Patrik Lindenfors

I am a researcher in biological and cultural evolution at the Institute for Future Studies, also associated with the Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution & the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University, and to V-Dem Institute at Gothenburg University.

Besides research, I write books and articles. You can view my books below. I am just in the process of finishing the writing of my fifth book, with the working title The Cultural Animal. There are links to my latest articles to the right, both science and opinion pieces.

I am a board member of Humanists Sweden and the European Humanist Federation, a member of the Swedish Arts Council's evaluation committee for non-fiction literature, and the chairperson for the National Committee for Biology at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

  • For Whose Benefit
    My latest book is For Whose Benefit? The Biological and Cultural Evolution of Human Cooperation - a translated and updated version of my book Samarbete.
  • Sekulär Humanism
    Sekulär humanism (Secular Humanism) is written together with Christer Sturmark. The book explains humanism as a life stance in an easy to understand manner. (In Swedish)
  • Samarbete
    Samarbete (cooperation) takes the reader on a journey, navigating the enigmatic aspects of cooperation; a journey that starts inside the body and continues via our thoughts to the human super-organism. (In Swedish)
  • Gud finns nog inte
    God probably doesn't exist introduces atheism to children and youth. The book has so far been translated into eight languages. (Anyone keen on translating it into Arabic or French? In that case, please send me an e-mail .)

Humanists Sweden

The humanist worldview centers on humanity and human values. Humanism unites compassion and reason in an effort to create a better society, where we ourselves are responsible for what happens. Democracy and human rights are universal values and must be safeguarded for all people.


Bird Brains

"What all these “Aesop’s fable” experiments show is thus nothing more than that you can train birds to carry out incredibly complex behavioral sequences and that they don’t stop learning just because you have put them in an experimental situation (how would they know that?)."

Cultural Evolution

At present, my main focus lies in investigating the evolution of democracy. For this reason, I am one of several project managers for the V-Dem-project at the Department of Political Science in Gothenburg.

I also do research on the evolution of religion, where my aim is to bring order in the relationships between evolutionary factors, psychological factors and religious phenomena. Further, I investigate how health effects of religious practices come about through religious regulations and placebo effects, and how these health effects in turn have affected the evolution of religion.

Biological Evolution

In my biological research, I investigate how species and sex differences in mammal brains are related to sex differences in behaviour. The results so far indicate that behavioral differences between the sexes has hade some influence on primate brain architecture, but also that these relationships are far from clear.

My other biological research focuses mostly on the use and development of phylogenetic methods, especially through analyses of the evolution of sex differences. Besides that, I have long nurtured a special interest for social evolution and in particular the evolution of cooperation.

During my post-doc at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville I investigated what factors that influence parasite diversity. The data I helped gather is available at the Global Mammal Parasite Database.


  • My six latest articles:
  • Lindberg SI, Lindenfors P, Lührmann A, Maxwell L, Medzihorsky J, Morgan R & Matthew C. Wilson 2018 Successful and failed episodes of democratization: conceptualization, identification, and description. Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 79.
  • Wartel A, Lindenfors P & Lind J 2018 Whatever you want: Inconsistent results is the rule, not the exception, in the study of primate brain evolution. BioRxiv 454132.
  • Lindenfors P 2018 Primate social evolution. In: Callan H (ed.) International E class = "list disc"ncyclopedia of Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Navarrete AF, Blezer ELA, Pagnotta M, Lindenfors P, Laland KN & Reader S 2018 Primate brain anatomy: New volumetric MRI measurements for neuroanatomical studies. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 91: 1–9.
  • Milham MP et al. 2018 An Open Resource for Non-human Primate Imaging. Neuron, in press.
  • Leroi A, Lambert B, Mauch M, Papadopoulou M, Ananiadou S, Lindberg SI & Lindenfors P 2018 On revolutions. Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 63.

Opinion & Popular Science