The History of our Minds: Evidence for Co-Evolution of Cultural and Psychological Processes


Biologically modern humans are more than 100,000 years old. Many scientists have devoted their lives to understanding how architecture, social structure, and language has changed over this history. Yet we know much less about the history of human minds. Behavioral science research has instead focused nearly exclusively on contemporary people, and psychological theories often draw from taxonomies which assume a culturally and historically stable structure to emotion, personality, morality, and other psychological processes. In this talk, I discuss new methods of studying the “psychological fossil record,” with emerging insights that challenge existing psychological taxonomies. Psychological change is often patterned and predictable based on cultural change, and general evolutionary principles may explain psychological changes in multiple domains. We now have the methodological and theoretical tools to build a more historically enriched science of human cognition and behavior, with a basic capacity to make foundational discoveries and an applied capacity to predict human futures. 


Prof. Joshua Conrad Jackson

Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science

University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

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