We work with theories of social evolution in the hope that our findings will shape a more peaceful world.


Our Mission

The SALT Lab's mission is to unearth the causes of cooperation and conflict. Equipped with careful research, we aspire to inform public policy—to make the world a safer place. 


How We Work

Evolutionary theory is the framework we use to understand the apparent “design” of living things. With it, we generate hypotheses about the functions of particular features or traits and, from there, the forms those traits might take. For instance, many species have psychological mechanisms that function to recognize genealogical kin. However, each works in a different way. One mechanism leads individuals to help nest-mates, say, whereas another causes them to help others who look (or smell, or sound) similar. 

We believe that good theory is instrumental to good research. In the SALT Lab, our work begins by identifying existing theories and by developing new ones. Thereafter, we develop hypotheses and design studies to test them. We use a diversity of empirical methods: experimental and epidemiological, monetary and attributional.


About The Name

SALT is just a bit of silliness. Our proper name is the Social Evolution Lab, or SEL. In French, sel means salt. Appropriately, however, “salt” has another meaning—one hinted at in this, the first sentence of a singularly important paper:

We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.).
— Watson & Crick (1953)