SELECTED MEDIA

Video/Audio


Explaining some of the key points about whale and dolphin behaviour and society live on BBC World News with Matthew Amroliwala based on Fox, K. C. R., Muthukrishna, M. & Shultz, S. (2017). The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1.  [Read More] [Download]

Discussing research on whale and dolphin behaviour and society on CBC “The Broadcast” with Jane Adey based on Fox, K. C. R., Muthukrishna, M. & Shultz, S. (2017). The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1.  [Read More] [Download]

Discussing research on whale and dolphin behaviour and society on BBC World Service “Science in Action” with Roland Pease based on Fox, K. C. R., Muthukrishna, M. & Shultz, S. (2017). The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1.  [Read More] [Download]

Explaining some of the key points about innovation in the collective brain based on Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Read More] [Download]

Talk describing the Database of Religious History (DRH) at the 2014 SSHRC Impact Awards in Ottawa, Ontario. [Read More]

Animation describing the vision of the Database of Religious History (DRH). Winner of the 2014 SSHRC Storytellers Competition. [Read More]

Explaining research on how “Sociality influences cultural complexity” to Philip Till at CKNW based on from Muthukrishna, M., Shulman, B. W., Vasilescu, V., & Henrich, J. (2013). Sociality influences cultural complexity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1774). [Read More] [Download]

Images

02_michaelmuthukrishna_ltr

Graphic produced by LILA, Harvard based on my talk “Sources of Innovation: The Secret of Human Success”. [Read More]

06_michael_ltr

Graphic produced by LILA, Harvard based on my talk “Sources of Innovation: The Secret of Human Success”. [Read More]

F3.large

Relationship between sociality (number of speakers) and language efficiency from Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Read More] [Download]

figure4

Experiment 2 showing difference between access to models on cultural loss and cultural complexity equlibrium from Muthukrishna, M., Shulman, B. W., Vasilescu, V., & Henrich, J. (2013). Sociality influences cultural complexity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1774). [Read More] [Download]

Experiment 1

Experiment 1 showing difference between access to models on cultural complexity from Muthukrishna, M., Shulman, B. W., Vasilescu, V., & Henrich, J. (2013). Sociality influences cultural complexity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1774). [Read More] [Download]

Press Releases

Whales and dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/whales-and-dolphins-have-rich-human-like-cultures-and-societies/

Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects – much like human societies.

A major new study, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution (Monday 16th October), has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behaviour to the size of their brains.

The research was a collaboration between scientists at The University of Manchester, The University of British Columbia, Canada, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Stanford University, United States.

The study is first of its kind to create a large dataset of cetacean brain size and social behaviours. The team compiled information on 90 different species of dolphins, whales, and porpoises. It found overwhelming evidence that Cetaceans have sophisticated social and cooperative behaviour traits, similar to many found in human culture. The study demonstrates that these societal and cultural characteristics are linked with brain size and brain expansion – also known as encephalisation. EXPAND

Reference: ‘The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains’, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0336-y


When less is best

http://www.lse.ac.uk/News/Research-Highlights/World-regions-and-development/When-less-is-best

Why nations fail is a question that has long troubled social scientists. One of the most commonly cited explanations is that corruption—the bribes, nepotism, and tax avoidance that deplete the public purse and enrich private citizens—is to blame. Over time, corruption gradually undermines the state and can eventually lead to its collapse.Dr Michael Muthukrishna of the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science has a new study looking at the dynamics of corruption. His work supports the theory that corruption is inevitable due to evolved human behaviour; the challenge is to find the conditions where corruption can be minimised.Corruption is actually a form of cooperation rooted in our history, and easier to explain than a functioning, modern state. Modern states represent an unprecedented scale of cooperation that is always under threat by smaller scales of cooperation. What we call ‘corruption’ is a smaller scale of cooperation undermining a larger-scale,” Dr Muthukrishna says.EXPAND

Behind the article

Corrupting Cooperation and How Anti-Corruption Strategies May Backfire Data by Michael Muthukrishna, Patrick Francois, Shaya, Pourahmadi and Joseph Henrich was published in Nature Human Behaviour in July 2017.

Winners of 2016 CGS/ProQuest® Distinguished Dissertation Awards Announced

http://www.proquest.com/about/news/2016/Winners-of-2016-CGS-ProQuest-Distinguished-Dissertation-Awards.html

WASHINGTON, DC, December 8, 2016 – The Council of Graduate Schools / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious honors for doctoral dissertations, were presented to Scott Cushing and Michael Muthukrishna at an awards ceremony during the Council’s 56th Annual Meeting. Dr. Cushing completed his PhD in 2015 at West Virginia University in Physics, and Dr. Muthukrishna received his PhD in 2015 from the University of British Columbia in Psychology.

EXPAND

Our collective genius and why we are all getting smarter

http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2016/02/OurCollectiveGenius.aspx

New ideas and technologies are not the product of a few far-sighted geniuses but arise through societies and social networks acting as ‘collective brains’, says new research from LSE and Harvard University.

The paper, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, argues that, over evolutionary time, individuals who mimicked other successful individuals –  eating the foods they ate or hunting with the tools they used, for example – became successful themselves without necessarily understanding why. Over time, innovations emerged through the mixing of ideas, serendipity and incremental improvement. These accumulated over generations and were similarly passed on as ‘cultural knowledge’ leading to the complex world we live in today.

EXPAND

Majority rule: why conformity can actually be a good thing

http://news.ubc.ca/2015/07/28/majority-rule-why-conformity-can-actually-be-a-good-thing/

Like to go your own way? Most of us actually prefer to follow the pack, according to UBC research.

That’s one of the outcomes from a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior that examines how mathematical models predict human behaviour.

The research tested theories about when people should rely on “social information” – information that we learn vicariously from others – and when we should choose to go it alone.

“People are conformist – and that’s a good thing for cultural evolution,” said Michael Muthukrishna, a Vanier and Liu Scholar and recent PhD recipient from UBC’s department of psychology. “By being conformist, we copy the things that are popular in the world. And those things are often good and useful.”

EXPAND