Biologically modern humans are more than 200,000 years old. Many scientists have devoted their lives to understanding how architecture, social structure, and language have changed over this history. Yet we know almost nothing about the history of human minds. Behavioral science research has instead focused nearly exclusively on contemporary people, and psychological theories often draw from taxonomies that assume a culturally and historically stable structure to emotion, personality, morality, and other psychological processes. In this talk, Joshua Conrad Jackson surveys new insights into how psychological processes may have changed over human history in ways that challenge these taxonomical models. Psychological change is often patterned and predictable based on cultural change, and general evolutionary principles may explain psychological changes in multiple domains. We now have the methodological and theoretical tools to build a more historically enriched science of human cognition and behavior, with a basic capacity to make foundational discoveries and an applied capacity to predict human futures.
Joshua Conrad Jackson is a DRRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and an incoming professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He studies cultural and historical variation in psychological processes, focusing especially on morality, emotion, religious belief, and social norm adherence. He also studies the implications of psychological and cultural change for leadership, conflict, cooperation, and human-technology interactions. Dr. Jackson has published over 50 papers and book chapters on these topics, and has won awards from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his B.A. from McGill University.