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[Paper Spotlight] Two new papers by Clark Barrett

Clark's on a roll with two terrific new papers.

Towards a Cognitive Science of the Human: Cross-Cultural Approaches and Their Urgency. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Link.

Abstract: While a major aim of cognitive science is to understand human cognition, our conclusions are based on unrepresentative samples of the world’s population. A new wave of cross-cultural cognitive science has sought to remedy this with studies that are increasing in scope, scale, and visibility. Here, I review the state of this new wave of research. The portrait of human cognition that emerges is one of variations on a theme, with species-typical capacities shaped by culture and individual experience. The new wave has expanded our understanding of processes underlying human variation and cumulative cultural change, including mechanisms of social learning and cultural transmission. Less consensus has been reached, however, on the cognitive foundations of human nature. The promise of cross-cultural cognitive science will not be fully realized unless we continue to be more inclusive of the world’s populations and strive for a more complete cognitive portrait of our species.


Deciding what to observe: Thoughts for a post-WEIRD generation.

Evolution and Human Behavior. Link.

Abstract: The evolutionary social sciences (ESSs) are thriving, and seem to have entered a period of normal science. This is a good time to examine our own practices, theoretical and empirical, and to ask how we might improve. Here I review papers published in the past five years in EHB to explore major trends in the field. Theoretically, the popularity of certain topics (cooperation, mating, life history) has led to great progress, but might have narrowed our theoretical vision. Empirically, most research is still conducted in WEIRD populations, with a smaller mode of research in small-scale societies, and very little in the middle. I offer suggestions for broadening our theoretical and empirical scope, centered around the project of constructing a representative map of the human psychological and behavioral phenome.


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