I am Research Director at the CNRS and Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. I work in the Evolution and Social Cognition team, at the Institut Jean-Nicod, in the Department of Cognitive Sciences.
I supervise the ‘Social Sciences’ track in the Master of Cognitive Sciences and in the PhD Program of Cognitive Sciences where I teach ‘Introduction to Evolutionary Anthropology‘ and ‘Cultural Evolution‘.
I am an evolutionary social scientist: I believe that our evolved human nature (our moral sense, our social cognition, our behavioral plasticity, etc.) is key to understand the structure and dynamics of social and cultural phenomena.
I am particularly interested in how human nature can explain the variability of mentalities and behaviors throughout history, and the existence of phenomena such as moral judgments, religious beliefs and works of art that may seem a priori non-adaptive.
My work is thus at the intersection of the natural sciences (evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology) and the social sciences (cultural history, social anthropology, moral philosophy, economic history, literary theory).
My current research projects are:
- Cultural changes in history: I use Life-History Theory to explain long-term changes in mentalities, preferences, beliefs and behaviors (here is a short summary focusing on the birth of moralizing religions, and here is a more general one on cultural evolution)
- The structure of human morality: I use Reciprocity Theory (in particular partner choice) to explain why moral judgments and cooperative behaviors are based on considerations of fairness (here is a short summary, and here are a series of Youtube videos by Stephane Debove, a former PhD student of mine);
I also collaborate on related projects:
My publications are indexed on Google Scholar. I used to blog at the International of Cognition and Culture Institute and to write a monthly column on psychology and public policies in Cerveau&Psycho (in French).
Département d’Études Cognitives
75005 Paris (France)