Research

As a social psychologist with philosophical expertise, I pursue questions relating to cultural evolution and the psychological effects of the ideas that have survived that process. By virtue of their survival, they often have a function—a reason why they are still around when so many other ideas are not.

It could be that such ideas are true, that they accurately describe the world and are therefore useful to us. Much attention is rightly placed on the truth value of ideas. However, regardless of whether they are accurate or inaccurate, ideas can have a function.

Because we are often ignorant of their origins, we sometimes have no insight into the function of these ideas. Varying conceptions of happiness are one example of this, but many others exist as well.

Beyond social psychology and philosophy, this work by necessity incorporates numerous branches of psychology, such as evolutionary, clinical, and developmental psychology, but also makes use of insights from anthropology, history, and sociology.

Separately, I have interests in social and personality psychology and meta-psychology (in other words, inquiries about the field of psychology itself) that I pursue largely with my collaborator Bill Chopik.

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