Yo Nakawake, PhD

Research Associate, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management

Research Affiliate, University of Oxford, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography,
Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion


[ORCID: 0000-0002-4911-0740]

[Google Scholar: LINK]

cultural evolution, folktale, cognitive science of religion, majority group decision

Current project and interest

I am a psychologist currently working for the cultural evolution of material and oral cultures such as projectiles or folktales, as a postdoc of 'Cultural History of Paleo Asia', a collaborative project of archaeology, theoretical biology, cultural and evolutionary anthropology.

Previously, I was working on a project examining the coevolution of religion and morality. I am interested in the cultural evolution of social norms, folktales and prosocial religion and is addressing these using a combination of approaches. Specifically, I seek to combine fieldwork studies, statistical analysis of cultural materials, and developmental research focusing on child-parent interaction.

I am also affiliated with Oxford (Centre for the Study for Social Cohesion)

Current Interest:

  • cultural evolution

    • folktale

    • morality

    • religion

    • projectile

  • social dominance

    • strong leadership v. wisdom of crowds

    • religion and social stratification


    • Ikari, S., Sato, K., Burdett, E., Ishiguro, H., Jong, J., & Nakawake, Y. (2022, January 15). Religiosity differently influences moral attitude for robots in the US and Japan. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/r75xz

    • Nakawake, Y., & Takezawa, M. (preprint). The robust beauty of the majority rule by a small number of selected members. https://osf.io/3axpj/

    • Nakawake, Y., & Stanford, M. (preprint). Following Majority Rule versus Deferring to Elders: Educational Background Shapes Group Decision Preference in Burmese Children. https://psyarxiv.com/jm3dr/


    • Nakawake, Y.*, & Ishii, T.* (in press). The rationality of religion as adaptive heuristics. Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society. [in Japanese]

    • Burdett, E., Ikari, S., & Nakawake. Y. (2022). British Children’s and Adults' Perceptions of Robots. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies. [PDF]

    • Nakawake, Y., & Kobayashi, Y. (2022). Negative observational learning might play a limited role in the cultural evolution of technology. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 970. [PDF]

    • Yamada, J., Nakawake, Y., Shou, Q., Nishina, K., Matsunaga, M., & Takagishi, H. (2021). Salivary oxytocin is negatively associated with religious faith in Japanese non-Abrahamic people. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. [PDF]

    • Meng*, X., Nakawake*, Y., Hashiya, K., Burdett, E., Jong, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2021). Preverbal infants expect agents exhibiting counterintuitive capacities to gain access to contested resources. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-10., [PDF] equal contribution

    • Nakawake*, Y., & Sato*, K. (2019). Systematic quantitative analyses reveal the folk-zoological knowledge embedded in folktales. Palgrave Communications, 5(1), 1-10. [PDF] *equal contribution

    • Meng, X., Nakawake, Y., Nitta, H., Hashiya, K., & Moriguchi, Y. (2019). Space and rank: infants expect agents in higher position to be socially dominant. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1912), 20191674. [PDF]

    • Willard, A. K., Nakawake, Y., & Jong, J. (2018). The evolution of the shaman's cultural toolkit. Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 41, e89. [Link]

    • Krockow, E. M., Takezawa, M., Pulford, B. D., Colman, A. M., Smithers, S., Kita, T., & Nakawake, Y. (2018). Commitment-enhancing tools in centipede games: Evidencing European-Japanese differences in trust and cooperation. Judgment and Decision Making,13(1), 61–72. [PDF]

    • Kavanagh, C., & Nakawake, Y. (2016). Developing the field site concept for the study of cultural evolution: the promise and the perils. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution, 7(2), 273-280 [PDF]

    • Horita, Y., Takezawa, M., Kinjo, T., Nakawake, Y., & Masuda, N. (2016). Transient nature of cooperation by pay-it-forward reciprocity. Scientific reports, 6. [PDF]

    • Watanabe, T., Takezawa, M., Nakawake, Y., Kunimatsu, A., Yamasue, H., Nakamura, M., Miyashita, Y., & Masuda, N. (2014). Two distinct neural mechanisms underlying indirect reciprocity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(11), 3990-3995. [PDF]

Research Method/Skill

      • Reserach Method/ Exeperience

        • interactive network group experiment

        • text mining/ analyzing cultural materials

        • economic/cognitive lab experiment

          • (economic game / decision making / priming / joint action / etc)

        • computational modeling

          • (group decision making / cultural evolution / etc)

        • model fitting analysis on experimental data / GLMM

        • quasi-experiment on the field

        • cross-cultural study

        • biological markers

        • developmental studies

      • Programming:

        • main use: c++ / z-tree / R / Visual Basic / Matlab

        • currently learning: python

        • not much in use: java / html / mathematica