- Professor of Anthropology and Co–Director of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology
University of California, Santa Barbara
John Tooby is best known for his work in pioneering the new field of evolutionary psychology, along with Templeton Research co–Fellow Leda Cosmides. For the last two decades, Tooby and his collaborators have been integrating cognitive science, cultural anthropology, evolutionary biology, paleoanthropology, cognitive neuroscience, and hunter–gatherer studies to create the new field of evolutionary psychology. The goal of evolutionary psychology is the progressive mapping of the universal evolved cognitive and neural architecture that constitutes human nature, and provides the basis of the learning mechanisms responsible for culture.
Tooby uses cross–cultural, experimental, and neuroscience techniques to investigate specific cognitive specializations for cooperation, group psychology, and human reasoning. Through the Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Tooby directs a field station in Ecuadorian Amazonia in order to conduct cross–cultural studies of psychological adaptations and human behavioral ecology. He is particularly interested in documenting how the design of these adaptations shapes cultural and social phenomena, and potentially forms the foundation for a new, more precise generation of social and cultural theories.
The lead author and co–author on countless papers, articles, and research studies, Tooby co–edited the pioneering work, The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture in 1992. He and Cosmides have two books forthcoming—Universal Minds: Explaining the New Science of Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology: Foundation Papers. Among several other projects, Tooby is also working on a book on the evolution of sexual reproduction and genetic systems. The emerging discourse of transhumanism affords Tooby and Cosmides the opportunity to reflect on their research findings about human nature in a context of rapidly changing biotechnology. What is it that makes us human? And what is it, if anything, that makes us transhuman?
Tooby has also contributed to such popular venues as the New York Times and Slate Magazine. He has been the recipient of a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship and has served as President of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. Tooby and Cosmides received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and were named Templeton Research co–Fellows by Arizona State University in 2006.
Co–editor of: The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1992).
"On the Universality of Human Nature and the Uniqueness of the Individual: The Role of Genetics and Adaptation." Journal of Personality, 58(1):17–67, 1990 (with Leda Cosmides).