I study the evolution of cognition.
I am a biological anthropologist specializing in evolutionary psychology, the study of the mind’s evolved mechanisms and processes. In my work I use methods from anthropology and psychology to examine universals and variation in how thinking develops across cultures. I conduct field research among the Shuar, an indigenous culture in southeast Ecuador, as well as in Los Angeles. My research has focused on learning and conceptual development in several domains, including “theory of mind,” or the ability to make inferences about others’ thoughts and intentions, and learning about danger. I have also collaborated with a variety of anthropologists, psychologists, and other social scientists on a variety of topics ranging from infant-directed speech to the evolution of morality, and supervise graduate projects on the evolution of cognition.
Evolutionary psychology, biological anthropology, cognitive development, hunter-gatherer ecology; South America
Hagen, E., and Barrett, H. C. (2007). Perinatal sadness among Shuar women: Support for an evolutionary theory of psychic pain. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 21, 22-40.
Barrett, H. C. & Behne, T. (2005). Children’s understanding of death as the cessation of agency: A test using sleep versus death. Cognition, 96, 93-108.
Barrett, H.C., Todd, P.M., Miller, G.F., and Blythe, P. (2005). Accurate judgments of intention from motion alone: A cross-cultural study. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 313-331.
Barrett, H. C. (2004). Descent versus design in Shuar children’s reasoning about animals. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 4, 25-50.