ASU professor cited for paradigm-altering work


Rebecca Howe

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently asked 12 scholars to identify a book published in the last three decades that changed the way they look at the world.

Colin Camerer, professor of behavioral finance and economics at the California Institute of Technology, chose "Culture and the Evolutionary Process" by Arizona State University anthropologist Robert Boyd and University of California, Davis, professor emeritus Peter J. Richerson. The publication is considered a bellwether in the field of gene-culture coevolution.

Its profound influence on Camerer included illustrating how cultural practices and acculturation-promoting genes can jointly evolve to allow behaviors beneficial to groups to arise through individual genetic selection.

Camerer said the work also demonstrated the power of transdisciplinary research.

He hopes that the coevolutionary framework expressed in the book will be used by cultural neuroscientists to better understand brain function in terms of behavior and cultural learning.

Richerson and Boyd, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, also collaborated on the similarly themed books "Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution" and "The Origin and Evolution of Cultures."