Nicolas Baumard

I am a research scientist at the CNRS and an associate professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, working in the Evolution and Social Cognition team, at the Institut Jean-Nicod, in the Department of Cognitive Sciences.

I am interested in using evolutionary and psychological approaches in the social sciences, in particular in economics and history.

More specifically, I use:

- Reciprocity theory (in particular partner choice) to explain why moral judgments and cooperative behaviors are based on considerations of fairness;

- Life-history theory to explain behavioral variability across culture, history, social classes and developmental stages;

I also supervise the 'Social Sciences' track in the Master of Cognitive Sciences and in the PhD Program of Cognitive Sciences where I teach 'Cognition and Cultural' and 'Evolutiona and Social Behavior'.

My publications are indexed on Google Scholar, some thoughts are on Twitter. I also write a monthly column on psychology and public policies in Cerveau&Psycho (in French). I used to blog at the International of Cognition and Culture Institute.

65. Safra, L., Wyart, V., Baumard, N., Chevallier C., (2019) Motivation for social bonding promotes high- stakes cooperative strategies, Working Paper

64. Safra, L, Baumard, N., Chevallier, C. (2019) Why would anyone elect a narcissistic untrustworthy leader? , Working Paper

63. Baumard, N. (2019) Psychological Origins of the Industrial Revolution, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Target article, 1-47.

62. Geoffroy, F., Baumard, N., André, JB., (2019) Why cooperation is not running away, PCI Evol. Biol. (review here)


61. Jacquet P.O., Safra L., Wyart V., Baumard N., Chevallier C. (2018) The ecological roots of human susceptibility to social influence: a pre-registered study investigating the impact of early life adversity. Royal Society Open Science 5, 180454

60. Mell, H., Safra, L. Algan, Y, Baumard, N and Chevallier, C. (2018) Childhood Environmental Harshness Predicts Coordinated Health and Reproductive Strategies: A Cross-sectional Study Of A Nationally Representative (France) Sample`. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39(1), 1-8.

59. Sheskin, M., Chevallier, C., Kanovsky, M. Hulin, M., Ivanescu, A., Lenfesty, H., Regnier, D., Berniunas, R., Castelain, T., Sebesteny A., & Baumard, N. (2018). The needs of the many: Judging sacrifices for the group across cultures. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 18(1-2), 205-223

58. Baumard, N., Chevallier, C., & André, J. B. (2018). Fairness, more than any other cognitive mechanism, is what explains the content of folk-economic beliefs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41.

57. Baumard, N. (2018). Increased affluence, life history theory, and the decline of shamanism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41.

56. Safra, L., Baumard, N., Chevallier, C. (2018) No strong evidence that authoritarian attitudes are driven by a lack of control (commentary to When the appeal of a dominant leader is greater than a prestige leader) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (6), E1076-E1077

55. Viciana, H., Cova, F., Baumard, N., & Morin, O. (2018). De la coopération à la culture. In La Cognition. Andler, Collins and Talon-baudry (Eds.) Gallimard, Paris.

54. Umbres, R. & Baumard, N., (2018) ‘Cooperation’ in Hilary Callan (Ed.) Wiley-Blackwell's International Encyclopedia of Anthropology


53. Safra, L., Algan, Y., Grèzes, J., Tecu, T., Baumard, N. & Chevallier, C., (2017) Childhood harshness induces long-lasting preference for authoritarian leaders Evolution and Human Behavior, 38(5), 645-651.7. Debove, S., Baumard, N. and André, J.-B. (2017) On the evolutionary origins of equity, PloS one, 12(9), e0184459.

52. Mell, H., André, J.B., Baumard, N. (2017) Both collection risk and waiting costs give rise to the behavioural constellation of deprivation (on Pepper and Nettle's The Behavioral Constellation of Poverty", Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41

51. Mell, H., Safra, L., Baumard, N. and Jacquet, P.O. (2017) Climate is not a good candidate to account for variations in aggressionand violence across space and time (on 'Aggression and violence around the world: A model of CLimate, Aggression, and Self-control in Humans (CLASH)'), Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40.

50. Baumard, N. Phenotypic Plasticity, 2017 : What Scientific Term Or Concept Ought To Be More Widely Known?, Edge.

49. Boyer, P. & Baumard, N., (2017) Cognitive attractors in the evolution and diffusion of religious representations in Luther Martin and Don Wiebe (Eds.) Religion Explained: The Cognitive Science of Religion Twenty-Five Years On

48. Boyer, P. & Baumard, N., (2017) The diversity of religious systems: An evolutionary and cognitive framework, in Liddle and Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion


47. Baumard, N. (2016) The Origins of Fairness : How Evolution Explains our Human Nature, Oxford University Press, Oxford (translation of Comment nous sommes devenus moraux : Une histoire naturelle du bien et du mal, Odile Jacob, Paris, 2010)

46. Safra, L., Tecu, T., Lambert, S., Sheskin, M., Baumard, N., Chevallier, C. (2016). Neighborhood Deprivation Negatively Impacts Children’s Prosocial Behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1760

45. Sheskin, M. & Baumard, B. (2016) Switching Away from Utilitarianism: The Limited Role of Utility Calculations in Moral Judgment, PloS one, 11(8), e0160084.

44. Debove, S., Baumard, N., & Andre, J. B. (2016). Models of the evolution of fairness in the ultimatum game: a review and classification. Evolution and Human Behavior.

43. Baumard, N. (2016) Why are religions so judgemental? Ask evolution, New Scientist, 230(3071), 34-35.

42. Jacquet, P., Baumard, N. and Chevallier, C., (2016) Does Culture Get Embrained?, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113(21), E2873-E2873.

41. Sheskin, M., Lambert, S. & Baumard, N., (2016) Biological Markets Explain Human Ultrasociality, Commentary to 'The economic origins of ultrasociality', Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

40. Boyer, P. & Baumard, N., (2016) Projecting WEIRD features on ancient religions (Commentary to 'The cultural evolution of prosocial religions’ by Norenzayan et al.), Behavioral and Brain Sciences


39. Baumard, N., & Chevallier, C. (2015). The nature and dynamics of world religions: a life-history approach. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 282, No. 1818, p. 20151593). The Royal Society.

38. Baumard, N., Hyafil, A. & Boyer, p. (2015) What Changed During the Axial Age: Cognitive Styles or Reward Systems?, Communicative and Integrative Biology. 8(5).

37. Debove, S., André, J.B. & Baumard, N., (2015) Partner choice creates fairness in humans, Proc. R. Soc. B, 282(1808), 20150392.

36. Baumard, N., Hyafil, A. Morris, I., and Boyer, P., (2015) Increased affluence explains the emergence of ascetic wisdoms and moralizing religions. Current Biology, 25(1), 10-15. (See press coverage in Science)

35. Chevallier, C., Xu, J., Adachi, K., van der Henst, J.B. & Baumard, N., (2015) Preschoolers’ understanding of merit in two Asian societies, Plos One. 10(5), e0114717.

34. Debove, S., Baumard, N. & André, J.B., (2015) Evolution of equal division among unequal partners, Evolution, 69: 561–569.

33. Baumard, N., (2015) Evolutionary Psychology and Public Policy, in D. Buss (Ed.) The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, John Wiley & Sons


32. Sheskin, M., Chevallier, C., Lambert, S., and Baumard, N. (2014) Life-history theory explains childhood moral development, Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 18(12), 613-615.

31. Baumard, N. & Sheskin, M. (2014) Partner Choice and the Evolution of a Contractualist Morality, in Decety, J. & Wheatley, T., The Moral Brain, M.I.T. Press.

30. Baumard, N. & Boyer, P. (2014) Empirical problems with the notions of "big gods" and of prosociality in large societies (Commentary on 'Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict' by Ara Norenzayan), Religion, Brain and Behavior.

29. Baumard, N. (2014) For public policies, our evolved psychology is the problem AND the solution (Commentary to 'Evolving the Future: Toward a Science of Intentional Change' by Wilson, Hayes, Biglan and Embry), Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37 (4) pp. 418-418.

28. Baumard, N. (2014) Morality Is in Our Brain, in Our Genes, and Even in the Structure of the Universe, Center for Humans and Nature


27. Baumard, N. & Boyer, P., (2013) Explaining Moral Religions, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17 (6) pp. 172 - 180.

26. Baumard, N. & Boyer, P., (2013) Religious Beliefs as Reflective Elaborations: A Modified Dual-Process Model, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22.4 (2013): 295-300.

25. Baumard, N., André, J.B. et Sperber, D. (2013) A Mutualistic Theory of Morality: The Evolution of Fairness by Partner Choice, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Target article, 36 (1).

24. Liénard, P., Chevallier, C., Mascaro, O., Kiura, P., and Baumard, N. (2013) Moral development in a pre-state society, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13 (1).

23. Baumard, N. (2013) Cultural norms: Transmitted behaviors or adapted response? Commentary on Gerkey, Current Anthropology.

22. Baumard, N. & Sperber, D., (2013) Morale et reputation : Une perspective évolutionnaire, Communications, 93.


21. Baumard, N., Mascaro, O. et Chevallier, C. (2012) Preschoolers are able to take merit into account when distributing goods, Developmental Psychology, 48(2), 492-498.

20. Baumard, N. & Chevallier, C. (2012) What goes around comes around: The evolutionary roots of the belief in immanent justice, Journal of Cognition and Culture.

19. Sperber, D. & Baumard, N. (2012) Morality and reputation in an evolutionary perspective, Mind and Language, 27 (5), 495–518.

18. Baumard, N. (2012) The moral problem of group selectio, Commentary on Pinker's The false allure of group selection, Edge.

17. Baumard, N. (2012) The evolution of cooperation: from networks to institutions, Commentary on Dunbar's “Networking Past and Present”, Cliodynamics: The Journal of Mathematical and Theoretical History, 3 (2) 8-11.

16. Baumard, N. (2012) The restorative logic of punishment: Another argument in favor of weak selection, Comment on Guala's "Reciprocity: weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate", Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35 (2).

15. Baumard, N. & Sperber, D. (2012) Evolutionary and cognitive anthropology, In Fassin, D. (Ed.), Companion to Moral Anthropology, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 611-627.


14. André, J.B. & Baumard, N. (2011) Social opportunities and the evolution of fairness, Journal of Theoretical Biology. 289:128–135.

13. Bourrat, P., Baumard, N., and McKay, R. (2011) Surveillance Cues Enhance Moral Condemnation, Evolutionary psychology. 9(2).

12. Baumard, N. (2011) Punishment is not a group adaptation, Humans punish to restore fairness rather than to support group cooperation, Mind and Society, 10, 1.

11. André, J.B. & Baumard, N. (2011) The evolution of fairness in a biological market, Evolution, 65, 1.

10. Baumard, N. & Liénard, P. (2011) Second or third party punishment? When self-interest hides behind apparent functional interventions (Letter to Mathew & Boyd’s “Punishment sustains large scale cooperation in prestate warfare”), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108 (39).


9. Baumard, N. (2010) Has punishment played a role in the evolution of cooperation? A critical review, Mind and Society, 171-192, 9, 2.

8. Baumard, N., Boyer, P. and Sperber, D. (2010) Evolution of Fairness: Cultural Variability, (Letter to Henrich et al.'s "Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment”) Science 23 July 2010 329: 388-389.

7. Baumard, N. & Sperber, D. (2010) Weird people, yes but also weird experiments? Commentary to Henrich et al.'s « WEIRD people » (2010), Behavioral and Brain Sciences

6. Baumard N., André, J.B. et Morin, O. (2010) Les théories evolutionnaires en sciences humaines. In Biologie évolutive, F. Thomas, T. Lefèvre, et M. Raymond (Eds.), Bruxelles : De Boeck.

5. Chevallier, C., Baumard, N., Grèzes, J., & Pouga L. (2010) Comprendre les actions, émotions et états mentaux d’autrui : psychologie et neurosciences. In A. Berthoz, C. Ossola and B. Stock (Eds.), La pluralite et les fondements cognitifs de la notion de point de vue, Paris: Conférences du Collège de France.

2009 and before (please stop reading)

4. Baumard, N. (2009). Psychologie évolutionniste et sciences sociales, In J.-B. Van der Henst & H. Mercier (Eds.), Darwin en tête, Grenoble : PUG.

3. Baumard, N. (2008) Hard-neurosciences: Greg Egan La science-fiction est-elle de bon conseil pour une aproche cognitive de la morale? Cahier Romans de Sciences Cognitives. 3 (2)

2. Baumard, N. (2007). Comment réconcilier évolution, cognition et culture : une approche contractualiste de la morale. In C. Clavien & C. El Bez (Eds.), L’éthique : l’inné et l’acquis, Lausanne : Presses Universitaires de Lausanne.

1. Baumard, N. (2007). La morale n’est pas le social, Terrain, 48, 49-72.