The big questions we seek to answer...

Examples of some big questions we seek to answer

  • What motivates human behavior?

  • What makes humans unique?

  • How has human biology and behavior been shaped by evolution, and how does human biology and behavior respond to cultural norms, family systems, political economic forces and developmental experiences?

  • What shapes preferences at individual-, family- and societal levels, and what are the outcomes of those preferences?

  • How do social groups and institutions emerge, function, and break down?

... and the tools we use to answer them

IAST is dedicated interdisciplinary research with a scientific program involving ten scientific disciplines: anthropology, biology, economics, history, law, mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology.

With over 70 researchers in house we have a large enough group to spark lively dialogue on many subjects but at a small scale than that of a social sciences university. This is a strength: we do not seek to become large enough for the researchers from our various disciplines to be tempted to go it alone, or to defend the special interests of their discipline. We believe in a unified scientific project: we are all seeking to understand the behavior of human beings, a challenge which requires the deployment of many scientific tools, which cannot all be mastered by any single researcher. Teamwork is therefore inevitable, and our researchers are committed to working in teams to meet this challenge.

Most of our researchers have trained within a single disciplinary framework, from which they reach out in their work to researchers from other disciplines. But no researcher at IAST is required to undertake cross-disciplinary collaborations. All we ask our researchers to do is to listen to each other on a regular basis, in our seminars, conferences and informal Tuesday lunch meetings, and to be prepared to explain their research interests in terms comprehensible outside their own discipline. That process of listening often leads our researchers to discover affinities they had not previously suspected, and as a result to collaborate with each other in a range of ways, from informal conversation to formal co-authorship.

We invite researchers from any discipline who are interested in understanding human behavior as part of a shared interdisciplinary endeavor to come and join us in exploring questions of central importance to human society in the 21st century.