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Psychological origins of the Industrial Revolution: More work is needed!

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2019

Nicolas Baumard*
Institut Jean Nicod, Département d'Etudes Cognitives, ENS, EHESS, CNRS, PSL Research University, 75005 Paris, France. nbaumard@gmail.com


I am grateful to have received so many stimulating commentaries from interested colleagues regarding the psychological origins of the Industrial Revolution and the role of evolutionary theory in understanding historical phenomena. Commentators criticized, extended, and explored the implications of the perspective I presented, and I wholeheartedly agree with many commentaries that more work is needed. In this response, I thus focus on what is needed to further test the psychological origins of the Industrial Revolution. Specifically, I argue, in agreement with many commentators, that we need: (1) better data about standards of living, psychological preferences, and innovation rates (sect. R1); (2) better models to understand the role of resources (and not just mortality) in driving cultural evolution and the multiple aspects of the behavioral constellation of affluence (sect. R2); and (3) better predictions and better statistical instruments to disentangle the possible mechanisms behind the rise of innovativeness (genetic selection, rational choice, and phenotypic plasticity) (sect. R3).

Author's Response
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