Understanding social behaviours requires both proximate and ultimate explanations. Proximate explanations seek to understand how a given behaviour works - what are its cognitive bases? - while ultimate explanations aim to explain why it exists - why was it selected by evolution?


Over the last twenty years, these two perspectives have developed relatively independently from each other. On the one hand, cognitive psychology studies the workings of mechanisms that are dedicated to the social world: communication, cooperation, political attitudes, moral judgments, social motivation, cultural transmission, reputation, etc. On the other hand, evolutionary biology investigates the function of these mechanisms: Why are humans both altruistic and selfish? How can communication develop if cheating and manipulation are possible? Are humans specifically adapted to culture?

The goal of the Evolution and Social Cognition group is to bring these two strands of research together and to bridge the gap between evolutionary psychology and public policies.

Our research borrows tools from both biology and cognitive sciences: evolutionary modeling, experimental psychology, game theory, economic games, developmental psychology, psychopathology, and economic history.