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Gonzalez Cabrera Ivan | Fellow Postdoctoral
2019-03-01 - 2020-02-29 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Sharing our Normative Worlds: An Evolutionary Theory of Human Norm-psychology

The present project is a continuation of my previous research on normative disagreement carried out last year at the KLI. Most evolutionary accounts of human norm-psychology have focused on the problem of moral compliance, but less attention has been paid to the evolution of the psychological mechanisms of norm transmission and acquisition. The present project aims to fill this gap by focusing on two main questions: Why do we share norms (moral or otherwise) with others in the first place? And how do we manage to transmit these normative standards faithfully? The project will address these questions from the perspective of shared intentionality theories in developmental psychology. According to these theories, normativity derives from children’s early motivation to entertain shared intentional states. The working hypothesis of the project is that the mechanisms involved in the successful sharing of normative mental states are the result of the coevolution (due to selective pressures for collective foraging) of phylogenetically old capacities for instrumental decision-making in great apes and human unique capacities for shared intentionality. The proposed project has important societal implications as a theory of cultural transmission of norms can yield insights and predictions that go conventional population-level analyses of norm transmission and help to design effective social interventions that are not exclusively based on punishment or material incentives.