Workshop on “Kinship, Historical Psychology and European Medieval Development


This workshop has both broad and specific goals. Broadly, we aim to explore and develop the field of historical psychology, emphasizing the use of historical texts, historical databases and other data sources to measure aspects of psychology/culture and test hypotheses about psychological and cultural change. Specifically, we are interested in the hypothesis that the successful diffusion of political, legal, and economic institutions is influenced by people’s social organization and their psychology. When less constrained by strong kin networks, people develop psychologies that are more individualistic, analytic, and non-conformist. These ways of thinking nurture impersonal rule-following, liberty, free markets, and increasingly democratic societies anchored around individual rights. This approach highlights the importance of understanding long-run developments within a broader co-evolutionary context that incorporates the role of informal norms, religion, kinship, and historical psychology.

Our workshop takes a comparative approach and aims to explore new research directions and methodologies to gain deeper insights into these questions. One such methodological focus will be on computational textual approaches, and their ability to trace historical psychology and kinship systems over space and time. By assembling a group of outstanding researchers across various academic disciplines, we aim to foster a diverse exchange of approaches and knowledge, enriching our understanding of the roles played by religion, kinship, and psychology for economic and institutional development over time. By drawing lessons from the past, we seek to gain valuable insights that will inform our understanding of the future.


Welcome & Introduction — Joe Henrich

Session 1: Kinship and Psychology in Europe

Session 2: Kinship and Psychology Comparatively

Session 3: Europe Through the Ages

Session 4: Cultural Economics and Historical Psychology

Session 5: Tools and Techniques

Session 6: Textual Data

Summary, Review, and Discussion