The goal of the evolution, culture and cognition lab is to advance our understanding human evolution, with a focus on behavior and cognition. We are part of the Adaptation, Behavior, Culture & Society research group at Arizona State University. If you're interested in joining the lab, see the opportunities page.
We study human biology from an evolutionary perspective. This requires investigating to what extent human mind and behavior is the adaptive product of natural selection. In addition, it is important to understand the conditions that favored the evolution of specific behaviors or cognitive abilities and how our development was modified to produce them. Answers to these questions require a range of approaches, including mathematical modeling, developmental and mechanistic studies of humans and comparisons with other species.
We take a cultural evolutionary approach: studying culture as a biological phenomenon that evolves semi-independently of genes. As culture heavily influences human behavior, a complete account of human evolution needs to include both genetic and cultural components. Moreover, because culture can interact with genetic evolution, it is often most valuable to develop combined, gene-culture coevolutionary explanations.
Because culture is a key player in human evolution, it is crucial to understand how culture itself evolved and operates. This requires a detailed study of the human mind to identify and understand the cognitive mechanisms that support culture, such as language, sociality and cooperation. In addition we explore how these mechanisms affect the evolution of culture itself, driving the spread of certain ideas or beliefs.