(Posted March 10, 2014)

David Widman, professor of psychology
David Widman, professor of psychology

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A psychology professor at Juniata College, David Widman, will give a lecture on "Religion, Reproduction and Evolution" at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 19, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Widman's talk is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture Series, which offers monthly lectures from Juniata faculty during the school year.

Widman, who teaches many of the college's behavioral psychology courses, will outline how evolutionary psychologists have theorized that religion may be an evolved human behavior and in fact may still have an influence in shaping human evolution today.

"One theory suggests that today religion acts as a signal that an individual wants to have lots of children and will be faithful to their spouse," Widman explains.

Widman will discuss previous studies on the topic, which showed that religious individuals desire and have fewer sexual partners and have more children. He also will discuss his own findings, gathered at Juniata and during his research sabbatical at SUNY-New Paltz, that indicate that while religious individuals indeed want more children, other religious individuals question the promise of faithfulness in some cases.

"One theory suggests that today religion acts as a signal that an individual wants to have lots of children and will be faithful to their spouse."

David Widman

Widman came to Juniata in 1999 as assistant professor of psychology. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wyoming and went on to earn a doctoral degree in biopsychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York.

A Huntingdon resident, Widman started his academic career as an assistant professor at Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Mich. He has also served as an assistant professor and postdoctoral research associate at Indiana University and a graduate research assistant at the University of Albany.

He has taught courses ranging from general psychology and experimental methods to physiological psychology, motivations and research methods.‚?®‚?®His research has been published in such journals as "Physiology and Behavior," "Society for Neuroscience," and "Journal of Comparative Psychology."

He has also presented research at multiple conferences including the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, Tri-State Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior, and numerous appearances at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychology Association. ‚?®‚?®He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Eastern Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.