John Tooby

John Tooby
Distinguished Professor

Contact Phone

(805) 893-8720

Office Location

HSSB 1010


Integrative Anthropological Sciences (evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology; social psychology, economics, hominid-behavioral evolution, behavioral ecology, evolutionary genetics)


PhD, Harvard University


Center for Evolutionary Psychology

CEP Graduate Students

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

For the last two decades, Professor 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. This involves using knowledge of specific adaptive problems our hunter-gatherer ancestors encountered to experimentally map the design of the cognitive and emotional mechanisms that evolved among our hominid ancestors to solve them. Tooby is co-director of UCSB's Center for Evolutionary Psychology, where Tooby and his collaborators use cross-cultural, experimental, and neuroscience techniques to investigate specific cognitive specializations for cooperation, coalitions, group psychology, and human reasoning. Under Tooby's direction, the Center maintains 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. Tooby is also working on several projects in evolutionary biology, including a book on the evolution of sexual reproduction and genetic systems that interprets their design features as a series of adaptations to parasitic infections.



Sample Publications

  • (1995). Section editors, “Evolutionary Approaches”. The cognitive neurosciences, (M. S. Gazzaniga, Ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • (2000). Section editors, “Evolution (Section X)”. The new cognitive neurosciences, Second edition, (M. S. Gazzaniga, Ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Chapters 80-87
  • (in press). Universal Minds: Explaining the new science of evolutionary psychology. (Darwinism Today Series). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • (2000). Evolutionary psychology: Foundational papers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (2005). Social exchange: The evolutionary design of a neurocognitive system. In Michael S. Gazzaniga, (Ed.), The New Cognitive Neurosciences, III (pp. 1295-1308). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
  • (2005). Resolving the debate on innate ideas: Learnability constraints and the evolved interpenetration of motivational and conceptual functions. In Carruthers, P., Laurence, S. & Stich, S. (Eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Content. NY: Oxford University Press
  • (2005). Reply to Berlinski’s “On the Origin of the Modern Mind”. Commentary, 119(2 Feb), 14-15. MS here.
  • (2005). Neurocognitive adaptations designed for social exchange. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 584-627). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • (2005). Conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 5-67). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • (2005). Detecting cheaters. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(11), 505-506.
  • (2006). Evolutionary psychology, moral heuristics, and the law. In G. Gigerenzer & Christoph Engel (Eds.), Heuristics and the Law (Dahlem Workshop Report 94). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • (2006). Cognitive adaptations for n-person exchange: The evolutionary roots of organizational behavior. Managerial and Decision Economics, 27, 103-129.