Nicolas Baumard

I am Research Director at the CNRS and Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure – PSL University 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 of the Master of Cognitive Sciences and the PhD Program of Cognitive Sciences where I teach ‘Introduction to Evolutionary Anthropology‘ and ‘Cultural Evolution‘ (here are some tips if you want to join our program).

I am an evolutionary social scientist: I am particularly interested in understanding how our evolved cognition (e.g., moral sense, exploratory preferences, romantic love, intellectual curiosity, etc.) can inform the structure and dynamics of social and cultural phenomena such as moral judgements, religious beliefs, political institutions, fictions and the arts.

My work is thus at the intersection of the natural sciences (evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, experimental psychology), the social sciences (social anthropology, economic history, political sciences) and the humanities (cultural history, moral philosophy, literary theory).

Here are some representative articles:

  1. Dubourg, E. & Baumard, N. (2021). Why imaginary worlds: The psychological foundations and cultural evolution of fictions with imaginary worlds, Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  2. Fitouchi, L., André, JB, and Baumard, N. (2021) The intertwined cultural evolution of ascetic spiritualities and puritanical religions as technologies of self-discipline, Religion, Brain & Behavior
  3. Jacquet, P.O., Pazhoohi, F., Findling C., Mell, H., Chevallier, C., Baumard, N. (2021) Predictive multivariate modelling of religiosity, prosociality and moralizing in 295,000 individuals from European and non-European populations, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
  4. Martin, M. & Baumard, N. (2020) The rise of prosociality in fiction preceded democratic revolutions in Early Modern Europe, PNAS
  5. Safra, L., Chevallier, C., Grèzes, J., Baumard, N. (2020) Tracking the rise of trust in history using machine learning and paintings, Nature Communications
  6. Baumard, N. (2019) Psychological Origins of the Industrial Revolution, Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  7. Baumard, N., & Chevallier, C. (2015). The nature and dynamics of world religions: a life-history approach. Proc. R. Soc. B
  8. Baumard, N., Hyafil, A. Morris, I., and Boyer, P., (2015) Increased affluence explains the emergence of ascetic wisdoms and moralizing religions. Current Biology
  9. Baumard, N. & Boyer, P., (2013) Explaining Moral Religions, Trends in Cognitive Sciences
  10. Baumard, N., André, J.B. et Sperber, D. (2013) A Mutualistic Theory of Morality: The Evolution of Fairness by Partner Choice, Behavioral and Brain Sciences

My current research projects are:

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).


I have an interdisciplinary academic training, combining degrees in the Humanities (BA and MA in Philosophy), Social Sciences (Licence in History, Master in Sociology), and the Natural Sciences (BA in Biology, MA in Cognitive Science). I did a PhD in Social Sciences under the supervision of cultural and cognitive scientist Dan Sperber. I then did a first post-doc at the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography of the University of Oxford and a second one at the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program of the University of Pennsylvania.


Frontiers in Cognition | DEC Département d'études cognitives
Agence nationale de la recherche — Wikipédia
Erasmus+ | EU programme for education, training, youth and sport

Institut Jean-Nicod
Département d’Études Cognitives
École Normale Supérieure – PSL University
75005 Paris (France)