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Research areas

In general, research at the CCE focuses on revealing how our evolved human nature generates such a diverse array of cultural practices and behaviours observed around the world. We strive to integrate proximate and ultimate perspectives on the causes of human psychological variation, across levels of analysis from individual biological traits and personal beliefs, through dyadic processes and group dynamics, and on to broader issues of ecology, demography, and sociohistorical context. Most research at the CCE fits into at least one of three main research themes:

  1. Personal Relationships – For example, interpersonal attraction and mate choice, relationship maintenance and satisfaction, infidelity and sexual jealousy, romantic attachment and mental health, intimate partner violence and sexual aggression; also, intergroup relations (between cultures and ethnic groups).
  2. Morality and Belief Systems – For example, political and religious beliefs, rules about fairness and resource distribution, gender roles and sexual behaviours, and superstitions and medical beliefs. 
  3. Conflict and Cooperation – For example, cooperation within and between groups, collective action, leader-follower relations, sexual conflict and intrasexual competition, social bonding and community, and sources of social conflict such as inequality.

 Some more specific examples of topics emphasised by CCE researchers—all relevant to at least one of the above themes—are listed below, followed by the names of CCE members conducting research in each topic:

  • Attitudes toward, and behavioural consequences of, inequality (Clark, Pound, Price)
  • Close personal relationships (Gaines, Marshall, Schmitt)
  • Community, health practices, and wellbeing (de Barra, Launay, Price)
  • Cooperation within groups, including between leaders and followers (Gobel, Price)
  • Cultural variation in religion and prosociality (Launay, Imada, Price, Willard)
  • Cultural variation in self-concepts and personality traits (Imada, Schmitt)
  • Cultural variation in superstition, ritual, and harmful beliefs (de Barra, Willard)
  • Ecology of pathogens, disgust, and disease (de Barra, Schmitt)
  • Emotions in social relationships, such as jealousy (Imada, Marshall, Schuetzwohl)
  • Impact of social media on mental health and relationships (Marshall)
  • Music, singing, dance, and social bonding (Launay)
  • Physical and physiological (e.g., gait, muscularity, hormonal) predictors of social and moral attitudes (Clark, Pound, Price)
  • Physical attractiveness, mate preferences, and mating strategies (Clark, Pound, Price, Schmitt)
  • Relationship of facial morphology to dominance, leadership, politics, and moral attitudes (Gobel, Pound)
  • Relevance of ethnicity, gender roles, sexual orientation, and social class in personal relationships (Gaines, Marshall, Schmitt)
  • Sexual selection, competitiveness, and risk-taking (Clark, Pound)