New York City / Thursday Apr 03,2014
11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Joe Henrich on Culture and Social Norms

Room 7-191
Kaufman Management Center
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012

Thank you to Joe Henrich for leading a discussion about culture and social norms.

Norms, culture, preferences, beliefs and institutions are all a function of our biology. We have evolved a capacity for culture because culture accumulates rapidly, paving the way for larger brains, and creating increasingly large pools of information.

Cultural learning helps humans acquire tastes and preferences that they might not otherwise have. For example, the chili pepper’s “hot” flavor is technically causing pain. Primates and infants won’t eat them due to this, but many adult humans have acquired a taste for the peppers because they are part of the cuisine in hot locations.

You can find the full presentation here.

Tile image: Christoph.


Joseph Henrich
Joseph Henrich
Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology / Harvard University

Joseph Henrich is Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. His theoretical work focuses on how natural selection has shaped human learning and how this in turn influences cultural evolution and culture-gene coevolution. This work has explored the evolution of conformist learning and human status, as well as the emergence of large-scale cooperation, norms, social stratification, world religions and monogamous marriage. Methodologically, his research synthesizes experimental and analytical tools drawn from behavioral economics and psychology with in-depth quantitative ethnography, and he has performed long-term anthropological fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon, rural Chile, and in the South Pacific.

In 2004 he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award, the highest award bestowed by the United States upon scientists early in their careers. In 2009, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society awarded him their Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions. He has published over sixty journal articles and has co-authored two books. He received his PhD in Anthropology from UCLA in 1999.