Category Archives: General


February 8, 2024: Keynote speaker at SPSP Computational Psychology Preconference in San Diego, CA.

February 9, 2024: Invited panelist at Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference on Building Bridges between Global North and Global South, Beyond WEIRD Psychology in San Diego, CA.

March 9-11, 2024: Meeting on Comity, London School of Economics

March 21, 2024: Keynote speaker at Rebuilding Macroeconomics conference on Polycrises and Policy Frameworks

April 8, 2024: Invited speaker at Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago.

April 11-12, 2024: Invited speaker at workshop on “An Aspirational Approach to Planetary Futures”by the UNDP Human Development Report Office, Oxford

May 5-7, 2024: Invited speaker at Global Solutions Summit, The World Policy Forum to the G20 and G7.

May 23-24, 2024: Invited guest at Human Flourishing Forum at Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican

June 3-4, 2024: Cohesive Capitalism Summit, London School of Economics

June 10-14, 2024: Invited speaker at Zanzalu, Zanzibar

July 25-28, 2024: Keynote at Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina

August 5, 2024: Invited talk at Center for Humans and Machines, Max Planck Institute of Human Development, Berlin, Germany

October 3-8, 2024: Keynote speaker at Khazanah Megatrends Forum, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund), Malaysia

October 18, 2024: Invited talk at Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Invited Speaker at the Kinship, Historical Psychology and European Medieval Development Workshop, Harvard University

I was invited to a workshop at Harvard on “Kinship, Historical Psychology and European Medieval Development“. I presented on the “Database of Religious History,” and its use in historical psychology.

More about the workshop and projects can be found on the Historical Psychology Project website. This paper launched the field:

Muthukrishna, M., Henrich, J. & Slingerland, E. (2021). Psychology as a Historical Science. Annual Review ofPsychology, 72, 717-49. [Download] [Publisher] [Summary Post] [Twitter]

My thanks to Jonathan Schulz and Joe Henrich for organizing the workshop.

Book Launch: A Theory of Everyone: Who We Are, How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

I launched my book, “A Theory of Everyone: Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going,” at the LSE. The launch was a fireside chat with author, journalist, and Olympian Matthew Syed, chaired by our Head of Department, Liam Delaney. I was thrilled that the room was overflowing with thousands watching online. You can watch the launch below:

Invited speaker at Emotion in History: Boundary Crossing Adventures Workshop, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.

I gave a talk at the “Emotions in History: Boundary-Crossing Adventures” workshop, hosted by the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). This symposium brought together experts from the fields of psychology and history to explore the interplay between emotional theories across these disciplines.

The talk also included a wonderful roundtable discussion.

For those interested, you can watch the recordings of this event, accessible here. My deepest thanks to UCSB and the organizers, Hongbo Yu and Ya Zuo.

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.

Mapping Psychological Terrae Incognita: Explorations Beyond WEIRD Psychology at APS International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS) 2023

I was a symposium speaker at “East, West, and the Rest: Exploring Psychological Variation across the Globe”, Association for Psychological Science‘s (APS) International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS) 2023, held at Brussels, Belgium. The symposium was chaired by Shinobu Kitayama and also included Catherine Thomas and Ayse Uskul.

I spoke about “Mapping Psychological Terrae Incognita: Explorations Beyond WEIRD Psychology”, which primarily focused on these papers:

  1. 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]
  2. White, C. J. M., Muthukrishna, M. (equal senior) & Norenzayan, A. (2021). Worldwide evidence of cultural similarity among co-religionists within and across countries using the World Values Survey. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (37) e2109650118. [Download] [Supplementary] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  3. Muthukrishna, M., Henrich, J. & Slingerland, E. (2021). Psychology as a Historical Science. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 717-49. [Download] [Publisher] [Summary Post] [Twitter]

Innovation and the Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain at the Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California Merced

I was invited to speak at University of California Merced‘s Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences as part of the Mind, Technology, and Society Invited Speaker series.

I presented a recent paper on the Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain. The most relevant papers are:

  1. Muthukrishna, M., Doebeli, M., Chudek, M., & Henrich, J. (2018). The Cultural Brain Hypothesis: How culture drives brain expansion, sociality, and life history. PLOS Computational Biology, 14(11): e1006504. [Download] [Supplementary] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  2. Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Telegraph] [Scientific American] [Video] [Evonomics] [LSE Business Review] [Summary Post] [Download] [Data] [Publisher]
  3. Schimmelpfennig, R., Razek, L., Schnell, E., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. [Download] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]

The Future of Government Disruptive Debate at the World Bank [online]

The fifth Future of Government Disruptive Debate hosted by the World Bank tackles the issue of citizens’ trust in government. Together with a diverse group of high-profile practitioners, renowned experts, and thought leaders, I discuss how the natural state of affairs is corruption and the challenges government face in getting citizens to trust higher levels of cooperation.

My opening remarks can be found from 7:12 to 14:07 in the recording above. A rough summary of my talk can be found on my substack:

More about the event here:


The fifth Future of Government Disruptive Debate will tackle the issue of citizens’ trust in government. The Disruptive Debate series aims is to bring together a diverse group of high-profile practitioners, renowned experts and thought leaders to generate new knowledge and perspectives.

The issue of trust has been a frequent theme arising during the Disruptive Debate series. The panel addressed questions such as: Why is trust important for poverty reduction and shared prosperity? What is the relationship between inequality and trust? What can governments do to increase, or re-build, trust? How can citizens influence and hold governments to account? What has been the role of information, data and social media, particularly during COVID-19?

The other speakers included:

My thanks to host Raj Kumar, founding president & editor in chief of Devex and to the World Bank team.

~$4.8 million John Templeton Foundation (JTF) grant for The Database of Religious History (DRH): Exploring the Cultural Evolution of Religion Employing a Large-Scale, Quantitative-Qualitative Historical Database

Ted Slingerland, M. Willis Monroe, and I were awarded a John Templeton Foundation grant for The Database of Religious History: “Exploring the Cultural Evolution of Religion Employing a Large-Scale, Quantitative-Qualitative Historical Database” ($4,792,151). The grant will take us through to 2023.

We will be hiring several new postdocs to expand the time depth, geographic range, and domains of data collection efforts. If you notice your area of expertise missing from our dataset, please reach out. Otherwise, stay tuned for job ads.

Check out the DRH here:

UK Home Office Flag It Up Campaign

I recently helped the UK Home Office with their anti-corruption, #FlagItUp campaign to  encourage accounting and legal professionals to report more suspicious through a suspicious activity report.

Videos below. Read more here:

For Social Media

Longer videos

MoneySupermarket: Why is it so hard to a buy a house?

MoneySupermarket approached me for their Hotel of Mum and Dad campaign about the question of why it’s so difficult for young people to buy a house today. There are many proximate-level economic and social factors to answer this question, but an ultimate-level explanation lies in an extension of our juvenile period – a process that’s been occurring since we became human. The research on this is summarized under the Cultural Brain Hypothesis and Collective Brain. A discussion on Sky News and a copy of the article below:

Sky News interview where I discuss the trend of adults moving back home with their parents and how this links to the Cultural Brain Hypothesis, collective brain, and ever extending juvenile periods.

As parents, we might summarise our role as the three Ps: To Protect, to Provide, and to Prepare. But when our children face an ever-changing, more complex and more challenging world than we faced, how do we prepare our children so that they can provide for and protect themselves? And what happens when life happens, and they need to return home?

There is a trend of adult children moving back in with their parents to save money, at the expense of their privacy and independence.

At an individual level, these decisions are often made with changing life circumstances – health, divorce, losing a job, increases in rent, conflict with flatmates and so on. But there are often broader societal trends underlying these decisions.

The first is a long term trend that has affected humans since the beginning of our species – what scientists call our ‘extended juvenile period’.

Every profession now has to deal with new technologies and more complex systems. This has resulted in us spending more time in education, particularly on-the-job education (e.g. internships, junior roles and lower paid apprenticeships), meaning it now takes more time before we’re earning enough to support a family, buy a house and become self-sufficient.

It used to be that a high school diploma was enough to make a good living. Then it took a university degree or a short apprenticeship. Now it requires post-graduate degrees, internships and volunteer work – which can be unpaid – as well as on-the-job training.

This has meant that the age of first birth, the age of owning a home and the age of financial independence have been steadily rising. As a result, when the last two generations did finally leave home, they often found themselves needing to return, especially if they were unable to share costs with a partner or group of friends.

The second trend is more recent. Economic growth has slowed, yet wealth and income inequality has risen. In combination, this means there’s less to go around per person and of what is there, a greater share has gone to the top end of society.

This means it’s becoming more difficult for people to purchase a home and become self-sufficient than it was for their parents, or even those born a couple of decades earlier.

These are real problems with not-so-simple solutions.

However, it can be hard to see an adult child return home in less than ideal circumstances, especially after two decades of interrupted sleep, changing nappies, helping with homework, giving them lifts from event to event, dealing with the ups and downs of friendships and first romantic relationships, and celebrating the joys, achievements, graduations and first jobs.

For children too, this is often not a preferred situation. They are trading their independence and privacy for financial savings and perhaps some home cooking and laundry.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions on how to handle the new situation, but it may be worth noting a few things in moving toward a more open discussion:

  1. Emotions such as pride and sense of self-worth are affected on both sides – A child in their ability to handle the world as their parents did, and a parent in whether they properly prepared their children for the world. These may lead to important discussions, but it’s important to remember that the world is more competitive for young adults than ever before.


  1. Different societies and different cultures have different expectations for independence – In many so-called WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialised Rich Democratic) societies, young adults are expected to live alone or apart from their parents. However, in many other societies, unmarried children live with their respective parents until marriage and then married couples live with or near their husband (patrilocal) or wife’s (matrilocal) parents. It may be that our society is moving toward these other norms.


  1. There are pros and cons for both parents and children that vary from family to family, and circumstances outside of the family also affect emotions and mental health – In discussing how long the arrangement will last and how to keep both parties happy, it’s worth remembering the costs and benefits to both parties. On both sides, this can come in the form of increased support at home, the joy of being closer to loved ones and perhaps access to grandchildren, versus the loss of privacy, increased workload, reduced living space and financial costs. An honest conversation can help prevent problems from surfacing in less ideal ways.

Thankfully, many parents have been willing to help their children reduce their expenses by moving back home – even though research has shown the tensions over how much children should be contributing in rent and expenses, and the mismatch in expectations between parents and children.

Hopefully, even if the returns to parents aren’t immediately monetary, they find that their children do eventually become financially self-sufficient and perhaps return the favour as they grow older.

PBS Documentary: First Civilizations “Cities”

PBS has a new 4-part documentary series on First Civilizations; a sequel to their successful series First Peoples. The new series charts the rise of civilization clustered around 4 topics: War, Religion, Cities, and Trade. I’m the key contributor for episode 3 on Cities, which premieres tonight. I travel through Tokyo, Japan discussing innovation, inequality, sociality, and collective brains. A short clip from the episode below:

You can read more about the research behind this episodes in these review papers (written to be accessible to the general reader):

Introduction to Cultural Evolution

Chudek, M., Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2015) Cultural Evolution. In Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, 2nd Edition. Edited by D. M. Buss. [Download]

Introduction to Collective Brains

Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Telegraph] [Scientific American] [Video] [Evonomics] [LSE Business Review] [Summary Post] [Download]

If you want to learn more, I recommend 3 recent books on the topic:

Corruption, Competition & Scales of Cooperation at Nuffield College, Oxford University

This week I was invited to speak at the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS), Nuffield College and Oxford University. I presented a talk on “Corruption, Competition & Scales of
Cooperation: Corruption is Rooted in our Relationships” based on my recent paper “Corrupting cooperation and how anti-corruption strategies may backfire” (more details).

I also discussed the general approach to understanding corruption using cultural evolution and the science of cooperation – corruption is one scale of cooperation undermining another. For example, nepotism is cooperation at the scale of kin, well explained by inclusive fitness, undermining cooperation at the scale of the formal institution. More on this framework can be found at ProMarket or Evonomics. Finally, I presented some work in progress based on this approach, including some work by my students.

Many thanks to Raymond Duch, Sönke Ehret, and Sonja Vogt for hosting.

~$2.4 million Templeton Foundation Grant for The Database of Religious History: A Digital Humanities Approach to Religious Cultural History

Ted Slingerland and I were awarded a Templeton Foundation grant for “The Database of Religious History: A Digital Humanities Approach to Religious
Cultural History” ($2,342,841). The grant will take us through to 2020, by which time we hope to have set up the project as a foundation.

If you’re a historian, please let us know if you would like to contribute. For everyone else, I encourage you to browse through our data:


Interview with Focus Magazine

I was recently interviewed by Focus Magazine, a popular magazine in the Russian-speaking world. It was a wide-ranging interview, where we discussed my research on cultural evolution and the implications for some of the events taking place in the world today, including the Migration Crisis, climate change, and the rise of populist politicians.

The first part was a brief introduction to the science of cultural evolution:

The second part dealt with contemporary societal-level implications:



Templeton Foundation Grant for The Database of Religious History: Data Science Approaches to Religious Cultural History ($215K; 18 months)

I was recently awarded an 18 month grant (with Co-PI Ted Slingerland) for “The Database of Religious History: Data Science Approaches to Religious Cultural History” ($215, 050). The grant will enable us to continue a critical period in the project’s development. We are hoping to secure additional funds to ensure a self-sustaining future for the project.

Part of this period was improving the data entry and browsing interface. If you’re a historian, please let us know if you would like to contribute. For everyone else, I encourage you to browse through our data:

Database of Religious History at IAHR 2015 in Erfurt, Germany

This week the Database of Religious History (DRH) Team presented the DRH in a panel at the XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in Erfurt, Germany. The panel, along with an exhibition booth continues our publicity and recruitment efforts. Our presentation was similar to our most recent efforts at Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium Meeting in Montreal, Canada:

Edward Slingerland (Project Director) presented an overview of the strategy and future directions of the project.
Brenton Sullivan (Managing Editor) discussed how the project relates to other humanities databases and religious studies in general.
Frederick Tappenden (Regional Editor) discussed how our terminology, in particular, “religious group”, has evolved through feedback from historians and religious scholars.
Carson Logan (Technical Manager) updated the audience on changes in usability.

As Technical Director of the project, I discussed the technical design and updated the audience on the development of the project, including some exciting new features  (e.g. the ability to challenge answers).

Read more about our efforts to publicize the database here.