top of page
Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 4.27.36 PM.png


How do societies conceptualize "legitimate" vs. "illegitimate" aggression? 
How do humans inhibit, produce,
and use

Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 12.53.21


How do humans affiliate,

identify, and attach?

What are the objects of attachment?

How do individuals disaffiliate? 

How do thy describe love and kinship?

Behavioral history (n.) –

The study of human actions and patterns of action in history; a historiographical school that explores how an individual's ecology influences his/her actions, and how actions reshape shared and individual ecologies.

Did you know... ?

Like other historiographical approaches (which distinguish themselves according to the disciplines and theories from which they draw), behavioral history is defined by its engagement with fields like biology, behavioral ecology, behavioral economics, and psychology.

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 4.27.36 PM.png


How do humans produce and inhibit aggression? Which individuals are authorized to behave aggressively? How do humans assign aggression
to certain spaces and times?



How do ideas, people, and spaces become objects of attachment?
Under what circumstances

do humans
 detach and distance themselves from people and objects?


Collective Behavior

How do humans behave in groups? How do individuals affiliate and disaffiliate? How do individuals create collective movements? How do individuals navigate between groups?



How do individuals interact with objects? How do groups utilize, exchange, and expend material things in their environment? When are objects used, and in what spaces?

What is the difference between behavioral history and behaviorism?

Behaviorism was a field of psychology popular from 1910–1960. In explaining human actions, the behaviorist school focused on conditioning,  stimulus–response, and environmental factors.


Behavioral history retains behaviorism's interest in applied problems, human learning, and stimulus–response patterns. However, advances in the biosciences have given scholars a better appreciation for 
1) the vast amount of variables in any decision-making setting and 2) the indeterminacy
 of individual responses to cues.


As a result, behavioral history considers most individual and environmental variables to be unknown and unknowable–especially when dealing with historical actors and accounts of their actions. 

Why study behavioral history?

Technological advances are rapidly changing what we know (or think we know) about human behavior. Neuroscience, for example, has provided scholars with new information about how individuals react to environmental cues. The disciplines of philosophy, sociology, and  psychology are already wrestling with these new research findings.

Historians have an important role to play in these debates. Historians can attest to the variability of human behavior through time and across cultures; historians can also alert other scholars to source limitations, and urge caution to those in the hard sciences who would take for granted that their data represents immutable, universal, empirical, or objective fact.


At the same time, the biosciences can alert historians to the significance of environmental factors previously overlooked. Engaging with the sciences can thus reveal new paths of inquiry and methodologies for studying the past. 

Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 1.11.19 PM.png


How do humans use verbal, aural, visual, and kinesthetic processes
to learn? 
Who do individuals choose to imitate, and why? When is learning transmitted, and when does innovation occur?



How do humans communicate
with one another? What types of signals are sent? 
How are signals veiled, received, and interpreted? 
Why do individuals send 

costly signals? 

Bibliography: Behavior 

Centola, Damon. “The Social Origins of Networks and Diffusion.” American Journal of Sociology 120, no. 5 (March 2015): 1295-1338.
Cikara, Mina and Jay J. Van Bavel. “The Neuroscience of Intergroup Relations.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 9, no. 3 (May 2014): 245–274.
Cikara, Mina, Linda W. Chang, and Amy R. Krosch. “Effects of Intergroup Threat on Mind, Brain, and Behavior.” Current Opinion in Psychology 11 (2016): 69–73.
Cornes, Richard and Todd Sandler. The Theory of Externalities, Public Goods, and Club Goods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Gioia, Dennis A. and Peter P. Poole. “Scripts in Organizational Behavior.” The Academy of Management Review 9, no. 3 (July 1984): 449-459.
Henrich, Joseph. “The Evolution of Costly Displays, Cooperation and Religion: Credibility Enhancing Displays and Their Implications for Cultural Evolution.” Evolution and Human Behavior 30 (2009): 244–260.
Iannaccone, Laurence R. “Religious Practice: A Human Capital Approach.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 29, no. 3 (September 1990): 297-314.
Iannaccone, Laurence R. “Why Strict Churches Are Strong.” American Journal of Sociology 99, no. 5 (March 1994): 1180-1211.
Lammers, Joris et al. “Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immorality in Behavior.” Psychological Science 21, no. 5 (2010): 737 –744.
Qirko, Hector. “Altruistic Celibacy, Kin-Cue Manipulation, and the Development of Religious Institutions.” Zygon 39, no. 3 (September 2004): 681-706.
Religion, Cognition, and Behavior Lab at the University of Amsterdam (
Sosis, Richard and Candace Alcorta. “Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior.” Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 12, no. 6 (November 2003): 264-274.
Zimbardo, Philip G. The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.
bottom of page