The 50 Most Influential Living Psychologists in the World

Leda Cosmides | Evolutionary Psychology

                                                                                    Leda Cosmides

Cosmides was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1957. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from Radcliffe College, and her PhD in 1985 from Harvard University. At Harvard, she worked closely with famed evolutionary theorist Robert L. Trivers. She is currently Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Cosmides, who throughout her career has worked closely and published jointly with her husband, anthropologist John Tooby, is one of the founders of the sub-discipline known as evolutionary psychology (see the entry for David M. Buss, above). As Cosmides has put it:

Evolutionary psychology weaves together cognitive science, human evolution, hunter gatherer studies, neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology, in an attempt to understand and map the human mind and brain.[1]

Her work has been extraordinarily wide-ranging, analyzing from an evolutionary point of view everything from the psychology of cooperation, coalition and friendship formation, incest avoidance, and autism, to threat interpretation, predator-prey relationships, visual attention, statistical reasoning, and multiple memory systems. Cosmides has stated that one reason for casting such a wide net is to illustrate how fruitful and productive evolutionary psychology analyses can be.

She is the author or co-author of some 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters of edited volumes, as well as the co-editor of an influential early work in the field, The Adapted Mind, among other volumes. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including election (in 1995) as Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and appointment as the APA’s 1998 G. Stanley Hall Lecturer. Together with John Tooby, Cosmides co-founded and co-directs the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at UC-Santa Barbara.

Academic Website

Selected Books

  • The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • What is Evolutionary Psychology? (Yale University Press, 2005)

News Date: 

Monday, January 22, 2018