Guiding Questions


cumulative cultural evolutionWhat drove human evolution? How did our species go from being a relatively unremarkable primate a few million years ago to the most successful species on the globe?

How has culture shaped our species genetic evolution, including our physiology, anatomy and psychology?

How can we use evolutionary theory to understand how people learn and transmit culture, and how does this lay a foundation for building a theory of cultural evolution?

How can we understand human social status? What’s the nature of prestige?

How can we explain the breadth, intensity and peculiar character of human sociality and cooperation?

What role has war and other forms of intergroup conflict played in human evolution, particularly in the evolution of cooperation and sociality?

In only about 12,000 years, how did human societies expand from relatively small-scale hunter-gatherer bands to vast and complex nation states?

What drives innovation and the process of cumulative cultural evolution?

How does cultural evolution shape our psychology, brains, motivations, hormonal responses, intuitive reactions, beliefs, worldviews and preferences? How can we account for the immense psychological variation we observe across the globe?

How can we explain the peculiar psychological and behavioral patterns observed in societies that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD societies)?



Joe Henrich on Twitter

  • natvelali
    natvelali Notes from Dorsa Amir’s stunning talk on the development of decision-making across diverse societies. (1/2)
  • ReligionHistory
    ReligionHistory This entry on the Lakalai was coded by Dr. Thomas White at Otago University. He converted the data collected by Pulotu into the questionnaire model we use. There is also a link back to the original data on Pulotu in the top right.
  • ReligionHistory
    ReligionHistory The process of studying global religions in the historical past has to be a collaborative effort, the DRH works with other projects to bring collections of data into our coding scheme... here's an example of such an entry from the Pulotu project.
  • LabHecht
    LabHecht How very cool! I’ve just discovered that one of the talented postdocs in our lab interviewed the other talented postdoc. Cheers to you both! Guess I should twitter more.
  • mnvrsngh
    mnvrsngh Been browsing old illustrated books on demons and witchcraft, and I'm blown away by how strange and imaginative people’s conceptions of mystical evildoers are. Here are some of my favorite books so far and the accompanying illustrations: