Alex Schwartz

Alex Schwartz


Office Location and Hours:
HSS 365
MW: 11 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Th: 12:15 - 1:30 p.m.

Professor, Chair of Psychology Department

Primary Area: Evolutionary and Developmental Psychology

Teaching and Research Interests:
The modern study of psychology takes the perspective that the mind is comprised of many, often independently functioning, neural mechanisms. The evolutionary developmental approach seeks to understand 1) which mechanisms reliably develop, 2) the selection pressures that shaped these mechanisms, 3) the ontological inputs that affect their development and 4) the resulting variation in phenotype.

My current research direction looks at mechanisms that influence the perception of risk-taking vis a vis "costly signaling theory." Costly behavior, i.e. binge drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, is often expensive, physiologically aversive, and dangerous to health. Could the motivation for this counter-intuitive behavior stem from, in part, that publicly tolerating cost increases one's perceived value as a friend or mate?

My applied psychology course, Environmental Psychology (Environmental Science 40), looks at behaviors that negatively affect the environment (i.e. meat eating), the psychology behind those behaviors (comfort, status, etc.), and what psychology can do to curb such environmentally deleterious behaviors.