and conflict. In kombucha, a complex community of bacteria and yeast initiates the fermentation of a starter tea (usually black or green tea with sugar), pro...
Article
Full-text available
Risk management is a problem humans have faced throughout history and across societies. One way to manage risk is to transfer it to other parties through formal and informal insurance systems. One informal method of self-insurance is limited risk pooling, where individuals can ask for help only when in need. Models suggest that need-based transfer...
Chapter
Full-text available
Risk is inevitable, and managing it is an important component of individual and community strategies to adapt to local conditions. In this chapter we provide an overview of the risk management frameworks in eight communities to show how each society manages risk socially. We focus especially on the use of need-based transfers to buffer the effects...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review We use an ecological lens to understand how microbes and cancer cells coevolve inside the ecosystems of our bodies. We describe how microbe-cancer cell interactions contribute to cancer progression, including cooperation between microbes and cancer cells. We discuss the role of the immune system in preventing this apparent ‘collus...
Article
Full-text available
Animals have evolved different foraging strategies in which some animals forage independently and others forage in groups. The evolution of social feeding does not necessarily require cooperation, social feeding can be a beneficial individual-level strategy if it provides mutualistic benefits, for example though increasing the efficiency of resourc...
Article
Full-text available
Background and objectives: Several major risk factors for cancer involve vascular oversupply of energy to affected tissues. These include obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammation. Here, we propose a potential mechanistic explanation for the association between energy oversupply and cancer risk, which we call the metabolic cancer suppression hypo...
Preprint
Although genetic relatedness has been shown to be an important determinant of helping and other forms of cooperation among kin, it does not correspond well to the different types of kin designated by the kin terminologies used in human societies. This mismatch between genetic relatedness and kin terms has led some anthropologists to reject the idea...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose In this paper, we provide an overview of a life history theory and how it applies to cancer evolution. Recent Findings We review the literature on trade-offs in tumors, focusing on the trade-offs among cellular proliferation, survival, and motility. Trade-offs are critical natural constraints for almost all evolutionary processes. Many eco...
Article
Although genetic relatedness has been shown to be an important determinant of helping and other forms of cooperation among kin, it does not correspond well to the different types of kin designated by the kin terminologies used in human societies. This mismatch between genetic relatedness and kin terms has led some anthropologists to reject the idea...
Article
Full-text available
The power of citizen science to contribute to both science and society is gaining increased recognition, particularly in physics and biology. Although there is a long history of public engagement in agriculture and food science, the term 'citizen science' has rarely been applied to these efforts. Similarly, in the emerging field of citizen science,...
Article
Rising levels of antimicrobial and pesticide resistance increasingly undermine human health and systems for biomass production, and emphasize the sustainability challenge of preserving organisms susceptible to these biocides. In this Review, we introduce key concepts and examine dynamics of biocide susceptibility that must be governed to address th...
Article
Full-text available
Human foragers are obligately group-living, and their high dependence on mutual aid is believed to have characterized our species' social evolution. It was therefore a central adaptive problem for our ancestors to avoid damaging the willingness of other group members to render them assistance. Cognitively, this requires a predictive map of the degr...
Article
Full-text available
Within the cancer microenvironment, the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in the primary site as well as in the metastatic site represent a global biological phenomenon. To understand the growth, proliferation and progression of cancer either by local expansion and/or metastasis, it is important to understand the cancer microenvironment and...
Article
Full-text available
Some acts of human cooperation are not easily explained by traditional models of kinship or reciprocity. Fitness interdependence may provide a unifying conceptual framework, in which cooperation arises from the mutual dependence for survival or reproduction, as occurs among mates, risk-pooling partnerships and brothers-in-arms.
Article
In disaster recovery situations, including the post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans, greening behavior (i.e., the planting of trees, flowers and other plants) is thought to play an important role in social, ecological and economic recovery. In this paper, we use agent-based modeling to investigate and understand the roles of green attachment (which...
Article
Full-text available
Fitness interdependence is the degree to which two or more organisms influence each other's success in replicating their genes. Identity fusion may be a proximate mechanism that aligns behavior with fitness interdependence. Although identity fusion may usually lead to behaviors that are fitness enhancing, in evolutionarily novel environments, it ma...
Preprint
Full-text available
Throughout their evolutionary history, humans have faced risks including drought, disease, natural disasters and other unexpected negative events. To deal with these risks, humans use a variety of risk management strategies, some of which involve relying on others in times of need in order to pool risk. However, the effectiveness of risk pooling st...
Article
The capacity to innovate is often considered a defining feature of human societies, but it is not a capacity that is unique to human societies: innovation occurs in cellular societies as well. Cellular societies such as multicellular bodies and microbial communities, including the human microbiome, are capable of innovation in response to novel opp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Kombucha is a sweetened tea fermented by bacteria and yeast into a carbonated, acidic drink, producing a surface biofilm pellicle (colloquially called a SCOBY) during the process. Typically, liquid and a biofilm pellicle from a previously fermented culture is used as a starter for new cultures; however, there is no standard protocol for growing kom...
Chapter
Full-text available
Evolution by natural selection is the conceptual foundation for nearly every branch of biology, and increasingly also for biomedicine and medical research. In cancer biology, evolution explains how populations of cells in tumors change over time. It is a fundamental question whether this evolutionary process is driven primarily by natural selection...