My research focuses on the gene-culture coevolution of human social cognition and behavior, along with applications related to human health and well-being at work.
I use lab experiments, evolutionary modeling, and econometrics techniques to better understand social learning mechanisms and the consequences on the aggregate level.
Using successful people as examples of how to behave and how not to behave.
Small differences in social learning strategies at the individual level can significantly influence cultural evolutionary dynamics at the population level. In this work, we focus on success-biased social learning and study social learning complexity and heterogeneity at the individual level. Using a lab experiment and a companion gene-culture coevolutionary simulation, we show that people adjust to success-dependent social information in complex and heterogeneous ways that include the use of successful people as negative examples.
How culture affects fitness: causal evidence at the Swiss language border.
In collaboration with Rafael Lalive and Charles Efferson, working paper available.
Results from cultural evolutionary theory often suggest that social learning can lead cultural groups to differ markedly in the same environment. In this study, we exploit a cultural border dividing Switzerland in ways that are independent of institutional, environmental, and genetic variation. Using a regression discontinuity design, we estimate discontinuities at the border in terms of preferences related to fertility and mortality, the two basic components of genetic fitness. Analyzing six referenda, the study finds multiple discontinuities in voting patterns across the border, indicating culture’s potential role in shaping health and fertility choices. These findings further suggest that to uphold its cultural values, at least one of the two groups has supported policies that could impose fitness costs on individuals in the group.
Turnover effects on exploration and exploitation: a lab experiment
In today’s business and technology landscape, organizations and their members often encounter complex problems. To tackle these challenges, individuals and teams must engage in a search process that alternates between exploration and exploitation. Teams often shift quickly from exploring options to exploiting solutions, limiting their ability to find complex solutions. I aim to investigate whether changes in team composition can offset these tendencies and facilitate the creation of more diverse solutions through a lab experiment.