Aurelio J. Figueredo

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Aurelio José Figueredo (1955–) is an evolutionary psychologist. His research has been funded in part by the far-right Pioneer Fund.[1] As Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, Figueredo controversially accepted at least $458,000 from the Pioneer Fund, and partly used the money to attend the pseudoscientific London Conference on Intelligence alongside white supremacists; for this he has been widely criticized:

Andrew Winston, a psychology professor who teaches a class on scientific racism at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, said he believes it’s morally unacceptable for the University of Arizona to accept the foundation’s money. While the school must uphold academic freedom, it also has an obligation to promote "human rights, equality and diversity,” he said.

“The scientific racism supported by the Pioneer Fund is used by racial extremists around the world,” he said in an email.

Figueredo has used Pioneer Fund money for travel to the London Conference on Intelligence, a gathering that has included eugenics-themed presentations. Recent conferences were held at the University College London, which said in January that it didn’t endorse the gatherings and would investigate the content of presentations.[1]

Responding to criticism, Figueredo stated that he doesn't believe in racial inferiority and denounces eugenics. He added that he didn't feel his research was doing harm, even in light of taking cash from the Pioneer Fund. Regarding the London Conference on Intelligence, he stated it was "not about eugenics",[1] although some presentations there were. (See: London Conference on Intelligence § Woodley et al. 2018.)

Personality trait research[edit]

Figueredo co-authored a 1997 paper with James E. King which applied Big Five personality traitsWikipedia to chimpanzees residing in zoos. Chimps were judged based on dozens of adjectives, including: "clumsy", "autistic", "stingy", and "manipulative". King and Figueredo anticipate skepticism towards the paper, but aim to dispel it.[2] Even among humans, "Big Five" personality measures may not hold the same validity between cultures.[3]

London Conference on Intelligence papers[edit]

See the main article on this topic: London Conference on Intelligence


Relative Frequencies of Ngram-Tracked Historical (AD 1850-2000) Anglophone Usage of Darwin's (1871) Group-Selected "Altruistic Words" Versus Wordsum "Easy Words" and "Hard Words"

Speaker: Aurelio José Figueredo

Co-authors: Heitor B. F. Fernandes, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Guy Madison

Following predictions originally made by Darwin (1871), Woodley & Figueredo (2013) proposed a multilevel selection model in which “eminence”, being a relatively rare combination of high g and altruism, was selected for in the process of inter-group competition and selected against in the concurrent process of in inter-individual competition. There should be associations at the aggregate level between higher levels of cognitive ability and behavioural dispositions that are “altruistic”. No such relation is evident at the individual level, as reflected by the small correlations between g and K, with the latter indicating a “slower” and generally more prosocial life history strategy. Further, the multilevel selection model implies that any temporal trends over historical time showing aggregate changes in cognitive ability should predict the temporal trajectories of any historical trends manifested in aggregate group-selected altruism. To test these predictions, we used Google Ngram to track the relative frequencies of word-usage from 1850-2000 in the Anglophone literature of a sampling of 10 words used by Darwin (1871) to describe altruistic dispositions as lexical indicators of that tendency. An unconditional growth curve multilevel regression model showed that the use of these words declined significantly over the specified historical period, even when controlling for word age, changing literacy rates, and the cognitive load of each individual word. We then constructed two separate unit-weighted factor scales from the subsets of Wordsum items identified as “hard” ̶ theoretically indicating heritable general mental ability (g.h) ̶ and “easy” ̶ theoretically indicating environmentally-influenced specialized mental abilities (s.e) ̶ that in previous work, were observed to be trending historically in opposite directions since AD 1850, consistent with predictions from the co-occurence model. Unconditional growth curve multilevel regression models also confirmed that these two factor scales collectively increased or decreased significantly over the specified time period exactly as had their individual components. Next, a conditional growth curve multilevel regression model showed that the use of “altruistic” words was significantly disfavoured by higher levels of s.e, which had been increasing over time, but significantly favoured by higher levels of g.h, which had been decreasing over time. The use of “altruistic” words was significantly disfavoured by the item difficulty of each word, and this effect had statistically significant and contrary interactions with s.e and g.h. Even when statistically controlled for these effects, the residual temporal trajectory of the use of “altruistic” words was still significantly negative, indicating that these predictors only account for half of the systematic variance of the observed declines in aggregate altruistic dispositions over time. These findings support the predictions of the multilevel selection model in documenting specific temporal associations between the general and specialized components of human mental ability consistent with multi-level selection.


Positive effects of intergroup competition upon ingroup collectivism, slow life history, human capital, and intelligence: The case of historical Japan

Speaker: Heitor B. F. Fernandes

Co-authors: Kenya Kura, Aurelio José Figueredo

Competition between groups has been argued to select for ingroup altruism, slow life history, intelligence, and related psychosocial traits evolutionarily. To test if such effects can be observed over historical time in human populations, we used prefecture-level data on the major military events that occurred since AD 1000 in Japan. Positive effects of per-capita frequency of battles (PCFB) during the highly competitive Warring States period were observed to positively predict prefecture-level collectivism (cohesion and self-sacrifice within extended families), slow life history (an aggregate of longevity, reversed fertility rate, reversed infant mortality, height), intelligence (national achievement tests with adolescent students), and human capital (an aggregate of percentage of high-school graduates pursuing further education, employment rate, socioeconomic position, income, savings), but not social capital (an aggregate of trust in and frequency of socializing with others, and volunteer activity in the community). PCFB in previous and subsequent more peaceful periods, during which conflict was not consistent, showed weaker and less interpretable effects. Prefectures which were more victimized by WW-II bombings present faster life history, lower intelligence and human capital, and more social capital, as targeted prefectures were not necessarily those that were more socially organized for and engaged in competition against enemies. No period predicted psychological health (an aggregate of life satisfaction, happiness, peace of mind, energy, reversed hopelessness, reversed depression and loneliness, reversed impacts of mental-health problems). We discuss the usefulness of theories of group selection, individual selection, and proximate effects for understanding the results.

Allegations of racism[edit]

Although Figueredo denies allegations of racism, he sits on the Advisory Board of the Mankind Quarterly (a racist pseudoscholarly journal in which he has also co-authored multiple articles) although he commented in 2018 that he was not involved with reviewing racially charged papers, per AZCentral.[1] In 2009 he co-authored a paper with the Pioneer Fund’s president at the time, J. Philippe Rushton (died 2012) who was infamous for race and IQ pseudoscience.[4][1] In 2018, Figueredo co-signed a letter alongside many others (again, see: London Conference on Intelligence § Woodley et al. 2018) critical of criticism towards hereditarian papers; the letter especially characterizes Stephen Jay Gould's book, The Mismeasure of Man, as a case of apparent "controversialization" of intelligence research, creating what the letter says is a chilling effect.[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Michael Kunzelman (August 24, 2018). "University of Arizona accepted $458,000 from infamous eugenics fund". The Arizona Republic. The Associated Press.
  2. King, James E.; Figueredo, Aurelio José (1997-06-01). "The Five-Factor Model plus Dominance in Chimpanzee Personality" (in en). Journal of Research in Personality 31 (2): 257–271. doiWikipedia:10.1006/jrpe.1997.2179. ISSN 0092-6566. 
  3. Laajaj, Rachid; Macours, Karen; Pinzon Hernandez, Daniel Alejandro; Arias, Omar; Gosling, Samuel D.; Potter, Jeff; Rubio-Codina, Marta; Vakis, Renos (2019). "Challenges to capture the big five personality traits in non-WEIRD populations" (in en). Science Advances 5 (7): eaaw5226. doiWikipedia:10.1126/sciadv.aaw5226. ISSN 2375-2548. PMID 31309152. 
  4. Figueredo, Aurelio José; Rushton, J. Philippe (2009). "Evidence for shared genetic dominance between the general factor of personality, mental and physical health, and life history traits". Twin Research and Human Genetics: The Official Journal of the International Society for Twin Studies 12 (6): 555–563. doiWikipedia:10.1375/twin.12.6.555. ISSN 1832-4274. 
  5. Woodley of Menie, Michael A.; Dutton, Edward; Figueredo, Aurelio-José; Carl, Noah; Debes, Fróði; Hertler, Steven; Irwing, Paul; Kura, Kenya et al. (2018-09-01). "Communicating intelligence research: Media misrepresentation, the Gould Effect, and unexpected forces". Intelligence 70: 84–87. doiWikipedia:10.1016/j.intell.2018.04.002. ISSN 0160-2896.