Gul Deniz Salali

Gul Deniz Salali
University College London | UCL · Department of Anthropology

BSc, MSc, PhD (University College London)

About

52
Publications
20,531
Reads
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1,308
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Introduction
I research on human behaviour and health using evolutionary approaches. Since 2013, I have been conducting fieldwork in the Congo rainforest studying Mbendjele BaYaka hunter-gatherers. My currently active research projects are: - social learning and cultural evolution - evolutionary approaches to health-related behavior and mental health - hunter-gatherer diet, health and physical activity. ​ Check out my research blogs here: https://www.guldenizsalali.com/blog
Additional affiliations
September 2018 - present
University College London
Position
  • Lecturer
September 2017 - September 2018
University College London
Position
  • Fellow
May 2017 - September 2017
University College London
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
February 2013 - February 2017
University College London
Field of study
  • Biological Anthropology
September 2010 - September 2012
Université de Montpellier
Field of study
  • Evolutionary Biology
September 2010 - September 2012
University of Groningen
Field of study
  • Evolutionary Biology

Publications

Publications (52)
Article
Full-text available
Background and objectives: Most studies to date have focused on the negative aspects of anxiety. Anxiety, however, is an evolved emotional response that can provide protection in the face of risk. Pandemics are characterized by increased mortality risk coupled with future uncertainties, which both cause heightened anxiety. Here, we examine the fac...
Article
Full-text available
Cultures around the world are converging as populations become more connected. On the one hand this increased connectedness can promote the recombination of existing cultural practices to generate new ones, but on the other it may lead to the replacement of traditional practices and global WEIRDing. Here we examine the process and causes of changes...
Article
Full-text available
Here we examined the relative effectiveness of prestige-based (vaccination of an expert scientist/president/politician/celebrity/religious leader), conformist (vaccination of friends and family) and risk-based (witnessing death or illness of a person from the disease) incentives at increasing vaccine uptake by COVID-19 vaccine intention. We conduct...
Article
Full-text available
High-fidelity transmission of information through imitation and teaching has been proposed as necessary for cumulative cultural evolution. Yet, it is unclear when and for which knowledge domains children employ different social learning processes. This paper explores the development of social learning processes and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherer ch...
Article
Full-text available
Humans possess the unique ability for cumulative culture [1, 2]. It has been argued that hunter-gatherer's complex social structure [3-9] has facilitated the evolution of cumulative culture by allowing information exchange among large pools of individuals [10-13]. However, empirical evidence for the interaction between social structure and cultural...
Article
Full-text available
When interacting with infants, humans often alter their speech and song in ways thought to support communication. Theories of human child-rearing, informed by data on vocal signalling across species, predict that such alterations should appear globally. Here, we show acoustic differences between infant-directed and adult-directed vocalizations acro...
Article
Full-text available
Conformist social influence is a double-edged sword when it comes to vaccine promotion. On the one hand, social influence may increase vaccine uptake by reassuring the hesitant about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine; on the other, people may forgo the cost of vaccination when the majority is already vaccinated – giving rise to a public g...
Preprint
Ancestral humans evolved a complex social structure still observed in extant hunter-gatherers. Here we investigate the effects of extensive sociality and mobility on the oral microbiome of 138 Agta hunter-gatherers from the Philippines. Comparisons of microbiome composition showed that the Agta are more similar to Central African Bayaka hunter-gath...
Preprint
Full-text available
Examining development is essential for a full understanding of behaviour, including how individuals acquire traits and how adaptive evolutionary forces shape these processes. The present study explores cooperative development among the Agta, a Filipino hunter-gatherer population. A simple resource allocation game assessing both levels of cooperatio...
Preprint
Conformist social influence is a double-edged sword when it comes to vaccine promotion. On the one hand, social influence may increase vaccine uptake by reassuring the hesitant about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine; on the other, people may forgo the cost of vaccination when the majority is already vaccinated – giving rise to a public g...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aversion towards bitter tastes evolved across vertebrate species to enable the recognition of harmful plant toxins. Genetic background, mode of subsistence, and dietary factors may explain variation in bitter taste sensitivity between human ecologies. We are the first to examine bitter taste perception within a population at different levels of mar...
Article
Full-text available
Ethnographers frequently allude to alcoholism and related harms in Indigenous hunter-gatherer communities, but very few studies have quantified patterns of alcohol consumption or its health and social impacts. We present a case study of the Mbendjele BaYaka, a Congolese population undergoing socioeconomic transition. 83 adults answered questions ab...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Countries differ in their levels of vaccine hesitancy (a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines), trust in vaccines, and acceptance of new vaccines. In this paper, we examine the factors contributing to the cross-cultural variation in vaccine attitudes, measured by levels of 1) general vaccine hesitancy, 2) trust in vaccines, and 3)...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past century autoimmune disease incidence increased rapidly in (post-) industrialised, affluent societies, suggesting that changes in ecology and lifestyle are driving this development. Epidemiological studies show that (i) 80% of autoimmune disease patients are female, (ii) autoimmune diseases co-occur more often in women, and (iii) the i...
Preprint
Full-text available
The majority of the studies to date have focused on the negative aspects of anxiety. Anxiety, however, is an evolved emotional response serving to decrease mortality risk. Pandemics are characterized by increased mortality risk coupled with future uncertainties, both of which result in heightened anxiety. Here, we examined the factors associated wi...
Article
Full-text available
Pandemiyi önlemedeki en büyük umudumuz, COVID-19’a karşı başarılı bir aşı geliştirilmesi olarak görünüyor. Ancak başarılı bir aşının geliştirilmesi tek başına yeterli olmayacak. Bir aşının başarılı olup sürü bağışıklığının sağlanması için, toplumda yeterli sayıda insanın aşılanması gerekiyor. Bunun için aşı temini kadar, insanların aşı yaptırmaya k...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought science into the public eye and to the attention of governments more than ever before. Much of this attention is on work in epidemiology, virology, and public health, with most behavioural advice in public health focussing squarely on ‘proximate’ determinants of behaviour. While epidemiological models are powerful...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Much research effort is focused on developing an effective vaccine for combatting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Vaccine development itself, however, will not be enough given that a sufficient amount of people will need to be vaccinated for widespread immunity. Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise, varies across countries, and is asso...
Preprint
Full-text available
Across taxa, the forms of vocal signals are shaped by their functions. In humans, a salient context of vocal signaling is infant care, as human infants are altricial. Humans often produce "parent-ese", speech and song for infants that differ acoustically from ordinary speech and song, in fashions that are thought to support parent-infant communicat...
Article
Full-text available
Human children are frequently cared for by non-parental caregivers (alloparents), yet few studies have conducted systematic alternative hypothesis tests of why alloparents help. Here we explore whether predictions from kin selection, reciprocity, learning-to-mother and costly signalling hypotheses explain non-parental childcare among Agta hunter-ga...
Article
Despite much theorizing, the evolutionary reasons why humans cooperate extensively with unrelated individuals are still largely unknown. While reciprocity explains many instances of non-kin cooperation, much remains to be understood. A recent suite of models based upon ‘cooperative assortativity’ suggest that non-kin cooperation can evolve if indiv...
Article
Full-text available
Do caregivers in non-Western communities adapt their behaviors to the needs of infants? This question reflects one of the most long-standing debates on the universality versus culture-specificity of caregiver-infant interactions in general and sensitive responsiveness to infants in particular. In this article, an integration of both points of view...
Article
Full-text available
Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals’ centrality in their social network (who they and their social ties are connected to) has been associated with fertility, longevity, disease and information transmission in a range of taxa. Here, we present the first exploration in humans of the relationship between reproductive success and different measures of network centrality of 39...
Article
Do caregivers in non-Western communities adapt their behaviors to the needs of infants? This question reflects one of the most long-standing debates on the universality versus culture-specificity of caregiver-infant interactions in general and sensitive responsiveness to infants in particular. In this article, an integration of both points of view...
Thesis
Hunters and gatherers occupied 95% of the human history. Despite the forces of globalization, current-day hunter-gatherers can shed light on how we adapted to different environments and generated complex cultural traits. Their changing ways of life, on the other hand, may let us understand cultural change. In this thesis, I explore the cultural evo...
Article
Full-text available
Social networks in modern societies are highly structured, usually involving frequent contact with a small number of unrelated ‘friends’ 1 . However, contact network structures in traditional small-scale societies, especially hunter-gatherers, are poorly characterized. We developed a portable wireless sensing technology (motes) to study within-camp...
Article
Full-text available
Many defining human characteristics including theory of mind, culture and language relate to our sociality, and facilitate the formation and maintenance of cooperative relationships. Therefore, deciphering the context in which our sociality evolved is invaluable in understanding what makes us unique as a species. Much work has emphasised group-leve...
Article
Like many other mammalian and primate societies [1–4], humans are said to live in multilevel social groups, with individuals situated in a series of hierarchically structured sub-groups [5, 6]. Although this multilevel social organization has been described among contemporary hunter-gatherers [5], questions remain as to the benefits that individual...
Article
Full-text available
Humans regularly cooperate with non-kin, which has been theorized to require reciprocity between repeatedly interacting and trusting individuals. However, the role of repeated interactions has not previously been demonstrated in explaining real-world patterns of hunter–gatherer cooperation. Here we explore cooperation among the Agta, a population o...
Data
File 1: Supplementary Material Section 1: Study Population Section 2: Game Rationale and Data Collection Section 3: Camp Stability Measure Section 4: Statistical Analyses Section 5: Camp Stability and Foraging Return Rates Tables S1–S7 Figures S1 & S2
Poster
Full-text available
Poster presentation at AAPA 2016 symposium ’Biocultural Perspectives of Family Health’
Article
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The Neolithic demographic transition remains a paradox, because it is associated with both higher rates of population growth and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Here we reconcile the conflicting evidence by proposing that the spread of agriculture involved a life history quality–quantity trade-off whereby mothers traded offspring survival...
Article
Full-text available
One of the central puzzles in the study of sociocultural evolution is how and why transitions from small-scale human groups to large-scale, hierarchically more complex ones occurred. Here we develop a spatially explicit agent-based model as a first step towards understanding the ecological dynamics of small and large-scale human groups. By analogy...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have a tendency to discount the future; that is we value small, short-term rewards over larger, long-term rewards. The degree of future discounting, however, changes in response to socio-ecological factors. Here, we study Mbendjele BaYaka hunter-gatherers of northern Congo and their farmer neighbours to investigate adaptations in inter-tempo...
Presentation
Full-text available
Presentation about the relationship between sedentism and helminthic burden in modern day foragers.
Article
Full-text available
The social organization of mobile hunter-gatherers has several derived features, including low within-camp relatedness and fluid meta-groups. Although these features have been proposed to have provided the selective context for the evolution of human hypercooperation and cumulative culture, how such a distinctive social system may have emerged rema...
Article
Full-text available
The occurrence of polygynous marriage in hunter–gatherer societies, which do not accumulate wealth, remains largely unexplored since resource availability is dependent on male hunting capacity and limited by the lack of storage. Hunter–gatherer societies offer the greatest insight in to human evolution since they represent the majority of our speci...
Article
Evolutionary theorists argue that cultural evolution has harnessed various aspects of our evolved psychology to create a variety of different mechanisms for sustaining social norms, including those related to large-scale cooperation. One of these mechanisms, costly punishment, has emerged in experiments as an effective means to sustain cooperation...
Article
Full-text available
Dominance hierarchies pervade animal societies. Within a static social environment, in which group size and composition are unchanged, an individual's hierarchy rank results from intrinsic (e.g. body size) and extrinsic (e.g. previous experiences) factors. Little is known, however, about how dominance relationships are formed and maintained when gr...
Article
Full-text available
Human activity can have a large impact on surrounding ecosystems. For example, humans alter resource distributions for other species, potentially modifying these species competitive dynamics. These changes in local competitive processes are frequently associated with species invasions. Here, we investigate how differences in resource distribution a...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Informed by evolutionary and social psychology theories, our project focuses on the individual and country-level determinants of vaccine hesitancy. We aim to answer the following questions: Country-level: Why are people in some countries more hesitant about vaccinations? Do cross-cultural differences in trust in others affect conspiracy beliefs and vaccination decisions? Individual-level: Why are people hesitant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Turkey? Why do people fear new technologies? Do cognitive biases affect vaccination decisions? What are the trusted public health information sources? Do cognitive biases affect trust in health promotion messages? More info: https://vaccinehesitancyproject.org/
Project
Development of social learning and play in hunter-gatherer children Cultural evolution of plant knowledge in Congo hunter-gatherers Applied cultural evolution
Project
- Dietary patterns, immune response and physical activity levels in transitioning hunter-gatherers of the Congo Basin - Diseases of modernity: Comparing physical activity levels, social networks and childrearing practices in hunter-gatherers and Western societies, and the implications on mental health and wellbeing