Human Cultures through the Scientific Lens: Essays in Evolutionary Cognitive Anthropology - cover image


Pascal Boyer

Published On





  • English

Print Length

290 pages (vi+284)


Paperback156 x 20 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.79" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 24 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.94" x 9.21")


Paperback1223g (43.14oz)
Hardback1613g (56.90oz)



OCLC Number





  • JH
  • JHM
  • JHMC
  • PSA


  • SOC002000
  • SOC002010
  • SOC002020
  • SCI080000
  • SCI086000


  • GN502


  • anthropology
  • psychology
  • human evolution
  • social science
  • evolutionary biology
  • experimental psychology
  • economics
  • history
  • ritual
  • neuroscience
  • ethology
  • political science
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Human Cultures through the Scientific Lens

Essays in Evolutionary Cognitive Anthropology

This volume brings together a collection of seven articles previously published by the author, with a new introduction reframing the articles in the context of past and present questions in anthropology, psychology and human evolution. It promotes the perspective of ‘integrated’ social science, in which social science questions are addressed in a deliberately eclectic manner, combining results and models from evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, economics, anthropology and history. It thus constitutes a welcome contribution to a gradually emerging approach to social science based on E. O. Wilson’s concept of ‘consilience’.

Human Cultures through the Scientific Lens spans a wide range of topics, from an examination of ritual behaviour, integrating neuro-science, ethology and anthropology to explain why humans engage in ritual actions (both cultural and individual), to the motivation of conflicts between groups. As such, the collection gives readers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the applications of an evolutionary paradigm in the social sciences.

This volume will be a useful resource for scholars and students in the social sciences (particularly psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology and the political sciences), as well as a general readership interested in the social sciences.


1. Anthropology, Useful and Scientific: An Introduction

(pp. 1–10)
  • Pascal Boyer

2. Institutions and Human Nature

(pp. 11–14)
  • Pascal Boyer

The Naturalness of (Many) Social Institutions: Evolved Cognition as their Foundation

(pp. 15–48)
  • Pascal Boyer
  • Michael Bang Petersen

3. Why Ritualized Behavior?

(pp. 49–52)
  • Pascal Boyer

Why Ritualized Behavior? Precaution Systems and Action Parsing in Developmental, Pathological and Cultural Rituals

(pp. 53–112)
  • Pascal Boyer
  • Pierre Liénard

4. Social Groups and Adapted Minds

(pp. 113–116)
  • Pascal Boyer

Safety, Threat, and Stress in Intergroup Relations: A Coalitional Index Model

(pp. 117–154)
  • Pascal Boyer
  • Rengin Firat
  • Florian van Leeuwen

5. How People Think about the Economy

(pp. 155–158)
  • Pascal Boyer

Folk-Economic Beliefs: An Evolutionary Cognitive Model

(pp. 159–216)
  • Pascal Boyer
  • Michael Bang Petersen

6. Detecting Mental Disorder

(pp. 217–220)
  • Pascal Boyer

Intuitive Expectations and the Detection of Mental Disorder: A Cognitive Background to Folk-Psychiatries

(pp. 221–252)
  • Pascal Boyer

7. The Ideal of Integrated Social Science

(pp. 253–256)
  • Pascal Boyer

Modes of Scholarship in the Study of Culture

(pp. 257–274)
  • Pascal Boyer