Nicolas Baumard (Group Leader)
I am interested in using evolutionary and psychological approaches in the social sciences, in particular in economics.
More specifically, I use:
- Biological market theory to explain why moral judgments and cooperative behaviors are based on considerations of fairness;
- Life-history theory to explain behavioral variability across culture, history, social classes and developmental stages;
- Dual process theory to explain the content of human reflections and religious thinking (in particular on morality and gods);
- all of the above to explain why some public policies naturally work better
I was trained as a theoretician in evolutionary biology, and I’m interested in understanding behavior, in particular human behavior, based on an evolutionary perspective. My work focuses on two major questions:
(1) Why is human cooperation universally constrained by the logic of fairness? To answer this question, I develop models in collaboration with Nicolas Baumard and Stéphane Debove. We show that, whereas pairwise reciprocity per se is undertermined (what economists call the folk theorem), the evolution of reciprocal cooperation becomes constrained by fairness principles when individuals can freely engage in a diverse range of social interactions, and choose among them.
(2) Why is reciprocal cooperation so rare among non humans but so frequent in humans? To answer this question, with the help of models, I show that reciprocal cooperation is not a regular form of adaptation that can evolve by natural selection. Rather its evolution, like the evolution of communication, requires the recycling of functions evolved intially for a different purpose. I’m interested in showing how this constraint explains both the rarity of reciprocal cooperation among non-humans, and the form that it takes in humans.
I am a behavioural scientist studying the evolutionary and cognitive determinants of social cognition. I have mainly focused on the way motivational factors affect people’s social cognition. More recently I have worked on the way stress, environmental harshness, and uncertainty impact a range of social and non-social decisions:
- prosociality and social trust
- political attitudes and religion
- health attitudes, fertility and parenting
The central hypothesis behind my work is that environmental and motivational factors alter individuals’ minds in significant ways and should be targeted upstream to improve people’s lives.
I am currently working on human social cognition, more precisely on the developmental puzzle about false-belief attribution in human childhood. Most preschoolers have been reliably shown to fail verbal false-belief tasks, but growing evidence based on non-verbal tests has also shown that preverbal infants expect an agent to act in accordance with the content of her (true or false) belief. I take the infant data at face value as evidence of false-belief attribution in human infancy and I propose a pragmatic explanation of the failure of most preschoolers on verbal false-belief tasks.
I am an evolutionary and cognitive psychologist working on the function and workings of reasoning. With Dan Sperber, we have developed the argumentative theory of reasoning, which offers a new function for human reasoning: to find and evaluate arguments so as to convince others and only be convinced when it is appropriate. I also study the cognitive mechanisms with which people evaluate communicated information.
I am interested in the cognitive mechanisms underlying social and political behaviour, notably leader choice and cooperation. In particular, I adopt an ecological and evolutionary approach to better understand the inter-individual differences in these domains, across both space and time. To do so, I rely on behavioral data, social surveys, computational modeling and, more recently, cultural artifacts such as paintings and books.
I am a cognitive neuroscientist interested in explaining social cognition, and in particular conformism, using evolutionary lense. My project in the Evolution and Social Cognition aims at using life-history theory to study how risk-taking explains inter-individual variability in social learning.
Mauricio Dias Martins
Medical Doctor with a PhD on the Evolution of Language. Previously worked as a neuroscientist investigating the neural bases underlying the representation of hierarchies.
Currently, I focus on the links between human psychology and social change. Like in language, the cultural variation of norms masks underlying similarities. These similarities, akin to a ‘grammar of society’, might result from biological and psychological constraints which limit moral, social and political variation.
In the current project, we text-mine fiction works, from different historical periods and countries, to map signatures of psychological states. We hypothesize that dominant psychological states in fiction might predict historical movements.
Rita Abdel Sater
I am interested in using nudges and behavioural approaches more generally to promote sustainable behaviour and cooperative behaviour in Paris. I'm interested in applying both economics and psychology to produce more efficient public policies.
I'm interested in the evolution of cooperation. I am using evolutionary robotics as a modelling and simulation tool in order to introduce a more realistic genotype to phenotype mapping.
Fascinated by apparently irrational beliefs and behaviors, I study the cognitive mechanisms underlying information transmission and evaluation. I try to predict what type of information is more likely to be accepted, transmitted, and memorized. Additionally, I’m working on new techniques of counter-argumentation to change people’s minds efficiently.
I am interested in understanding evolutionary bases of human social behaviors. More specifically I study local adaptations in behaviors. My beginning PhD is about the evolution of social trust throughout History based on the trustworthiness of figurative portraits.
I am trained in social and evolutionary psychology. Therefore, I am interested in explaining social phenomena from an evolutionary perspective. I am particularly interested in human cooperation, morality and mismatch theory. Currently I am using life-history theory to explain human variability in cooperative behavior.
I’m interested in the cognitive adaptations underlying the emergence of human social and moral norms. In particular, I am currently working on the cognitive and evolutionary roots of the cross-culturally recurrent intuitions about moral purity.
I am currently studying the cognitive and evolutionary determinants of individual interest for environmental issues and motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviour. I'm interested in the application of behavioural sciences to produce more successful public policies, especially in the domain of sustainable development.
Mélusine Boon Falleur
I am interested in understanding the determinants of consumption and in particular materialism. Are individuals who are exposed to harshness, unpredictability or inequality as children more likely to have materialistic values later in life? If we want people to reduce their consumption for environmental reasons, it is useful to understand what are factors of consumerism.
I am postdoctoral researcher for the FRONTSEM ERC project (directed by Philippe Schlenker, in collaboration with Emmanuel Chemla and Klaus Zuberbühler) and I work on the semantics of primate alarm calls
I am interested in how psychology can help to better understand and to improve institutions. Particularly, I am studying how advances in decision-making science can inform public policy in general and the institutional design of the judicial system.
Félix Geoffroy - PhD Student, 2015-2018
Hugo Mell - PhD Student, 2015-2018
Marc Pichot de La Marandais - Master Student (M2) 2017-2018
Christina Ioannou - PhD Student, 2014-2017
Perline Demange - M2 Student, 2016-2017
Stéphane Lambert - PhD Student 2013-2016
Martin Dockendorff - Master Student (M1) 2015-2016, now PhD Student in CEU.
Mona Joly - Master Student (M1) 2015-2016
Chloé Svatek - Master Student (M1) 2015-2016
Charlélie Goldschmidt - Master Student (M1) 2015-2016
Mark Sheskin - Post-doc 2013-2015, now post doc at Yale University
Stéphane Debove - PhD Student 2012-2015
Raphaël Delage - Master Student (M2) 2014-2015.
Céline Dusautois - Master Student (M2) 2014-2015.
Judith Lenglet - Master Student (M2) 2014-2015, now President of Cog'Innov.
Arnaud Poubland - Master Student (M1) 2014-2015
Lucien Castex - Master Student (M2) 2013-2014.
Helena Miton - Master Student (M2) 2013-2014, now PhD student at the CEU in Budapest
Tristan Tissot - Master Student (M2) 2013-2014, now PhD Student in Montpellier University