Cultural Evolutionary Psychology – HBES Plenary 2021 | Michael Muthukrishna

Abstract: The last decade has seen a convergence between genetic and cultural evolution in the human sciences. New research often uses formal theoretical approaches, describes common human psychology grounded in a “theory of human behavior”, and predicts and tests global and historical variation using improved statistical and empirical methods. To unify this work under a common framework, I’ll introduce the Cultural Brain and Collective Brain Hypotheses. I’ll explain how these hypotheses shed light on our understanding of intelligence, innovation, cooperation and the “paradox of diversity”. Finally, I’ll discuss ways we can move beyond WEIRD psychology in a global collaborative manner, strengthen the links between basic and applied policy research (if it doesn’t work in the real world, it doesn’t work at all), and discuss the importance of historical psychology.

Bio: Michael Muthukrishna is Associate Professor of Economic Psychology and Affiliate of the STICERD Developmental Economics group at the London School of Economics (LSE), Technical Director of the Database of Religious History, and CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research program for Boundaries, Membership, and Belonging. His research focuses on human biological and cultural evolution and how the “theory of human behavior” that emerges from this research can be used to improve innovation, reduce corruption, and increase cross-cultural cooperation. His work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, Scientific American, Nature News, and Science News. He advises both governments and organizations. Michael’s research is informed by his educational background in engineering and psychology, with graduate training in evolutionary biology, economics, and statistics, and his personal background living in Sri Lanka, Botswana, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom. He is currently working on a book to be published with MIT Press. More information available here:

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