“Why Isn’t Everyone Happy All of the Time?: A Darwinian Approach to Understanding Mental Health”
Please join us as Dr. Jennifer Penner presents her research in the field of Comparative Psychology. She will describe how an understanding of the human evolutionary environment is essential to understanding why the brain functions the way it does, and more importantly, how and why the brain produces the unpleasant and potentially debilitating feelings and behaviors characteristic of psychological disorders. In particular, an evolutionary biology approach to psychopathology can illuminate how aspects of mental illness may have developed as a consequence of our modern environment, an exaggeration of otherwise adaptive traits, and/or side effects of other evolutionary processes or genetic traits. Moreover, evolutionary insight can offer solutions to some mental health problems.
Dr. Penner is the Julia Mobley Associate Professor of Psychology at Hendrix College. As a researcher specializing in comparative psychology and animal behavior, she studies the behavioral and cognitive adaptations that underlie behavior and decision-making in humans and non-human animals. Her research questions focus on the foraging behavior of small mammals and the mating and dating decision-making of humans. Her research has been published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.