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Joseph Henrich

How Culture Drove Human Evolution

November 9, 2012

Joseph Henrich is a Canadian research chair in culture, cognition and evolution in the departments of psychology and economics at the University of British Columbia. Drawing on evolutionary modeling, cross-cultural and cross-species comparisons, laboratory experiments on social learning, and quantitative ethnographic work in small-scale societies, Henrich argues that our species’ long reliance on this second system of inheritance, and its ever accumulating and complex adaptive products, has driven the expansion of human brains while shaping our cognitive abilities, manual dexterity, status psychology, gut size, and social inclinations. More broadly, his research suggests that understanding human evolution requires considering the interaction between genetic and cultural inheritance systems.