I am a psychological anthropologist studying how natural selection, neurobiology, ontogeny, psychology, and culture jointly shape human sociality.
My research aims to understand what enables humans to coordinate in often cooperative, complex, culturally and historically varying systems of social relations. I study social and moral cognition, motives and emotion; relationship-constitutive actions, experiences, and communications; motivations for violence; interpretations of misfortune and death; and links between psychopathology and social relationships. My current research focuses on the emotion often called being moved or touched; see our Kama muta lab. My methods integrate participant observation ethnography, broad ethnological and historical comparison, systematic sampling of behavior, and experimentation. But I am fundamentally a theorist, indicatively exploring the ontology and epistemology of social phenomena through systematic ethnological and historical comparison.
The framework for my work is relational models theory (RMT), an integrated and comprehensive theory of human sociality that I initially formulated. RMT connects the evolved neurobiology and psychology of human social relationships to their developmentally discovered cultural implementations. At this point, RMT has been extensively tested, applied, or developed in articles, theses and books by over 275 social, cognitive, developmental, and clinical psychologists; anthropologists and archeologists; sociologists; neuroscientists; philosophers; religious study researchers and management scientists. (RMT has also been cited in about 6000 other works.) My research network continually connects scholars across the US, Canada, Norway, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, and Australia. Currently I am writing a book and collaborating on experimental and field studies of the emotion we call kama muta — approximately, being moved, touched, stirred, having a rapturous experience, or tender feelings toward cuteness.
A. P. Fiske 1991. Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations. New York: Free Press (Macmillan).
A.P. Fiske & N. Haslam 1996. Social Cognition Is Thinking About Relationships. Current
Directions in Psychological Science. 5:143-148.
A.P. Fiske & N. Haslam 1997. Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder of Pathology of the Human Disposition to Perform Socially Meaningful Rituals? Evidence of Similar Content. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 185:211-222.
A.P. Fiske, S. Kitayama, H. Markus, & D. Nisbett 1997. The Cultural Matrix of Social Psychology. In Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th Ed. Gilber, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey, Eds. Pp. 915-981. New York: McGraw Hill.
A. P. Fiske 2000. Complementarity Theory: Why Human Social Capacities Evolved to Require Cultural Complements. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 4:76-94.
M. Iacoboni, M. D. Lieberman, B. J. Knowlton, I. Molnar-Szakacs, M. Moritz, J. Throop, & A. P. Fiske 2004. Watching Social Interactions Produces Dorsomedial Prefrontal and Medial Parietal BOLD fMRI Signal Increases Compared to a Resting Baseline. NeuroImage 21:1167–1173.
A. P. Fiske 2004. Four Modes of Constituting Relationships: Consubstantial Assimilation; Space, Magnitude, Time and Force; Concrete Procedures; Abstract Symbolism In N. Haslam, Ed., Relational Models Theory: A Contemporary Overview. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Tage Rai & A. P. Fiske 2011. Moral Psychology as Regulating Relationships: Moral Motives for Unity, Hierarchy, Equality, and Proportionality in Social-Relational Cognition. Psychological Review 118:57–75. DOI: 10.1037/a0021867
Daniel Nettle, Karthik Panchanathan, Tage Rai, & A. P. Fiske 2011. The Evolution of Giving, Sharing, and Lotteries. Current Anthropology 52:747–756.
A. P. Fiske 2011. Metarelational Models: Configurations of Social Relationships.
European Journal of Social Psychology 42:2–18. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.847.
A. P. Fiske & Tage Rai 2015. Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Cambridge University Press.