Publications

2010
Broesch, Tanya Lynn, Tara Callaghan, Joseph Henrich, Christine Murphy, and Philippe Rochat. “Cultural Variations in Children's Mirror Self-Recognition.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42, no. 6 (2010): 1019-1031.Abstract

Western children first show signs of mirror self-recognition (MSR) from 18 to 24 months of age, the benchmark index of emerging self-concept. Such signs include self-oriented behaviors while looking at the mirror to touch or remove a mark surreptitiously placed on the child’s face. The authors attempted to replicate this finding across cultures using a simplified version of the classic “mark test.” In Experiment 1, Kenyan children (N = 82, 18 to 72 months old) display a pronounced absence of spontaneous self-oriented behaviors toward the mark. In Experiment 2, the authors tested children in Fiji, Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Peru (N = 133, 36 to 55 months old), as well as children from urban United States and rural Canada. As expected from existing reports, a majority of the Canadian and American children demonstrate spontaneous self-oriented behaviors toward the mark. However, markedly fewer children from the non-Western rural sites demonstrate such behaviors. These results suggest that there are profound cross-cultural differences in the meaning of the MSR test, questioning the validity of the mark test as a universal index of self-concept in children’s development.

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Henrich, Joseph, and Natalie Henrich. “The evolution of cultural adaptations: Fijian food taboos protect against dangerous marine toxins.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277, no. 1701 (2010): 3715-3724. PDF Supplement
Atran, S., and J. Henrich. “The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions.” Biological Theory 5, no. 1 (2010): 1-13. PDF
Foulsham, Thomas, Joey Cheng, Jessica Tracy, Joseph Henrich, and Alan Kingstone. “Gaze Allocation in a Dynamic Social Situation of Social Status and Speaking.” Cognition 117, no. 3 (2010): 319-331. PDF
Richerson, P. J., R. Boyd, and J. Henrich. “Gene-culture coevolution in the age of genomics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (2010): 8985-8992.Abstract

The use of socially learned information (culture) is central to human adaptations. We investigate the hypothesis that the process of cultural evolution has played an active, leading role in the evolution of genes. Culture normally evolves more rapidly than genes, creating novel environments that expose genes to new selective pressures. Many human genes that have been shown to be under recent or current selection are changing as a result of new environments created by cultural innovations. Some changed in response to the development of agricultural subsistence systems in the Early and Middle Holocene. Alleles coding for adaptations to diets rich in plant starch (e.g., amylase copy number) and to epidemic diseases evolved as human populations expanded (e.g., sickle cell and deficiency alleles that provide protection against malaria). Large-scale scans using patterns of linkage disequilibrium to detect recent selection suggest that many more genes evolved in response to agriculture. Genetic change in response to the novel social environment of contemporary modern societies is also likely to be occurring. The functional effects of most of the alleles under selection during the last 10,000 years are currently unknown. Also unknown is the role of paleoenvironmental change in regulating the tempo of hominin evolution. Although the full extent of culture-driven gene-culture coevolution is thus far unknown for the deeper history of the human lineage, theory and some evidence suggest that such effects were profound. Genomic methods promise to have a major impact on our understanding of gene-culture coevolution over the span of hominin evolutionary history.

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Henrich, J., J. Ensminger, R. McElreath, A. Barr, C. Barrett, A. Bolyanatz, J. C. Cardenas, et al.Markets, religion, community size and the evolution of fairness and punishment.” Science 327, no. 5972 (2010): 1480-1484. Audio File PDF Supplement Science Perspective by Karla Hoff
Henrich, J., S. J. Heine, and A. Norenzayan. “Most people are not WEIRD.” Nature 466, no. 7302 (2010): 29-29. PDF
Cheng, Joey T, Jessica L Tracy, and Joseph Henrich. “Pride, personality, and the evolutionary foundations of human social status.” Evolution and Human Behavior 31, no. 5 (2010): 334-347. PDF
Henrich, Joseph, Steven J Heine, and Ara Norenzayan. “The weirdest people in the world?Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33, no. 2-3 (2010): 61-83. Audio File PDF Coverage in Science
Gervais, W., and J. Henrich. “The Zeus Problem:Why Representational Content Biases Cannot Explain Faith in Gods.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 10, no. 3-4 (2010): 383-389. PDF
2009
Shariff, A., A. Norenzayan, and J. Henrich. “The Birth of High Gods: How the cultural evolution of supernatural policing agents influenced the emgerence of complex, cooperative human societies, paving the way for civilization.” In Evolution, Culture and the Human Mind, edited by Mark Schaller, Ara Norenzayan, Steve Heine, Toshi Yamaguishi, and Tatsuya Kameda, 119-136. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2009. PDF
Brosnan, S. F., J. B. Silk, J. Henrich, M. C. Mareno, S. P. Lambeth, and S. J. Schapiro. “Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) do not develop contingent reciprocity in an experimental task.” Animal Cognition 12, no. 4 (2009): 587-597.Abstract

Chimpanzees provide help to unrelated individuals in a broad range of situations. The pattern of helping within pairs suggests that contingent reciprocity may have been an important mechanism in the evolution of altruism in chimpanzees. However, correlational analyses of the cumulative pattern of interactions over time do not demonstrate that helping is contingent upon previous acts of altruism, as required by the theory of reciprocal altruism. Experimental studies provide a controlled approach to examine the importance of contingency in helping interactions. In this study, we evaluated whether chimpanzees would be more likely to provide food to a social partner from their home group if their partner had previously provided food for them. The chimpanzees manipulated a barpull apparatus in which actors could deliver rewards either to themselves and their partners or only to themselves. Our findings indicate that the chimpanzees' responses were not consistently influenced by the behavior of their partners in previous rounds. Only one of the 11 dyads that we tested demonstrated positive reciprocity. We conclude that contingent reciprocity does not spontaneously arise in experimental settings, despite the fact that patterns of behavior in the field indicate that individuals cooperate preferentially with reciprocating partners.

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O'Gorman, R., J. Henrich, and M. Van Vugt. “Constraining free riding in public goods games: designated solitary punishers can sustain human cooperation.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 276, no. 1655 (2009): 323-329.Abstract

Much of human cooperation remains an evolutionary riddle. Unlike other animals, people frequently cooperate with non-relatives in large groups. Evolutionary models of large-scale cooperation require not just incentives for cooperation, but also a credible disincentive for free riding. Various theoretical solutions have been proposed and experimentally explored, including reputation monitoring and diffuse punishment. Here, we empirically examine an alternative theoretical proposal: responsibility for punishment can be borne by one specific individual. This experiment shows that allowing a single individual to punish increases cooperation to the same level as allowing each group member to punish and results in greater group profits. These results suggest a potential key function of leadership in human groups and provides further evidence supporting that humans will readily and knowingly behave altruistically.

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Henrich, Joseph. “The evolution of costly displays, cooperation and religion: Credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution.” Evolution and Human Behavior 30, no. 4 (2009): 244-260. PDF
Henrich, J.The Evolution of Innovation-Enhancing Institutions.” In Innovation in Cultural Systems: Contributions in Evolution Anthropology, edited by Stephen J. Shennan and Michael J. O'Brien. Cambridge: MIT, 2009. PDF
2008
Heine, S, T Takemoto, S Moskalenk, J Lasaleta, and J Henrich. “ Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34, no. 7 (2008): 879-887. Publisher's Version
Vonk, J., S. F. Brosnan, J. B. Silk, J. Henrich, A. S. Richardson, S. P. Lambeth, S. J. Schapiro, and D. J. Povinelli. “Chimpanzees do not take advantage of very low cost opportunities to deliver food to unrelated group members.” Animal Behaviour 75, no. 5 (2008): 1757-1770.Abstract

We conducted experiments on two populations of chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, to determine whether they would take advantage of opportunities to provide food rewards to familiar group members at little cost to themselves. In both of the experiments described here, chimpanzees were able to deliver identical rewards to themselves and to other members of their social groups. We compared the chimpanzees' behaviour when they were paired with another chimpanzee and when they were alone. If chimpanzees are motivated to provide benefits to others, they are expected to consistently deliver rewards to others and to distinguish between the partner-present and partner-absent conditions. Results from both experiments indicate that our subjects were largely indifferent to the benefits they could provide to others. They were less likely to provide rewards to potential recipients as the experiment progressed, and all but one of the 18 subjects were as likely to deliver rewards to an empty enclosure as to an enclosure housing another chimpanzee. These results, in conjunction with similar results obtained in previous experiments, suggest that chimpanzees are not motivated by prosocial sentiments to provide food rewards to other group members. The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Henrich, J.A cultural species.” In Explaining Culture Scientifically, edited by Melissa Brown, 184-210. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008. PDF
Henrich, Joseph, and Robert Boyd. “Division of labor, economic specialization, and the evolution of social stratification.” Current Anthropology 49, no. 4 (2008): 715-724. PDF
Five misunderstandings about cultural evolution
Henrich, Joseph, Robert Boyd, and Peter J Richerson. “Five misunderstandings about cultural evolution.” Human Nature 19, no. 2 (2008): 119-137. PDF

Pages