Benjamin N. Colby

picture of Benjamin N. Colby

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
School of Social Sciences

PH.D., Harvard University, 1960
A.B. High Honors, Princeton University, 1953

Phone: 707-981-7019
Fax: 707-981-7019

University of California, Irvine
Box 466
1100 Valley Ford Freestone Road
Mail Code: 5100
Valley Ford, CA 94972
Research Interests
Culture theory; cultural pathology; psychological anthropology; cognition; cultural selection; adaptive potential, content analysis; narrative structures; Mesoamerica, Orange County California
Academic Distinctions
Grants from NIH, NSF, NIA, UCI
Research Abstract
My research interests are focused primarily on culture theory, cultural evolution, adaptive potential and the relationship between culture and stress. My data include life histories, diaries, interview material, scales, questionnaires, immunological, and other physiological measures. Techniques are primarily content analysis, artificial intelligence, and statistics. Groups studied include women of different ethnic groups and life stages (primarily Japanese American and Anglo American), international samples of undergraduates at UCI, and the Ixil Maya Indians of Guatemala.

Recent findings I am working with include correlations between health measures and overall measures of adaptive potential (which measures both psychological and cultural resiliency). This work, funded primarily by a National Institute on Aging grant, is largely unpublished pending the completion of a book manuscript describing these findings in the context of a systemic anthropological theory.
"The Influence of Adaptive Potential on Proximate Mechanisms of Natural Selection" (with C. Moore and K. Azevedo) Mathematical Anthropology and Culture Theory: an International Journal 1(3): 24. 2003.
"Toward a Theory of Culture and Adaptive Potential" Mathematical Anthropology and Culture Theory: an International Journal 1(3):5. 2003.
"Well-being: A Theoretical Program." American Anthropologist 89(4):879-895. 1987.
"The Japanese Tea Ceremony: Coherence Theory and Metaphor in Social Adaptation." In Beyond Metaphor: The Theory of Tropes in Anthropology, pp. 244-260. Ed. James W. Fernandez. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1991.
"On the Scientific Study of Folktales." Fabula: Zeitschrift fur Erzahlforschung 30. 1989.
The Daykeeper; the Life and Thought of an Ixil Diviner (with L.M. Colby) Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1981
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