What does cultural evolutionary psychological and behavioral science look like?
Monday, Oct. 30, 2023 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)
London School of Economics
In a new book, A Theory of Everyone: Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going, Michael Muthukrishna argues that the psychological and behavioral sciences are in the midst of a scientific revolution on the scale of Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, the periodic table, and Darwinian evolution. It is a revolution moving us from alchemy to chemistry and one that is bringing order to chaos and laying the path from science to technology – in this case, policy applications. This emerging science is grounded in a formal general theory that recognizes that our psychology and behavior are governed by millions of years of genetic evolution, our genetic inheritance as an African ape; thousands of years of cultural evolution, our cultural inheritance a product of path dependencies and cultural adaptations in the various ecologies we’ve thrived in across the planet; and a short lifetime of experience, tuning these other two lines of informational inheritance. This revolution has 3 parts: (1) general and specific, ultimate and proximate formal theories that make falsifiable predictions for universal and culturally specific psychology and behavior; (2) new tools for measuring and analyzing psychology and culture through large datasets, field and lab experiments; (3) real world tests using policy interventions, guided by the principle that if your theories don’t work in the real world, they don’t work at all.
Michael Muthukrishna is Associate Professor of Economic Psychology and Affiliate in Developmental Economics and in Data Science 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 (CIFAR) 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 and has won several awards for his research. 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 the author of “A Theory of Everyone: Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going”.
For more information, please see his website: https://michael.muthukrishna.com/
A Theory of Everyone: Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going is out September 28th. Available to pre-order: https://linktr.ee/theoryofeveryone