The Society, Evolution, and Culture Lab team, with director Pierre Lienard, focuses on three major areas of investigation in a cognitive and evolutionary framework:

  • How social agents reduce risk in an uncertain world
  • How they coordinate into coalitions
  • How informal institutions facilitate cooperation in complex social worlds

The investigation of those research questions has required a particular framework involving ethnographic comparison between developing and developed worlds, oscillation between ethnography and experimental method, and consilience of disciplines (anthropology, evolutionary, and cognitive psychologies; behavioral ecology; and institutional studies).

Topics of Inquiry and Areas of Interest

  • Social anthropology, anthropology of politics, and evolutionary psychology
  • Cultures and cognition, cultural evolution
  • Political institutions, comparative politics, and political psychology
  • Social complexity and institutional designs of weakly centralized sociopolitical systems
  • Coalitional coordination and collective action
  • Signaling and uses of strategic information in specific social ecologies
  • Cooperation in threatening ecology
  • Trust allocation and precaution psychology in an uncertain world
  • Psychology of ritualized behavior