Comparative study of evolutionary processes: biological and cultural
Under what conditions can something evolve? In what sense does culture evolve?
How did the human mind become capable of evolving culture? How did it become so creative?
How does the creative process work?
The overarching goal of my research is to develop a coherent theory of the process by which culture evolves. I aim to bring forward a theoretical framework for cultural evolution that is as sound as our theoretical framework for biological evolution, and apply it to the tasks of reconstructing our past, exploring possible futures, and furthering human wellbeing. A major component of this interdisciplinary enterprise involves explicating the mechanisms underlying creativity and how the complexity and creativity of the human mind came about. The methods used by my students and I to gain insight into cultural evolution and the creative process include mathematical and computational modelling, as well as human experiments. Current, past and upcoming research projects are outlined in more detail here.
Here is something cool. This website shows the 'intellectual genealogy' of each person who has earned a PhD in mathematics or a related discipline, showing who their doctoral advisor was, and his/her doctoral advisor, and so forth. My intellectual lineage includes Bohr, de Broglie, Poincare, Poisson, Euler, Newton, and Galileo! (Some of these people had two co-advisors so there are multiple branches. If you don't get to these people from one branch try another. From Aerts more interesting to go to Reignier rather than Piron (although there are some famous scientists on that branch too). There are a few more co-advisors branches after that, but interestingly, not all the famous people are in the same branch.)
I am eager to work with graduate and undergraduate students. If you are an A student and would like to work on one of the above topics in a fun, interdisciplinary
environment, with money for summer research and conference travel, drop me a line. To ensure that I have sufficient time for students, I only accept one honours student per academic year and one directed study student per semester. I will consider taking additional undergraduate projects if they are co-supervised by one of my advanced graduate students or by another faculty member.
Gabora, L., O’Connor, B., & Ranjan, A. (2012). The recognizability of individual creative styles within and across domains. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(4), 351-360. [http://arxiv.org/abs/1309.2615] [pdf]
Gabora, L. (2010). Revenge of the 'neurds': Characterizing creative thought in terms of the structure and dynamics of human memory. Creativity Research Journal, 22(1), 1-13. [pdf]
Gabora, L., & Aerts, D. (2009). A model of the emergence and evolution of integrated worldviews. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 53, 434-451. [http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.1399] [pdf]
Gabora, L. & Holmes, N. (2010). Dangling from a tassel on the fabric of socially constructed reality: Reflections on the creative writing process. In (A. Cropley, D. Cropley, J. Kaufman, & M. Runco, Eds.) The Dark Side of Creativity (pp. 277-296). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]
Gabora, L. & Kaufman, S. (2010). Evolutionary perspectives on creativity. In (J. Kaufman & R. Sternberg, Eds.) Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. (pp. 279-300). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]
Henderson, M. & Gabora, L. (2013). The recognizability of authenticity. Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2524-2529). Held July 31 - Aug. 3, Berlin. Houston TX: Cognitive Science Society. [http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4707] [pdf]
Gabora, L., & Saab, A. (2011). Creative interference and states of potentiality in analogy problem solving. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3506-3511). July 20-23, Boston MA.
Gabora, L. (2008). Modeling cultural dynamics. Proceedings of the
Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Fall
Symposium 1: Adaptive Agents in a Cultural Context,. Nov 7-9, The Westin
Arlington Gateway, Arlington VA, (pp. 18-25). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.