About the CEP

Evolutionary psychology has rapidly developed into a multidisciplinary integrative research framework within which cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, cultural anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, paleoanthropologists, hunter-gatherer researchers, primatologists, developmental psychologists, social psychologists, behavioral ecologists, and others are communicating and collaborating about issues of mutual relevance. The UCSB Center for Evolutionary Psychology brings together research teams with expertise in these fields to identify and progressively map (1) the recurrent adaptive problems and selection pressures our hunter-gatherer ancestors faced, (2) the cognitive modules and emotion programs that evolved to solve these problems, (3) the neural implementation of these mechanisms, (4) how these specialized mechanisms systematically pattern individual behavior and social interactions, and (5) how these mechanisms regulate the transmission of cultural representations from mind to mind, generating and shaping culture.

Research approaches pursued by Center affiliates include:

  • Laboratory-based cognitive experimentation
  • Field studies of tribal and foraging peoples
  • Agent-based models
  • Cross-cultural experimentation and observation
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Social psychological and survey methods
  • Developmental studies
  • Theoretical biology

UCSB Scientists affiliated with the Center have investigated:

  • Reasoning instincts: modules functionally specialized for reasoning about cooperation, exchange, threat, hazard avoidance, groups, and sharing
  • The functional design of emotions such as love, jealousy and disgust
  • The adaptive organization of the evolved modules of social cognition
  • Individual and group status and its cognitive basis
  • The investigation of human psychological universals
  • Mate choice, attractiveness, and human sexuality
  • Mechanisms for incest avoidance
  • Coalitional psychology and ethnocentrism
  • Violence, intergroup conflict and war
  • Judgment under uncertainty and decision-making specializations designed to reflect the ecological structure of the world
  • Foraging adaptations
  • Communicative functions of facial expression
  • Evolved inference engines for modeling the physical, biological, animate, and social worlds
  • Memory, inference, and the dynamics of cultural transmission

The Center for Evolutionary Psychology is in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, room 1010, at the University of California, Santa Barbara

A special thank you to Dr. Loreto Bravo for encouraging us to re-design the CEP website– and for creating it! Profesora Bravo is Director of the Data Science Institute, School of Engineering, at the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile. All elegance in the design was created by her; any defects were at the insistence of the CEP’s eccentric co-directors.