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Charles Efferson

Faculty of Business and Economics
University of Lausanne

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Charles is an evolutionary ecologist squarely focused on the evolution of human social cognition and human social behavior. Although he takes evolutionary ecology as an overarching framework, his research draws from anthropology, economics, psychology, and sociology.

Charles routinely mixes modeling with the analysis of both experimental and observational data.  He has conducted fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and on-line experiments in Armenia, Brazil, Bolivia, Germany, Sudan, Switzerland, and the United States.

Charles is in the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne.  He is co-director of LABEX, together with Adrian Bruhin, and together with Laurent Lehmann and Luís Santos-Pinto he also runs the inter-faculty MSc program in Behaviour, Economics, and Evolution.  Charles is also a CESifo Research Network Affiliate.

Efferson, C., Vogt, S., von Flüe, L. (Forthcoming). Activating cultural change for good in heterogeneous populations. Oxford Handbook of Cultural Evolution.

Faessler, L., Lalive, R., Efferson, C. (2024). How culture shapes choices related to fertility and mortality: Causal evidence at the Swiss language border. Evolutionary Human Sciences. 6: e28.

Schief, M., Vogt, S., Churilova, E., Efferson, C. (2024). Isolating a culture of son preference among Armenian, Georgian and Azeri Parents in Soviet-era Russia. Evolutionary Human Sciences. 6: e19.

Efferson, C., Bernhard, H., Fischbacher, U, and Fehr, E. (2024). Super-additive cooperation. Nature. 626, 1034–1041.

Lonati, S., Lalive, R., Efferson, C. (2024). Identifying culture as cause: challenges and opportunities. Evolutionary Human Sciences. 6, e9.

Efferson, C., Ehret, S., von Flüe, L., Vogt, S. (2024). When norm change hurts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 379: 20230039.

Richerson, P.J., Boyd, R.T., Efferson, C. (2023). Agentic processes in cultural evolution: relevance to Anthropocene sustainability. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 379: 20220252.

von Flüe, L., Efferson, C., and Vogt, S. (2023). Green preferences sustain green washing: challenges in the cultural transition to a sustainable future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 379: 20220268.

Efferson, C., Richerson, P.J., Weinberger, V. (2023). Our fragile future under the cumulative cultural evolution of two technologies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 379: 20220257.

Soraperra, I., Köbis, N., Shalvi, S., Vogt, S., Efferson, C., Offerman, T. (2023). A market for integrity: the use of competition to reduce bribery in education. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics. 107: 102110.

Ehret, S., Constantino, S., Weber, E., Efferson, C., and Vogt, S. (2022). Group identities can undermine social tipping after intervention. Nature Human Behaviour. 6: 1669-1679.

Bellamy, A., McKay, R., Vogt, S., and Efferson C. (2022). What is the extent of a frequency-dependent social learning strategy space?. Evolutionary Human Sciences. 4: e13.

Berger, J., Vogt, S., and Efferson, C. (2022). Pre-existing fairness concerns restrict the cultural evolution and generalization of inequitable norms in children. Evolution and Human Behavior. 43: 1-15.

Berger, J., Efferson, C., and Vogt, S. (2021). Tipping pro-environmental norm diffusion at scale: opportunities and limitations. Behavioural Public Policy. 1-26.

Schimmelpfennig, R., Vogt, S., Ehret, S., and Efferson, C. (2021). Promotion of behavioural change for health in a heterogeneous population. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 99:819–827.

Schief, M., Vogt, S., and Efferson, C. (2021). Investigating the structure of son bias in Armenia with novel measures of individual preferences. Demography. 58 (5): 1737–1764.

Efferson, C. (2021). Policy to activate cultural change to amplify policy. PNAS. 118 (23) e2106306118.

Sulik, J., Efferson, C., and McKay, R. (2021). Collectively jumping to conclusions: Social information amplifies the tendency to gather insufficient data. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 150: 2309–2320.

Efferson, C., McKay, R., and Fehr, E. (2020). The evolution of distorted beliefs versus mistaken choices under asymmetric error costs. Evolutionary Human Sciences. 2: e27.

Efferson, C., Vogt, S., and Fehr, E. (2020). The promise and the peril of using social influence to reverse harmful traditions. Nature Human Behaviour. 4: 55-68.

Efferson, C. (2018). Economic Psychology. International Encyclopedia of Anthropology.

Efferson, C. and Vogt, S. (2018). Behavioural homogenisation with spillovers in a normative domain. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 285: 20180492.

Efferson, C. and Fehr. E. (2018). Simple moral code supports cooperation. Nature. 555: 169-170.

McKay, R., Ross, R., O’Lone, K., and Efferson, C. (2018). The error of God, revisited. Religion, Brain, & Behavior. 8: 306-310.

Benjamin, D. J., Berger, J. O., Johannesson, M., Nosek, B. A., Wagenmakers, E.– J., Berk, R., Bollen, K. A., Brembs, B., Brown, L., Camerer, C., Cesarini, D., Chambers, C. D., Clyde, M., Cook, T. D., De Boeck, P., Dienes, Z., Dreber, A., Easwaran, K., Efferson, C., Fehr, E., Fidler, F., Field, A. P., Forster, M., George, E. I., Gonzalez, R., Goodman, S., Green, E., Green, D. P., Greenwald, A., Hadfield, J. D., Hedges, L. V., Held, L., Ho, T.–H., Hoijtink, H., Jones, J. H., Hruschka, D. J., Imai, K., Imbens, G., Ioannidis, J. P. A., Jeon, M., Kirchler, M., Laibson, D., List, J., Little, R., Lupia, A., Machery, E., Maxwell, S. E., McCarthy, M., Moore, D., Morgan, S. L., Munaf, M., Nakagawa, S., Nyhan, B., Parker, T. H., Pericchi, L., Perugini, M., Rouder, J., Rousseau, J., Savalei, V., Schnbrodt, F. D., Sellke, T., Sinclair, B., Tingley, D., Van Zandt, T., Vazire, S., Watts, D. J., Winship, C., Wolpert, R. L., Xie, Y., Young, C., Zinman, J., and Johnson, V. E. (2018). Redefine Statistical Significance. Nature Human Behaviour. 2: 6-10.

Vogt, S., Efferson, C., and Fehr, E. (2017). The risk of female genital cutting in Europe: Comparing immigrant attitudes toward uncut girls with attitudes in a practicing country. Social Science & Medicine – Population Health. 3: 283-293.

Zimmermann, J. and Efferson, C. (2017). One-shot reciprocity under error management is unbiased and fragile. Evolution and Human Behavior. 38: 39-47.

Efferson, C., Lalive, R., Cacault, M. P., and Kistler, D. (2016). The evolution of facultative conformity based on similarity. PLoS ONE. 11(12): e0168551.

Vogt, S., Zaid, N. A. M., Ahmed, H. E. F., Fehr, E., and Efferson, C. (2016). Changing cultural attitudes on female genital cutting. Nature. 538: 506-509.

Efferson, C., Roca, C., Vogt, S., and Helbing, D. (2016). Sustained cooperation by running away from bad behavior. Evolution and Human Behavior. 37: 1-9.

Efferson, C., Vogt, S., Elhadi, A., Ahmed, H. E. F., and Fehr, E. (2015). Female genital cutting is not a social coordination norm. Science. 349: 1446-1447.

Vogt, S., Efferson, C., Berger, Jöel, and Fehr, E. (2015). Eye spots do not increase altruism in children. Evolution and Human Behavior. 36: 224-231.

Hruschka, D., Efferson, C., Jiang, T., Falletta-Cowden, A., Sigurdsson, S., McNamara, R., Sands, M., Munira, S., Slingerland, E., and Henrich, J. (2014). Impartial institutions, pathogen stress, and the expanding social network. Human Nature. 25: 567-579.

Vogt, S., Efferson, C., and Fehr, E. (2013). Can we see inside? Predicting strategic behavior given limited information. Evolution and Human Behavior. 34: 258-264.

Efferson, C. and Vogt, S. (2013). Viewing men’s faces does not lead to accurate predictions of trustworthiness. Scientific Reports. 3: 1-7.

Efferson, C. (2012). A review of a cooperative species: Human reciprocity and its evolution by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. The Economic Journal. 122: F253-F269.

Paciotti, B., Richerson, P. J., Lubell, M., Waring, T., McElreath, R., Efferson, C., and Edsten, E. (2011). Are religious individuals more generous, trusting, and cooperative? An experimental test of the effect of religion on prosociality. Research in Economic Anthropology. 31: 267-305.

McKay, R., Efferson, C., Whitehouse, H., and Fehr, E. (2010). Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 278: 1858-1863.

McKay, R. and Efferson, C. (2010). The subtleties of error management. Evolution and Human Behavior. 31: 309-319.

Efferson, C., Lalive, R., and Fehr, E. (2008). The coevolution of cultural groups and ingroup favoritism. Science. 321: 1844-1849.

McElreath, R., Bell, A. V., Efferson, C., Lubell, M., Richerson, P. J., and Waring, T. (2008). Beyond existence and aiming outside the laboratory: Estimating frequency-dependent and payoff-biased social learning strategies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 363: 3515-3528.

Efferson, C. (2008). Prey-producing predators: the ecology of human intensification. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences. 12: 55-74.

Efferson, C., Lalive, R., Richerson, P. J., McElreath, R., and Lubell, M. (2008). Conformists and mavericks: The empirics of frequency-dependent cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior. 29: 56-64.

Burkart, J. M., Fehr, E., Efferson, C., and van Schaik, C. P. (2007). Other-regarding preferences in a nonhuman primate: Common marmosets provision food altruistically. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104: 19762-19766.

Efferson, C., Takezawa, M., and McElreath, R. (2007). New methods in quantitative ethnography: Economic experiments and variation in the price of equality. Current Anthropology. 48: 912-919.

Efferson, C. and Richerson, P. J. (2007). A prolegomenon to nonlinear empiricism in the human behavioral sciences. Biology and Philosophy. 22: 1-33.

Efferson, C., Richerson, P. J., McElreath, R., Lubell, M., Edsten, E., Waring, T. M., Paciotti, B., and Baum, W. (2006). Learning, productivity, and noise: An experimental study of cultural transmission on the Bolivian Altiplano. Evolution and Human Behavior. 28: 11-17.

McEachern, M. B., Eagle-Smith, C. A., Efferson, C. M., and Van Vuren, D. H. (2006). Evidence for local specialization in a generalist mammalian herbivore, Neotoma fuscipes. Oikos. 113: 440-448.

McElreath, R., Lubell, M., Richerson, P. J., Waring, T. M., Baum, W., Edsten, E., Efferson, C., and Paciotti, B. (2005). Applying evolutionary models to the laboratory study of social learning. Evolution and Human Behavior. 26: 483-508.

Baum, W. M., Richerson, P. J., Efferson, C. M., and Paciotti, B. M. (2004). Cultural evolution in laboratory microsocieties including traditions of rule giving and rule following. Evolution and Human Behavior. 25: 305-326.

Faessler, L., Lalive, R., Efferson, C. (2023). How culture shapes choices related to fertility and mortality: causal evidence at the Swiss language border. Available at CESifo:

Schief, M., Vogt, S., Churilova, E., Efferson, C. (2023). Isolating a culture of son preference among Armenian, Georgian, and Azeri parents in Soviet-era Russia. Available at CESifo:

Efferson, C., Bernhard, H., Fischbacher, U., and Fehr, E. (2022). Super-Additive Cooperation. Available at CESifo:

Ehret, S., Vogt, S., Hefti, A, and Efferson, C. (2021). Leading with the (recently) successful: performance visibility and the evolution of risk taking. Available at SSRN:

Soraperra, I., Köbis, N., Efferson, C., Shalvi, S., Vogt, S., and Offerman, T. (2019). A market for integrity – an experiment on corruption in the education sector. Available at SSRN: