Patrik Lindenfors

I am an affiliated researcher in biological and cultural evolution at the Institute for Future Studies, and the Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution & the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University, and a senior research officer at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Besides research and work at the Swedish EPA, I write books and articles. My fourth book, The Cultural Animal, and my sixth, Disgust, recieved rave reviews. There are links to my latest articles to the right, both science and opinion pieces.

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


  • Äckel
    Äckel – smitta, synd, samhälle. Disgust makes us avoid spoilt food and people who blow their nose in the table cloth. But feelings of revulsion also inform us about right and wrong.  A book about an emotion and its influence on the culture wars.
  • Kristendom
    Kristendom. Christianity is the world's largest religion and its holy book, the Bible, the world's most influential book. Even people those who do not share the Christian worldview must relate to it. (In Swedish)
  • For Whose Benefit
    Det kulturella djuret – Om människans evolution och tänkandets utveckling. About three evolutionary processes that have shaped our brains and minds: biological evolution, associative learning and cultural evolution. (In Swedish)
  • For Whose Benefit
    For Whose Benefit? The Biological and Cultural Evolution of Human Cooperation. We are all made of parts - genes, cells, neurons, but also ideas (`memes'). Our societies too are made of parts - humans. Is all this cooperation the same process?
  • 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 .)

Senior research officer

After more than 25 years as a researcher I now work as a senior research officer at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Cultural Evolution

The latest scietific work I carried out focussed on investigating the evolution of democracy. For this reason, I was one of several project managers for the V-Dem-project at the Department of Political Science in Gothenburg.

I also did research on the evolution of religion, where my aim was to bring order in the relationships between evolutionary factors, psychological factors and religious phenomena. Further, I investigated 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 investigated how species differences 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 had some influence on primate brain architecture, but also that these relationships are far from clear.

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

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.


  • Five current articles:
  • Wilson MC, Maerz SF, Lindenfors P, Edgell AB, Boese V & Lindberg SI 2023 Episodes of liberalization in autocracies: a new approach to quantitatively studying democratization. Political Science Research & Methods 11: 501-520.
  • Edgell AB, Maerz SF, Maxwell L, Morgan R, Medzihorsky J, Wilson MC, Boese VA, Hellmeier S, Lachapelle J, Lindenfors P, Lührmann A & Lindberg SI 2022 Episodes of Regime Transformation Dataset (v4.0) & Codebook. Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. Available at V-Dem
  • Lindenfors P, Wartel A & Lind J 2021 Dunbar’s number deconstructed. Biology Letters 17: 20210158.
  • Edgell AB, Boese VA, Maerz SF, Lindenfors P & Lindberg SI 2022 The institutional order of liberalization. British Journal of Political Science 52: 1465–1471.
  • Lindenfors P, Wilson MC & Lindberg SI 2020 The Matthew effect in political science: head start and key reforms important for democratization. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 7: 106.

Opinion & Popular Science

  • Five current articles:
  • Lindenfors P 2024 Vår inre apa kan inte rädda oss. Recension av Tillsammans: Människan som människans räddning av Lasse Berg, samt Jägar-samlar-guiden till det tjugoförsta århundradet: Evolutionen och det moderna livets utmaningar av Heather Heying & Bret Weinstein. Respons 23 januari.
  • Lindenfors P 2023 Immunförsvarsmakten. Recension av Foolproof. Why We Fall for Misinformation and How to Build Immunity av Sander van der Linden.Axess Nr. 7.
  • Lindenfors P 2023 Nationalismrn är för viktig för att lämnas åt populister. Forskning & Framsteg 17 november
  • Lindenfors P 2022 Billigt vin i dyra läglar smakar utmärkt. Recension av Hoppets anatomi – Om förväntanseffekter och placebo Karin Jensen. Respons Nr. 4–5.
  • Lindenfors P 2022 Han och hon. Recension av Bitch. A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution and the Female­ Animal av Lucy Cooke. Axess Nr. 6.