Pascal Boyer

Pascal Boyer

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: Psychology

Competition: US & Canada

Washington University in St. Louis

Pascal Boyer studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Paris and Cambridge, where he did his graduate work with Professor Jack Goody, on the memory constraints on transmission of oral literature. He has done anthropological fieldwork in Cameroon on the transmission of the Fang oral epics and on Fang traditional religion. Since then he has worked mostly on the experimental study of cognitive capacities underlying cultural transmission. The aim is to gather behavioral, developmental, and neuro-cognitive evidence for domain-specific capacities in human minds. An anthropological application of these results was a series of studies on supernatural concepts and their retention in memory, as well as a more general description of the cognitive processes involved in transmission of religious concepts. After teaching in Cambridge, San Diego, Lyon, and Santa Barbara, Pascal Boyer moved to his present position at the departments of anthropology and psychology at Washington University, St. Louis.

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