Category Archives: Conferences

Invited speaker at Creativity: Innovation, Transmission and Motivation in Animals, Humans and Societies Meeting, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, Vatican

I was delighted to be an invited speaker at the meeting on “Creativity: innovation, transmission, and motivation in animals, humans, and societies,” which took place at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. The meeting is part of an effort to strengthen the relationship between the Vatican and science.

I presented my research on “Cultural Evolution and Creativity in the Collective Brain”, including new work, my book, A Theory of Everyone, and previous work in these papers:

This event brought together an interdisciplinary array of scholars, priests, and researchers, and I am looking forward to continuing this important dialogue.

Panelist and Invited Speaker on Bridging Disciplines to Advance Governance Research at the Governance Initiative, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, London

I recently participated as a panelist and invited speaker at the Governance Initiative organized by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in London, UK, at their conference on “Bridging Disciplines to Advance Governance Research: Collaborations on Gender, Social Networks, and Climate Change.”

I was a panelist on the “Perspectives on The Challenges and Importance of Multidisciplinary Collaboration in Governance Research,” alongside Nava Ashraf and Noam Yuchtman. This engagement provided a forum to discuss innovative strategies for governance and poverty alleviation, leveraging insights from cultural evolution and economic psychology to inform policy and action.

I tackle more of this in my book, “A Theory of Everyone,” and other relevant papers on the topic can be found here:

  • Schimmelpfennig, R. & Muthukrishna, M.  (2023). Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science in Public Policy. Behavioural Public Policy. [Awarded EUSPR Presidential Award 2023] [Publisher] [Download] [Twitter] [LinkedIn]
  • Muthukrishna, M., Bell, A. V., Henrich, J., Curtin, C., Gedranovich, A., McInerney, J. & Thue, B. (2020). Beyond Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance. Psychological Science, 31(6), 678-701. [Download] [Supplementary] [Code] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]

My thanks to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab for organizing the event, and my co-panelists, Nava Ashraf and Noam Yuchtman for an engaging session.

The Evolution of Comity: Ultimate Constraints on the Scale of Cooperation at the School of Collective Intelligence, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University

I gave an invited talk at the School of Collective Intelligence at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco on the dynamics of collective intelligence within communities and its significance in driving innovation and addressing complex problems.

  • Muthukrishna, M. (2023). [BOOK] A Theory of Everyone: Who we are, how we got here, and where we’re going. MIT Press (US & Canada) / Basic Books (UK and Commonwealth) [Amazon and Local Bookstores]
  • Schnell, E., Schimmelpfennig, R., & Muthukrishna, M. (2023). The Size of the Stag Determines the Level of Cooperation. bioRxiv
  • Muthukrishna, M., Henrich, J. & Slingerland, E. (2021). Psychology as a Historical Science. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 717-49. [Download] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  • Henrich, J. & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 207-40. [Download] [Publisher] [Twitter]

The title of my talk was “The Evolution of Comity: Ultimate Constraints on the Scale of Cooperation.” Key publications relevant to this discussion are:

The research is related to my book, and a grant focused on expanding our comprehension of the foundational processes facilitating cooperation, with the goal of enhancing social harmony and unity. I am grateful to the faculty, students and staff at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University for the invitation and their hospitality.

Are Collectivist Cultures More Prone to Rapid Transformation? at the Collectivism, Social Change and Collective Problems Symposium, Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention 2022

I presented my paper on “Are Collectivist Cultures More Prone to Rapid Transformation?” at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention 2022, San Francisco, CA. It was part of a symposium on “Collectivism, Social Change, and Collective Problems” organized by Suyi Leong and Heejung Kim.

Cultural Evolution and Human Cooperation: Keynote speaker at Cooperative AI Workshop, NeurIPS 2021

I was a keynote speaker at the Cooperative AI workshop at the 2021 Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS). I spoke about “Cultural Evolution and Human Cooperation” and its relevance for understanding problems in cooperative AI. Some of the topics covered included, an introduction to dual inheritance theory and cultural evolution, how and why humans cooperate, and why human cooperation varies in scale, intensity, and domain across societies.

My speech and slides are available here.

The ties that bind us at Beveridge 2.0. Symposium: Reciprocity across the life-cycle [online]

I gave a talk on “The ties that bind us” at the Beveridge 2.0. Symposium: Reciprocity across the life-cycle hosted by STICERD and the LSE School of Public Policy The talk applied the science of cooperation to the problem of the future welfare state, particularly around pensions and retirement. A corresponding paper is under review at LSE Public Policy Review.

Cooperation and the moral circle: When cooperation harms the collective good at SPSP 2021 Justice and Morality Pre-Conference [online]

I gave a talk on “Cooperation and the moral circle: When cooperation harms the collective good” as part of the SPSP 2021 Justice and Morality Pre-Conference. It’s part of some new work on the problem of the expanding moral circle as it links to cooperation, corruption, prosocial, and antisocial behavior. A related working paper is available here:

Behavioral Science for Global Good at Behavioral Insights Group (BIG) conference hosted by Harvard Business School / Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

I was a panelist at the  Behavioral Science for Global Good at Behavioral Insights Group  (BIG) conference hosted by Harvard Business School (add link) / Harvard Kennedy School (add link). The goal of the panel was to offer insight into the ways in which behavioral science may need to change in the future in order to fulfill its stated mission to make a positive difference in the world—particularly on how to expand our focus beyond predominantly WEIRD researchers, WEIRD research topics, and WEIRD populations.

My fellow panelists included:

  • Dolly Chugh, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at NYU
  • Chaning Jang, CSO / VP of Research at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics
  • Shinobu Kitayama, Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology at University of Michigan
  • Steven Roberts, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University
  • Neela Saldanha, Senior Advisor at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics – who did a wonderful job chairing the discussion.

Diverse Intelligences grantee meeting hosted by the Templeton World Charity Foundation at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK

I spent the last few days at the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) Grantee Meeting, online instead of the University of St Andrews, Scotland (due to the pandemic). This conference has become an annual highlight for me, I thoroughly enjoy discussing intelligence with an amazingly diverse and interdisciplinary group of brilliant scholars.

“What affects our level of intelligence?” at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute hosted by the Templeton World Charity Foundation at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK.

This year’s Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute was held online due to the pandemic. I delivered a lecture over Zoom on “What affects our level of intelligence?” followed by a lively discussion with the students. The lecture discussed brain evolution, the Cultural Brain Hypothesis, collective brain, and a cultural evolutionary account of intelligence. You can watch it below:

Communication and Competition at the Learning Innovations LaBarge tree “LILA” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

 I ran a workshop on communication competition at the Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA), part of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The LILA group include people from industry and the military. We discussed various aspects of the science of cooperation, including how and when it fails.I also introduced some new work on the paradox of diversity and on measuring cultural distance.

One of the participants, Sue Borchardt is now making an animated series based on the talk.

Special guest at the Metascience 2019 Symposium at Stanford University, CA

On the back of the Nature Human Behaviour article on psychology’s Problem in Theory, I was invited as a Special Guest to the Metascience 2019 Symposium at Stanford University, CA. The meeting was designed as formative meeting for metascience as a discipline. One of the most interesting and thought-provoking conferences to which I’ve been. I tweeted some highlights and a few of my thoughts in relation to the problem in theory:

See more by searching Twitter for #metascience2019

More details from the conference website:


Carl Bergstrom (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), Dorothy Bishop (University of Oxford, UK), Annette N. Brown (Family Health International 360, Durham, USA), Tim Errington (Center for Open Science, Charlottesville, USA), James Evans (University of Chicago, USA), Daniele Fanelli (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK), Fiona Fidler (University of Melbourne, AU), Jacob Foster (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), Andrew Gelman (Columbia University, New York, USA), Steven Goodman (Stanford University, USA), Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University, USA), Zoltán Kekecs (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, HU), Carole Lee (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), Edward Miguel (University of California, Berkeley, USA), Staša Milojević (Indiana University, Bloomington, USA), Michèle Nuijten (Tilburg University, NL), Cailin O’Connor (University of California, Irvine, USA), Adam Russell (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, USA), Marta Sales-Pardo (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, ES), Melissa Schilling (New York University, USA), Jonathan Schooler (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), Dean Keith Simonton (University of California, Davis, USA), Roberta Sinatra (IT University of Copenhagen, DK), Paula Stephan (Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA), Simine Vazire (University of California, Davis, USA), Bernhard Voekl (University of Bern, CH), Jan Walleczek (Phenoscience Laboratories, Berlin, DE), Shirley Wang (Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA), Jevin West (University of Washington, USA), Yang Yang (Northwestern University, Evanston, USA)


Christie Aschwanden (Emergent Form, USA), Lisa Feldman Barrett (Northeastern University, Boston, USA), Richard Harris (National Public Radio, Washington, USA), Chonnettia Jones (Wellcome Trust, London, UK), Stephanie Lee (BuzzFeed News, New York, USA), Arthur Lupia (National Science Foundation, Alexandria, USA), Ivan Oransky (Retraction Watch, New York, USA), Dawid Potgieter (Templeton World Charity Foundation. Nassau, BS), Norbert Schwarz (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA), Jonathan Yewdell (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, USA)


Brian Nosek (Center for Open Science, USA), Jonathan Schooler (UC Santa Barbara, USA), Jon Krosnick (Stanford Univ., USA), Leif Nelson (UC Berkeley, USA), Jan Walleczek (Phenoscience Laboratories, DE)


Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech, USA), Helen Longino (Stanford Univ., USA), Donald Hoffman (UC Irvine, USA), Rebecca Saxe (MIT, USA), Colin Camerer (Caltech, USA), Steven Goodman (Stanford Univ., USA), Stephen Fiore (Univ. Central Florida, USA), Richard Harris (NPR, USA), John Protzko (UC Santa Barbara, USA)


During this decade, we have witnessed the emergence of a new discipline called metascience, metaresearch, or the science of science. Most exciting was the fact that this is emerging as a truly interdisciplinary enterprise with contributors from every domain of research. This symposium served as a formative meeting for metascience as a discipline. The meeting have brought together leading scholars that are investigating questions related to themes such as:

  • How do scientists generate ideas?
  • How are our statistics, methods, and measurement practices affecting our capacity to identify robust findings?
  • Does the distinction between exploratory and confirmatory research matter?
  • What is replication and its impact and its value?
  • How do scientists interpret and treat evidence?
  • What are the cultures and norms of science?

Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) Grantee Meeting at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute at the University of St Andrews, Scotland

I spent the last few days at the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) Grantee Meeting at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. This was my second time attending the meeting and I enjoyed once again discussing the challenges of understanding intelligence (and its implications) with an amazingly diverse and interdisciplinary group of brilliant scholars.

Global Solutions Summit: The World Policy Forum in Berlin, Germany

I was invited by Dennis Snower to the Global Solutions Summit 2019 in Berlin. The summit proposes policy responses for the upcoming G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan by bringing together researchers, policymakers, business leaders and civil society representatives to discuss major global challenges.

It was great to hear Dennis’ opening address advocating a cultural evolutionary framework, particularly cultural-group selection and multilevel selection, as an approach to tackling major global challenges:

Other highlights included the various discussions on the future of the European Union, including Frans Timmermans vision for the future of the EU (Frans is one of the lead candidates for the upcoming election for the President of the European Commission):

Life History and Learning Workshop at UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

I spent the weekend at a workshop on Life History and Learning at UC Berkeley, organized by Alison Gopnik. I presented the “Cultural Brain Hypothesis and Cumulative Cultural Brain Hypothesis”, which was recently published in PLOS Computational Biology (see here for discussion).

It was a small workshop, which made for some wonderful discussions with:
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (UC Davis)
Willem Frankenhuis (Radboud University)
Michael Gurven (UC Santa Barbara)
Kristen Hawkes (University of Utah)
Celeste Kidd (UC Berkeley)
Julie Morand-Ferron (University of Ottawa)
Thomas Morgan (Arizona State University)
Susan Perry (UCLA)
Pete Richerson (UC Davis)
Mike Tomasello (Duke)
Natalie Uomini (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)



The Evolution of Evil Eye Beliefs and Related Behaviors at CES 2018 in Tempe, AZ

I presented some in progress theoretical and empirical work on “The Evolution of Evil Eye Beliefs and Related Behaviors” at the 2nd Cultural Evolution Society (CES) conference.

Part of this work was based on a recent paper published in Nature Human Behaviour, with some context published in Evonomics and ProMarket (pre-print). But the main part was work in progress on understanding the evolution of evil eye beliefs and hunter-gatherer egalitarianism.