Evolution and social cognition members




Nicolas Baumard

I am interested in using evolutionary and psychological approaches in the social sciences, in particular in economics.

More specifically, I use:
- Biological market theory to explain why moral judgments and cooperative behaviors are based on considerations of fairness;
- Life-history theory to explain behavioral variability across culture, history, social classes and developmental stages;
- Dual process theory to explain the content of human reflections and religious thinking (in particular on morality and gods);
- all of the above to explain why some public policies naturally work better



Coralie Chevallier

I am a behavioural scientist studying the evolutionary and cognitive determinants of social cognition. I have mainly focused on the way motivational factors affect people’s social cognition. More recently I have worked on the way stress, environmental harshness, and uncertainty impact a range of social and non-social decisions:
- prosociality and social trust
- political attitudes and religion
- health attitudes, fertility and parenting

The central hypothesis behind my work is that environmental and motivational factors alter individuals’ minds in significant ways and should be targeted upstream to improve people’s lives.


Jean-Baptiste André

I was trained as a theoretician in evolutionary biology, and I’m interested in understanding behavior, in particular human behavior, based on an evolutionary perspective. My work focuses on two major questions:

(1) Why is human cooperation universally constrained by the logic of fairness? To answer this question, I develop models in collaboration with Nicolas Baumard and Stéphane Debove. We show that, whereas pairwise reciprocity per se is undertermined (what economists call the folk theorem), the evolution of reciprocal cooperation becomes constrained by fairness principles when individuals can freely engage in a diverse range of social interactions, and choose among them.

(2) Why is reciprocal cooperation so rare among non humans but so frequent in humans? To answer this question, with the help of models, I show that reciprocal cooperation is not a regular form of adaptation that can evolve by natural selection. Rather its evolution, like the evolution of communication, requires the recycling of functions evolved intially for a different purpose. I’m interested in showing how this constraint explains both the rarity of reciprocal cooperation among non-humans, and the form that it takes in humans.
Hugo Mercier

I am an evolutionary and cognitive psychologist working on the function and workings of reasoning. With Dan Sperber, we have developed the argumentative theory of reasoning, which offers a new function for human reasoning: to find and evaluate arguments so as to convince others and only be convinced when it is appropriate. I also study the cognitive mechanisms with which people evaluate communicated information.

Pierre Jacquet

I am a cognitive neuroscientist interested in explaining social cognition, and in particular conformism, using evolutionary lense. My project in the Evolution and Social Cognition aims at using life-history theory to study how risk-taking explains inter-individual variability in social learning.

Lou Safra

I am interested in the cognitive mechanisms underlying social and political behaviour, notably leader choice and cooperation. In particular, I adopt an ecological and evolutionary approach to better understand the inter-individual differences in these domains, across both space and time. To do so, I rely on behavioral data, social surveys, computational modeling and, more recently, cultural artifacts such as paintings and books.


Félix Geoffroy

I am interested in understanding the evolutionary origins of human cooperation. Specifically, my aim is to explain why cooperation emerged in humans (and not other animals) and how evolution favored a fairness-based type of cooperation.

Rita Abdel Sater

I am interested in using nudges and behavioural approaches more generally to promote sustainable behaviour and cooperative behaviour in Paris. I'm interested in applying both economics and psychology to produce more efficient public policies. 

Paul Ecoffet

I am interested in the evolution of reciprocal cooperation its bootstrapping issue. I use evolutionary algorithms and robotic simulations to model the complex mapping between genotype and phenotype. I plan to show that even when reciprocal cooperation is the most adaptive behavior, it rarely emerges as an evolutionary path from pure defection to reciprocal cooperation may not exist. Then, I plan to identify what are the environmental or pre-existing cognitive features that facilitate the emergence of reciprocal cooperation.

Hugo Mell

I am interested in identifying underlying causes of variation in cooperative behaviors in humans. In particular, I will try to assess the importance of ecological parameters, such as harshness and unpredictability of the environment, in shaping this behavioral variation. Drawing on life history theory, I will also examine if inter-individual differences in cooperative behaviors can be integrated into more general life strategies which include life-history traits and other social behaviors.


Sacha Yesilaltay

I'm interested in the success of pseudo-scientific beliefs like conspiracy theories. I currently use Dan Sperber’s epidemiological framework to understand how people evaluate, memorize and share through communication information related to vaccination.

Marc Pichot de la Marandais

I'm interested in the cognitive determinants of extremist vote. I am currently working on a large database collected in collaboration with the Cevipof linking socioeconomic information and a reinforcement learning task. The goal is a test whether pessimism is associated with the Front National vote in France.


Guillaume Dezecache

I am postdoctoral researcher for the FRONTSEM ERC project (directed by Philippe Schlenker, in collaboration with Emmanuel Chemla and Klaus Zuberbühler) and I work on the semantics of primate alarm calls

Ricardo Horta

I am interested in how psychology can help to better understand and to improve institutions. Particularly, I am studying how advances in decision-making science can inform public policy in general and the institutional design of the judicial system.


Christina Ioannou

Perline Demange

Mark Sheskin

PhD Student, 2014-2017

M2 Student, 2016-2017

Post-doc 2013-2015, now post doc at Yale University

Stéphane Debove

PhD Student 2012-2015

Stéphane Lambert

PhD Student 2013-2016

Lucien Castex

Master Student (M2) 2013-2014.

Raphaël Delage

Master Student (M2) 2014-2015.

Céline Dusautois

Master Student (M2) 2014-2015.

Judith Lenglet

Master Student (M2) 2014-2015, now President of Cog'Innov.

Helena Miton

Master Student (M2) 2013-2014, now PhD student at the CEU in Budapest

Tristan Tissot

Master Student (M2) 2013-2014, now PhD Student in Montpellier University

Arnaud Poubland

Master Student (M1) 2014-2015

Martin Dockendorff

Master Student (M1) 2015-2016, now PhD Student in Munich.

Mona Joly

Master Student (M1) 2015-2016

Chloé Svatek

Master Student (M1) 2015-2016