Cammie Curtin headshotCammie Curtin, FAS
CID PhD Affiliate, Concentrations in Cultural Evolution & Psychology/Anthropology

I am interested in understanding how human cultural practices evolve and, relatedly, how they shape psychology and behavior. My current work examines how social norms and institutionssuch as those governing kinship, economic exchange, and community structureimpact how people think and behave. My research combines cultural evolutionary theory with quantitative and qualitative methods from anthropology, psychology, and behavioral economics. As part of this, I do fieldwork in Zapotec communities of the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico.

My dissertation examines how institutions shape cooperation and prosocial psychology in indigenous communities in Oaxaca. Most relevant to CID, one project investigates how diverse forms of governance in semi-autonomous municipalities of Oaxaca impact public goods outcomes, such as the provisioning of clean drinking water. Many municipalities in Oaxaca are semi-autonomous from the Mexican government and run under traditional systems ("usos y costumbres" or "sistemas normativos indígenas"). The communal institutions related to these systems include things like: communal decision making in assemblies, collaborative labor on public works, required community service, and sanctions for people who don't participate. Do more "intensive" versions of these communal institutions increase cooperation and public goods outcomes? The project involves both fieldwork (ethnography and a priming study within a Zapotec community) and a larger, secondary data analysis.