Adam Maxwell Sparks

I study human behavior in light of evolutionary theory, currently as a postdoc at UCLA in the Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and Department of Anthropology.


Our benevolent overlords have compiled their own dossier of my activities and influence.

Rotella, A., Sparks, A. M., & Barclay, P. (2020). Feelings of obligation are valuations of signaling-mediated social payoffs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43, E85. doi:10.1017/S0140525X19002322

Sparks, A. M., Fessler, D. M.T., & Holbrook, C. (2019). Elevation, an emotion for prosocial contagion, is experienced more strongly by those with greater expectations of the cooperativeness of others. PLoS ONE. doi: Preprint: [Manuscript, data, code, Supplement on PsyArXiv]

Fessler DMT, Sparks AM, Samore T, Holbrook C (2019). Does observing reciprocity or exploitation affect elevation, a mechanism driving prosociality? Evolutionary Human Sciences 1, e3, 1 - 11. [manuscript & supplement] [data, code materials]

Samore T., Fessler D.M.T., Holbrook C., Sparks A.M. (2018) Electoral fortunes reverse, mindsets do not. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0208653. [full open access]

Barclay, P., Mishra, S., & Sparks, A.M. (2018). State-dependent risk-taking. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285, 20180180. doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.0180 [manuscript]

Pollack, J.,* Holbrook, C.,* Fessler, D.M.T., Sparks, A.M., & Zerbe, J.G. (2018). May God guide our guns: Visualized supernatural aid heightens team confidence in a paintball battle simulation. Human Nature 29, 311-327. (* equal authorship.) [manuscript]

Sparks, A.M., Fessler, D.M.T., Chan, K.Q., Ashokkumar, A., and Holbrook, C. (2018) Disgust as a mechanism of decision making under risk: Illuminating sex differences and individual risk-taking correlates of disgust propensity. Emotion 18, 942-958. doi:10.1037/emo0000389 [manuscript] [supplement] [ data, code, etc ] [fancy pdf]

Mishra, S., Barclay, P., & Sparks, A. (2017). The relative state model: Integrating need-based and ability-based pathways to risk-taking. Personality and Social Psychology Review 21, 176-198. doi:10.1177/1088868316644094 [paper]

Sparks, A., Burleigh, T. & Barclay, P. (2016). We can see inside: Accurate prediction of Prisoner's Dilemma decisions in announced games following a face-to-face interaction. Evolution and Human Behavior 37, 210-216. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.11.003 [paper, data, analysis code, materials] or [open access via journal: paper, data, analysis code, materials]

Kafashan, S., Sparks, A., Rotella, A., & Barclay, P. (2016). Why Heroism Exists: Evolutionary Perspectives on Extreme Helping. In S.T.Allison, G.R.Goethals, & R.M.Kramer (Eds.) The Handbook of Heroism and Heroic Leadership, pp. 36-57. Routledge. [chapter]

Sparks, A. & Barclay, P. (2015). No effect on condemnation of short or long exposure to eye images. Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science. doi:10.5178/lebs.2015.35 [paper] or [open access via journal to paper, data, supplement]

Kafashan, S.,* Sparks, A.,* Griskevicius, V., & Barclay, P. (2014). Prosocial behaviour and social status. In J. T. Cheng, J. L. Tracy, & C. Anderson (Eds.) The Psychology of Social Status, pp. 139-158. New York, NY: Springer. (* equal authorship.) [chapter]

Sparks, A., Barclay, P. & Mishra, S. (2013). Fundamental freedoms and the psychology of threat, bargaining, and inequality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (05), 500-501. [commentary]

Sparks, A., & Barclay, P. (2013). Eye images increase generosity, but not for long: the limited effect of a false cue. Evolution and Human Behavior 34 (5), 317-322. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.05.001 [paper], [supplement], [data], [data guide]


Fessler, D. M., Sparks, A. M., & Zinsser, M. (2019, October 7). An Extended Observational Study of Helmet Use Among Bicyclists and E-Scooter Riders in Los Angeles. [Manuscript, data, code, Supplement on PsyArXiv]

In prep

Sparks, A.M., Fessler, D.M.T., & Holbrook, C. Metaphors associated with prosocial affect.

Sparks, A.M., Burleigh, T. & Barclay, P. Expressing disapproval maintains public goods contributions, but not for long: The limited effect of an empty threat.