Jeffrey Schank

Jeffrey Schank Portrait

Position Title

268D Young Hall


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Chicago, 1991


In addition to his academic appointment in the Department of Psychology, Jeffrey Schank directs the Agent-Based Models Lab, which uses agent-based models to understand the behavior of individuals and populations in social and evolutionary settings.

Research Focus

Professor Schank is interested in how complex group and social behaviors emerge from relatively simple rules of individual behavior. His work examines how these rules change in organisms as a consequence of development and social experience. To achieve these ends, he uses individual-based modeling as a tool for analyzing social behavior, discovering individual rules, and revealing how these rules change as a function of development and social experience. Professor Schank is also interested in the implications of this view for the evolution of social behavior and has general interests in historical and conceptual issues in the life sciences.


  • Smaldino P. E., Newson, L., Schank, J. C., & Richerson, P. J. (in press) Simulating the evolution of the human family: Cooperative breeding increases in harsh environments. PLoS ONE.
  • Smaldino, P. E., Schank, J. C., & McElreath, R. (accepted). Increased costs of cooperation help cooperators in the long run. American Naturalist.
  • Smaldino, P. E., Pickett, C. L., Sherman, J. W., & Schank, J. C. (in press). An Agent-Based Model of Social Identity Dynamics. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.
  • Schank, J. C., May, C. J., & Joshi, S. S. (in press). Models as scaffold for understanding. In L.R. Caporael, J.R. Griesemer, and W.C. Wimsatt (Eds.) Developing scaffolds in evolution, culture, and cognition, MIT Press.
  • Smaldino, P. E., & Schank, J. C. (2012) Movement patterns, social dynamics, and the evolution of cooperation. Theoretical Population Biology, 82: 48-58


Professor Schank specializes in the areas of biological psychology and quantitative methods. At UC Davis, he has taught courses in Developmental Psychobiology, Fundamentals of Animal Behavior and Agent-Based Modeling.