David Sloan Wilson


PhD, Michigan State University, 1975


Distinguished professor of anthropology and biological science; genetics and culture, evolution, group selection theory, human social groups as adaptive units, integration of biology and the human social sciences, nature of differences in personality traits.



Research interests

I am an evolutionary biologist with a wide range of interests, including natural selection as a hierarchical process, the nature of intraspecific variation, the evolution of ecological communities and human evolutionary biology. My graduate students also work on a wide variety of projects, some closely allied to my own and others more independent. My graduate students and I also work on a wide range of organisms including fish, insects, plants and humans.

Selected bibliography (last 5 years)

Wilson, D.S., M. Van Vugt, and R. O'Gorman (2008). Multilevel selection theory and major evolutionary transitions: implications for psychological science. Current Directions in Psychological Science, in press

Wilson, D. S. and E.O. Wilson (2007). Rethinking the theoretical foundation of sociobiology. Quarterly Review of Biology, in press

Wilson, D.S. (2007). Social Semantics: Toward a genuine pluralism in the study of social behavior. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, in press

Wilson, D.S. and E.O. Wilson (2007). Survival of the Selfless. New Scientist, Nov. 3 pp 42-46.

Wilson, D.S. (2007). Beyond Demonic Memes: Why Richard Dawkins is wrong about religion. Skeptic Magazine, in press; currently available on the web at http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-07-04.html

Wilson, D. S. (2007). Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.

Wilson, D. S. and M. Csikszentmihalyi (2006). Health and the Ecology of Altruism. in The Science of Altruism and Health. S. G. Post, ed. Oxford, Oxford University Press. In Press.

Wilson, D. S. (2006). Human groups as adaptive units: toward a permanent concensus. in The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. P. Carruthers, S. Laurence and S. Stich. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Wilson, D. S. (2005). Testing major evolutionary hypotheses about religion with a random sample. Human Nature in press.

Wilson, D. S. (2005). Evolutionary Social Constructivism. in The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative. J. Gottshcall and D. S. Wilson. Evanston, IL, Northwestern University Press. in press.

Wilson, D. S. (2005). Evolutionary social constructivism: narrowing but not yet bridging the gap. Metanexus Anthropos. 2004.11.17 . http://www.metanexus.net/metanexus_online/show_article.asp?9167

Wilson, D. S. (2005). "Evolution for Everyone: How to increase acceptance of, interest in, and knowledge about evolution." Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology. In press.

Gervais, M. and D. S. Wilson (2005). "The Evolution and Functions of Laughter and Humor: A Synthetic Approach." Quarterly Review of Biology. 80:395-430.

Kniffin, K. M. and D. S. Wilson (2005). "Utilities of gossip across organizational levels: multilevel selection, free-riders, and teams." Human Nature 16: 278-292.

O'Gorman, R. and D. S. Wilson (2005). "Altruistic punishment and helping differ in their sensitivity to genetic relatedness and future interactions." Evolution and Human Behavior 26: 375-387.

Gottschall, J. and D.S. Wilson, Eds. (2005). The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Wilson, D. S. (2004). Natural selection and complex systems: a complex interaction. Self-organization and Evolution of Biological and Social Systems. C. Hemelrijk. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press: in press.

Wilson, D. S., Ed. (2004). The New Fable of the Bees. Advances in Austrian Economics 7: 201-220.

Wilson, D. S. (2004). "What is wrong with absolute individual fitness?" Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19: 245-248.

Wilson, D. S., J. Timmel, et al. (2004). "Cognitive cooperation: when the going gets tough, think as a group." Human Nature 15: 225-250.

Kniffin, K. and D. S. Wilson (2004). "The effect of non-physical traits on the perception of physical attractiveness: three naturalistic studies." Evolution and Human Behavior 25: 88-101.


Last Updated: 8/2/16