One of the world’s foremost authorities on human evolutionary biology and behavior, anthropologist Joseph Henrich is a noted author, researcher, professor and Chair of Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. His research deploys evolutionary theory to understand how human psychology gives rise to cultural evolution and how this, in turn, has shaped our species’ genetic evolution. His most recent book focuses on how people from WEIRD societies (Western Educated Industrial Rich Democratic) differ psychologically from the rest of the world, and how much of our understanding of human behavior is WEIRDly biased. With a travel log on par with Indiana Jones, Dr. Henrich has conducted long-term anthropological fieldwork in Peru, Chile and the South Pacific and spearheaded several large comparative projects. As a speaker, he brings together examples from around the world, providing fascinating and thought-provoking information on human psychology and behavior that can be applied to economics, marketing, DEI, teaching, public health and understanding cultural differences from a global perspective.
Dr. Henrich is the author of two popular books written for general audiences. In The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter, he explores how genes and cultures have interacted over hundreds of thousands of years. He argues that the “collective brain”—the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from each other over generations is responsible for our extraordinary success as a species and our uniquely human genetic endowments. Dr. Henrich’s latest book, The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous is an eye-opening analysis of how the cultural institutions of the West literally shaped the way people think and led to Western economic, political and military dominance. Citing that 96% of psychological experiments use WEIRD subjects, he also calls for a more inclusive approach to studying our species.
Before moving to Harvard, Dr. Henrich was a professor of both economics and psychology at the University of British Columbia for nearly a decade, where he held the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution. In 2013-14, he held the Peter and Charlotte Schoenenfeld Faculty Fellowship at NYU’s Stern School of Business. His work has appeared in Current Biology, Being Human, Science, Nature and at BBC.com.