Michael Varnum uses insights from biology to help understand sources of cultural variation and causes of cultural change. In one line of research, he uses frameworks and tools from behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, and econometrics to understand the causes of patterns of cultural change and to forecast future patterns of change (including changes in individualism, gender equality, contempt, and lyrical complexity). He also uses ecology as a way to understand patterns of cultural variation. In addition, he uses EEG and ERP to explore cultural variations in a range of psychological processes including empathy, emotion regulation, and mirror responses to others’ motor movements. Varnum heads the Culture and Ecology Laboratory at ASU.
Professor Varnum received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Michigan in 2011. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Peking University, China, from 2011-2013. He joined ASU in 2013.