Dr Gul Deniz Salali

Applied cultural evolution: Health behaviours in hunter-gatherers and beyond (Dr Gul Deniz Salali, University College London)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 14th January 2021
Type: Webinar / Category: Department
  • Admission: Free. Register in advance.
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Drawing upon my work on health behaviour in BaYaka hunter-gatherers from Congo and modern societies, I will talk about how cultural evolution theory can be applied to 1) understand how health-related behavioural patterns emerge in populations, and 2) design effective behaviour change solutions to urgent public health problems. The use of plants has been an essential function of the BaYaka culture, contributing to their health in the absence of modern medicine. I will first present my findings on how the BaYaka accumulates a rich medicinal plant repertoire, and how cultural and economic transitions results in the replacement of traditional treatment practices with the new products of cumulative culture. I will then talk about my ongoing work concerning the recent rise of vaccine hesitancy. Our survey in May 2020 with over 5000 UK and Turkish participants showed that hesitancy for a potential COVID-19 vaccination was much higher in Turkey and associated with beliefs on the origin of the SARS-CoV-2. Expanding on these results, I will explore the factors that may be contributing to the cross-cultural differences in vaccine hesitancy and discuss how we can use predictions from cultural evolution theory to design more effective health promotion messages.