Manvir Singh

Manvir Singh Portrait

Position Title
Assistant Professor

208 Young Hall
Office Hours
Winter 2024: Mondays 4:10–6:00 PM


  • PhD, Harvard University, 2020
  • ScB, Brown University, 2012


I direct the Integrative Anthropology Lab, which combines evolutionary, cognitive, and sociocultural methods and theory to understand the nature and origins of human behavior, particularly ubiquitous sociocultural traditions such as shamanism, witchcraft, story, and music. I am also interested in ancestral social organization, drug use and mystical experiences, and evolutionary approaches to mental health. My research is mostly built on two methods: (1) long-term ethnographic fieldwork and (2) the construction and analysis of cross-cultural databases. Since 2014, I have worked with Mentawai communities on Siberut Island, Indonesia. You can learn more about work and our projects at the lab website and my personal webpage.

I also write essays for non-academic audiences, most recently and most often for The New Yorker. You can find my pieces here.


For a full, up-to-date list of publications, visit Google Scholar or the lab website.

Fitouchi, L. & Singh, M. (2023) Punitive justice serves to restore reciprocal cooperation in three small-scale societies. Evolution and Human Behavior 44:502–514.

Singh, M. & Mehr, S. A. (2023) Universality, domain-specificity and development of psychological responses to music. Nature Reviews Psychology 2:333–346.

Singh, M. (2022) Subjective selection and the evolution of complex culture. Evolutionary Anthropology 31:266–280.

Singh, M. & Glowacki, L. (2022) Human social organization during the Late Pleistocene: Beyond the nomadic-egalitarian model. Evolution and Human Behavior 43:418-431.

Singh, M. & Garfield, Z. (2022) Evidence for third-party mediation but not punishment in Mentawai justice. Nature Human Behaviour 6:930-940.

Singh, M. (2021) Magic, explanations, and evil: The origins and design of witches and sorcerers. Current Anthropology 62:2-29.

Singh, M., Kaptchuk, T. J., & Henrich, J. (2021) Small gods, rituals, and cooperation: The Mentawai water spirit Sikameinan. Evolution and Human Behavior 42:61-72.

Mehr, S. A., Singh, M., Knox, D., Ketter, D. M., Pickens-Jones, D., Atwood, S., Lucas, C., Egner, A., Jacoby, N., Hopkins, E. J., Howard, R. M., Hartshorne, J. K., Jennings, M. V., Simson, J., Bainbridge, C. M., Pinker, S., O’Donnell, T. J., Krasnow, M. M., & Glowacki, L. (2019) Universality and diversity in human song. Science 366:eaxx0868.

Singh, M. (2018) The cultural evolution of shamanism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41:e66.