Social categorization. How do humans reason about social categories, particularly culturally marked ethnic ones and coalitional ones? To what extent are these set of folk sociological concepts constrained and constructed through innate predispositions? How is children’s cognition designed to learn about cultural variation in this regard?  What can this help us infer about our evolutionary history?


Essentialism. How can psychological essentialism be deconstructed into functional components. Is there a function of social category essentialism in humans? Is this an exaptation from biological species thinking?


Evolution of conformism. Conformist transmission helps maintain group boundaries, even in the face of intergroup migration. Under what conditions can conformist social learning (preferentially adopting more common cultural variants at rates higher than their frequency in the population) evolve? How does the number of models from which one can learn affect these?


Intergroup relations. Do the above-mentioned psychological processes help account for certain components of intergroup relations? For example, does a cognitive system that expects large cultural variation between groups motivate assorting with co-ethnics to avoid coordination failure? How do intergroup relations in the US compare with those along the Aymara-Quechua linguistic boundary in Peru where the power differences are relatively small, categories are not racially marked and identities are perceived as more culturally than biologically inherited?


Emotional expression of guilt. Why do people feel guilt in situations where it may betray a transgression? What cues motivate people to confess wrongdoing and attempt to repair relations?


Cross-cultural variation in kin’s pro-natal effects. Why do kin have mixed effects on fertility and and other reproductive outcomes? How do cultural institutions and ecological context affect the role that different kin have with respect to alloparenting.

 

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