Cognitive fossils: using cultural artifacts to reconstruct psychological changes throughout history

Nicolas Baumard (Korresp. Autor*in), Lou Safra, Mauricio Martins, Coralie Chevalier

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Psychology is crucial for understanding human history. When aggregated, changes in the psychology of individuals – in the intensity of social trust, parental care, or intellectual curiosity – can lead to important changes in institutions, social norms, and cultures. However, studying the role of psychology in shaping human history has been hindered by the difficulty of documenting the psychological traits of people who are no longer alive. Recent developments in psychology suggest that cultural artifacts reflect in part the psychological traits of the individuals who produced or consumed them. Cultural artifacts can thus serve as 'cognitive fossils' – physical imprints of the psychological traits of long-dead people. We review the range of materials available to cognitive and behavioral scientists, and discuss the methods that can be used to recover and quantify changes in psychological traits throughout history.

Seiten (von - bis)172-186
FachzeitschriftTrends in Cognitive Sciences
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2023

ÖFOS 2012

  • 501021 Sozialpsychologie
  • 605007 Digital Humanities