The Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST) invites applications for a postdoctoral position offering applicants the opportunity to join the research project “Uncovering and mitigating the detrimental effects of social learning on the discovery of new solutions”. The postdoctoral position is a full-time fixed-term position for 2 years starting on 1st September 2023. The project is led by Dr Maxime Derex and funded by the French National Research Agency.
The research project
Social learning is essential for the gradual accumulation of cultural information. However, relying too much on social information can lead to the persistence of arbitrary solutions and hinder collective innovation. The goal of the project is to better understand how social learning affects reasoning and creative thinking, and ultimately shapes cultural evolution. The project involves two main lines of inquiries: 1) examining the impact of social learning on individuals’ exploration, and 2) exploring how group structure can be used to reduce the detrimental effects of social learning on collective innovation. The project aims to gain insight into this issue by conducting online, lab and field experiments.
We expect the postdoc to take a leading role in designing, implementing, and conducting experiments investigating one of the two lines of inquiry described above. The research questions can be adapted to the interests and background knowledge of the candidate, as long as they are related to the central theme of the project. The term “cultural transmission” is to be understood in a broad sense and can cover everything from learning from the observation of another individual’s solution to institutional education. The term “group structure“ refers to everything that affects the flow of social information and how information is distributed within the group.
Applicants are expected to hold – or be close to completing – a PhD in a relevant discipline such as anthropology, psychology, biology, cognitive science, or other related fields. Applicants should have a general interest in interdisciplinary research and a strong interest in a topic closely related to the project such as social learning, reasoning, creative thinking and group problem-solving. We expect applicants to have strong quantitative skills and experience with, or a strong interest in, experimental research.
The postdoc will be part of IAST whose mission is to foster interdisciplinary research. IAST has a unified scientific project whose aim is to study the behavior of human beings as evolved biological organisms who live in groups, form networks and coalitions, are governed by formal institutions and informal norms, produce and exchange scarce resources and are inspired by ideals and beliefs. IAST hosts researchers from disciplines such as psychology, anthropology, biology and economics. The institute is located in downtown Toulouse, a lively city in Southwest France.
How do I apply?
Please send a cover letter, 2 writing samples (e.g. published peer-reviewed journal article, preprint or working paper), your CV and the names and email addresses of 2-3 referees to Maxime Derex (maxime.derex[at]iast.fr). The deadline for submitting your application is April 14, 2023. IAST supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from members of underrepresented groups, and citizens of all countries.