Skip to content Skip to navigation

Cristine Legare

Cristine Legare's profile photo

Cristine Legare

Research Interests: 
cognitive science, cognitive anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, cross cultural analysis, cognitive evolution, cultural learning, childhood, ritual


Cristine Legare is an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research program reflects her commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of human cognition and behavior. Her objective is to examine our capacities to learn, create, and transmit culture in order to increase our understanding of cognitive and cultural evolution. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in southern Africa, and is currently doing research in Brazil, China, and Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago), using both experimental and ethnographic methods.

Her research and training reflect her commitment to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of cognitive development and cultural learning. She draws on insights from cognitive, cultural, and developmental psychology as well as cognitive and psychological anthropology with the aim of facilitating cross-fertilization within and across these disciplines.

Selected Articles

Legare, C.H. & Harris, P.L. (Eds). (2016). The ontogeny of cultural learning. [Special Section]. Child Development, 87(3), 633-833.

Watson-Jones, R. E., Busch, J. T. A., Harris, P. L., & Legare, C.H. (2016, in press). Does the body survive death? Cultural variation in beliefs about life everlasting. Cognitive Science.

Watson-Jones, R.E. & Legare, C.H. (2016). The social functions of group rituals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 42-46.

Watson-Jones, R. E., Whitehouse, H., & Legare, C. H. (2016). In-group ostracism increases high-fidelity imitation in early childhood. Psychological Science, 27(1), 34-42.

Little, E.E., Carver, L.J., & Legare, C.H. (2016). Cultural variation in triadic infant-caregiver object exploration. Child Development, 87(4), 1130-1145.

Wen, N., Herrmann, P.A., & Legare, C.H. (2016). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 54–60.

Legare, C.H., Wen, N.J., Herrmann, P.A., & Whitehouse, H. (2015). Imitative flexibility and the development of cultural learning. Cognition, 142, 351-361.

Legare, C.H., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Imitation and innovation: The dual engines
of cultural learning. Feature article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (TICS), 19, 688-699.

Watson-Jones, R. E., Busch, J. T. A. and Legare, C. H. (2015). Interdisciplinary and cross- cultural perspectives on explanatory coexistence. Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 611–623.

Legare, C.H., & Souza, A.L. (2014). Searching for control: Priming randomness increases the evaluation of ritual efficacy. Cognitive Science, 38, 152-161.

Legare, C.H., & Herrmann, P.A. (2013). Cognitive consequences and constraints on reasoning about ritual. Religion, Brain and Behavior, 3(1), 63-65.

Legare, C.H., & Souza, A.L. (2012). Evaluating ritual efficacy: Evidence from the supernatural. Cognition, 124(1), 1-15.

Legare, C.H., Evans, E.M., Rosengren, K.S., & Harris, P.L. (2012). The coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations across cultures and development. Child Development, 83(3), 779-793.

Gelman, S.A., & Legare, C.H. (2011). Concepts and folk theories. Annual Review of Anthropology, 40, 379-398.

Legare, C.H., & Gelman, S.A. (2008). Bewitchment, biology, or both: The co-existence of natural and supernatural explanatory frameworks across development. Cognitive Science, 32, 607-642.