Nicolas Baumard’s blog

Na’vi Cognition and Culture

James Cameron's Avatar is about to become the most viewed film in history. While Cameron may deserve this success for his special effects and breathtaking landscapes, Pandora, the world he

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The universality of music: Cross-cultural comparison, the recognition of emotions, and the influence

It has long been debated which aspects of music perception are universal and which are specific to a specific musical culture. A recent paper, "Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in

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Simian Oeconomicus II

In a recent post, I commented on the existence of markets of goods and services in monkeys' societies. Exactly as in human societies, supply and demand determine value of commodities exchanged

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Elinor Ostrom: Nobel Prize in Anthropology!

I have never quite understood why there is a Nobel Prize just in economics. Why a prize basically on financial relationships? Why not a prize for the human sciences as whole instead? After all, there

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Experimental demonstration of cultural attitudes to punishment?

PNAS has just released an article on the variability of cultural attitudes to punishment. However, one may wonder if the experiment is really about punishment or cultural attitudes. Here is the

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Simian Oeconomicus

Economics is usually thought of as a specifically human science. However, there are no reasons to restrict its application to humans. After all, animals have goals and preferences exactly like

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In praise of neuroscience (for once)

Here, at ICCI, we are used to being skeptical about the contributions of neurosciences to the understanding of culture (see the posts on reading and religion, or Mixing Memories's post on colour

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In Bad Taste: Evidence for the Oral Origins of Moral Disgust

The last issue of Science reports a fascinating piece of research on the facial display of disgust among participants whom have been treated unfairly in an economic game. Here is the abstract: In

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Do economic games tell us something about real behaviours?

The last issue of Current Anthropology reports a research conducted by Polly Wiessner among the Ju/'hoan Bushmen of the Kalahari. Like a recent article by Gurven (see our previous post), this

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Is resonance the cement of society?

Human social life heavily relies on our ability to understand other people's beliefs, intentions, actions and sensations. One way to explain this ability has been to posit a capacity for empathy.

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What about cognition and society?

When people talk about the relationships between cognitive science and the social sciences, they usually think of religion, art, information transmission, etc. They don't think of another cluster

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Are dogs (and chimps) really inequity-averse?

In a recent article, New-York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins reports on an experiment published in PNAS about a sense of fairness among dogs. "Folks at the University of Vienna conducted

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Is a universal Michelin Guide possible?

Michelin is preparing a Hong-Kong edition of its world renowned guide (Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau 2010). Michelin started as a French gastronomic guide, but went out of France 30 years

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Epidemiology of flu, epidemiology of names

Each week, millions of Google users around the world search for health information online. As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches

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Neuroanthropology or ethnographical neurosciences?

In Cognition and Culture, we often emphasize the value of experimental methods combined with fieldwork when studying culture. In contrast, using the tools of anthropology in psychology is rarely

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Intuitive fatalism: adaptation or by-product?

Most of us do not believe in supernatural causes. However, we may feel that celebrating an exam before having received the official result can influence our chances of success. Some of us might also

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