Adam Maxwell Sparks

My research typically investigates human cooperation, conflict, and risk-taking. I have worked at the University of Guelph Department of Psychology, the University of California Los Angeles Department of Anthropology and Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, and the McMaster University Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour.



These folks track what I do.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Holbrook, C., Fessler, D. M., Sparks, A. M., Johnson, D. L., Samore, T., & Reed, L. I. (2023). Coalitionality shapes moral elevation: Evidence from the U.S. Black Lives Matter protest and counter-protest movements. Royal Society Open Science. [full open access] [preprint]

Samore, T., Fessler, D.M.T., Sparks, A.M., Holbrook, C., Aarøe, L., Baeza, C.G., Barbato, M.T., Barclay, P., Contreras-Garduño, J., Costa Neves, B., del Pilar Grazioso, M., Elmas, P., Fernández, A.M., Garcia-Marques, L., Giraldo-Perez, P., Gul, P., Habacht, F., Hasan, Y., Hernandez, E.J., Jarmakowski, T., Kamble, S.V., Kameda, T., Kim, B., Kupfer, T., Kurita, M., Li, N.P., Lu, J., Luberti, F., Maegli, M.A., Mejía, M., Morvinski, C., Naito, A., Posner, D.N., Prokop, P., Shani, Y., Solorzano, W.O.P., Stieger, S., Suryani, A.O., Tan., L.K.L., Tybur, J.M., Viciana, H., Visine, A., Wang, J., Wang, X.T. (in press) Greater traditionalism predicts COVID-19 precautionary behaviors across 27 societies. Scientific Reports. preprint

Rotella A, Sparks AM, Mishra S, Barclay P (2021) No effect of ‘watching eyes’: An attempted replication and extension investigating individual differences. PLoS ONE 16(10): e0255531. open access

Kupfer, T., Fessler, D.M.T., Wu, B., Hwang, T., Sparks, A., Alas, S., Samore, T., Lal, V., Sakhamuru, T., & Holbrook, C. (2021) The skin crawls, the stomach turns. Ectoparasites and pathogens elicit distinct defensive responses in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 288(1955): 20210376. [pdf]

Samore, T., Fessler, D.M.T., Sparks, A.M., & Holbrook, C. (2021) Of pathogens and party lines: Social conservatism positively associates with COVID-19 precautions among U.S. Democrats but not Republicans. PLOS ONE 16(6): e0253326. [full open access] [preprint]

Dishakjian, V., Fessler, D.M.T., & Sparks, A.M. (2021). Live fast, die young, and sleep later: Life history strategy and human sleep behavior. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. [full open access via journal]

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 14(12): e0226071. doi: [full open access via journal] [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 for super official research purposes only]

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]

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]

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]

Other publications

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

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]

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]

In prep / under review / in revision


Sparks, A. M., Fessler, D. M., & Zinsser, M. (2019, October 7). Exploring the Roles of Conformity, Hazard, and Convenience in Risk Mitigation Decisions: An Observational Study of Helmet Use Among Bicyclists and E-Scooter Riders in Los Angeles During Two Natural Experiments. [preprint link] [Manuscript, data, code, Supplement on PsyArXiv]

Preprint not yet available

Sparks, A.M., Tiokhin, L., Wu, B., Fessler, D.M.T., Holbrook, C. & Ojigho, D. Preliminary studies of elevation—a prosocial emotion—in West Sumatra, Ghana, and China.

Song Hing, L., Stamarski, C.S., Yip, C.A., van der Werf, D., Mishra, S., Iacocca, R., Garcia, D., & Sparks, A.M. The price we pay: Adverse effects of too much inequality.

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