Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Arizona State University, 2016 - present, Department of Psychology
University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011 - 2016, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010, Center for Evolutionary Psychology
Principal advisor: John Tooby (Department of Anthropology); co-advisor: Leda Cosmides (Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences)
Dissertation Title: Cognitive adaptations for calibrating welfare tradeoff motivations, with special reference to the emotion of shame
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2002, Anthropology
I am an evolutionary psychologist conducting research on the psychology of sociality. I combine methods, theories, and concepts drawn from the cognitive sciences and evolutionary biology to explore and map the evolved design of social emotions and their underlying motivational systems. I have multiple lines of cross-cultural evidence on shame, pride, compassion, and envy, and their roles in altruism, cooperation, social exclusion, and conflict. I am also working to map the system that regulates how much weight one individual places on the welfare of another. I conduct research on how these emotions and motivations regulate political and moral attitudes, and how they shape communication. The methods I use include experimental economic games, decision-making tasks, priming methods, cross-cultural and ethnographic data collection, large-scale representative surveys, and anthropometry.
Sznycer, D., Lopez Seal, M. F., Sell, A., Lim, J., Porat, R., Shalvi, S., Halperin, E., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (In press). Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sell, A., Sznycer, D., Al-Shawaf, L., Lim, J., Krauss, A., Feldman, A., Rascanu, R., Sugiyama, L., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2017). The grammar of anger: Mapping the computational architecture of a recalibrational emotion. Cognition, 168, 110–128. │ Supplemental Information
Sznycer, D., Al-Shawaf, L., Bereby-Meyer, Y., Curry, O. S., De Smet, D., Ermer, E., Kim, S., Kim, S., Li, N. P., Lopez Seal, M. F., McClung, J., O, J., Ohtsubo, Y., Quillien, T., Schaub, M., Sell, A., van Leeuwen, F., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2017). Cross-cultural regularities in the cognitive architecture of pride. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(8), 1874–1879. │ Supplemental Information
Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2017). Adaptationism carves emotions at their functional joints. Invited commentary in Psychological Inquiry, 28(1), 56–62.
Sell, A., Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J., Krauss, A., Nisu, S., Ceapa, C., & Petersen, M. B. (2017). Physically strong men are more militant: A test across four countries. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38(3), 334–340. │ Supplemental Information
Sznycer, D., De Smet, D., Billingsley, J., & Lieberman, D. (2016). Coresidence duration and cues of maternal investment regulate sibling altruism across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. │ Supplemental Information
Sznycer, D., Tooby, J., Cosmides, L., Porat, R., Shalvi, S., & Halperin, E. (2016). Shame closely tracks the threat of devaluation by others, even across cultures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(10), 2625-2630. │ Supplemental Information
Sznycer, D., Schniter, E., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2015). Regulatory adaptations for delivering information: the case of confession. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36(1), 44-51. │ Supplemental Information
M. B*, Sznycer, D.*, Sell, A., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2013). The
ancestral logic of politics: Upper body strength regulates men's assertion of
self-interest over economic redistribution. Psychological Science, 24(7),
* indicates joint first authorship
Schniter, E., Sheremeta, R. M., & Sznycer, D. (2012). Building and rebuilding trust with promises and apologies. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 94, 242-256.
Sznycer, D., Takemura, K., Delton, A. W., Sato, K., Robertson, T., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (2012). Cross-cultural differences and similarities in proneness to shame: An adaptationist and ecological approach. Evolutionary Psychology, 10(2), 352-370. │ Supplemental Information
Petersen, M.B., Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2012). Who Deserves Help? Evolutionary Psychology, Social Emotions, and Public Opinion about Welfare. Political Psychology, 33 (3), 395-418.
Sznycer, D., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2011). Evolutionary psychology. In P. C. Hogan (Ed.) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sell, A., Bryant, G., Cosmides, L. Tooby, J., Sznycer, D., von Rueden, C., Krauss, A., & Gurven, M. (2010) Adaptations in humans for assessing physical strength from the voice, Proceedings of the Royal Society London, (Biological Sciences), 277, 3509-3518.
Sell, A., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J., Sznycer, D., von Rueden, C., & Gurven, M. (2009). Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face. Proceedings of the Royal Society London (Biological Sciences), 276, 575-584.
Tooby, J., Cosmides, L., Sell, A., Lieberman, D. & Sznycer, D. (2008). Internal regulatory variables and the design of human motivation: A computational and evolutionary approach. In Andrew J. Elliot (Ed.) Handbook of approach and avoidance motivation. pp. 251-271. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.