A Cross-Disciplinary Survey of Beliefs about Human Nature, Culture, and Science

Joseph Carroll University of Missouri, St. Louis
John A. Johnson Pennsylvania State University
Catherine Salmon University of Redlands in California
Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen Aarhus University
Mathias Clasen Aarhus University
Emelie Jonsson University of Gothenburg

ABSTRACT: How far has the Darwinian revolution come? To what extent have evolutionary ideas penetrated into the social sciences and humanities? Are the “science wars” over? Or do whole blocs of disciplines face off over an unbridgeable epistemic gap? To answer questions like these, contributors to top journals in 22 disciplines were surveyed on their beliefs about human nature, culture, and science. More than 600 respondents completed the survey. Scoring patterns divided into two main sets of disciplines. Genetic influences were emphasized in the evolutionary social sciences, evolutionary humanities, psychology, empirical study of the arts, philosophy, economics, and political science. Environmental influences were emphasized in most of the humanities disciplines and in anthropology, sociology, education, and women’s or gender studies. Confidence in scientific explanation correlated positively with emphasizing genetic influences on behavior, and negatively with emphasizing environmental influences. Knowing the current actual landscape of belief should help scholars avoid sterile debates and ease the way toward fruitful collaborations with neighboring disciplines. Read Full Article on JSTOR →