Experimental Anthropology Lab

About the Lab

The Experimental Anthropology Lab at UConn is dedicated to developing a paradigm for studying human culture scientifically in real-life settings. It promotes methodological innovation and integration in the study of culture through a combination of in-depth qualitative field research with experimental methods and advanced technological tools.

Our main areas of focus include cultural expressions that may at first glance appear bizarre or superfluous but help people across cultures find comfort, meaning, and connection. We study rituals, sports, music, dancing, and other things that make us truly human. As experimental anthropologists, we are interested in both universal and local aspects of those experiences.

Our lab space at the UConn Storrs campus is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for conducting controlled experiments as well as developing and refining tools and methods to be used in the field. Our students conduct research in various parts of the world, including Mauritius, Turkey, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, and the U.S.

The relationship between our laboratory and field work is dynamic and continuous. Rather than taking subjects out of context and moving them into sterilized laboratory settings, we often seek to take the laboratory into context by moving it into the field. In turn, our findings from the field often produce more specific questions that inform more targeted studies in the lab. This involves a consilient and thoroughly interdisciplinary approach that cuts across the sciences and the humanities. Indeed, rather than being confined to any single methodological tradition, our work is motivated by our fascination with culture and driven by big questions.

A Tamil boy in Mauritius stoically endures the pain of facial piercings.

Selected Publications

Baranowski-Pinto, G. Profeta, V. Newson, M., Whitehouse, H. & Xygalatas, D (2022). Being in a crowd bonds people via physiological synchrony. Nature Scientific Reports 12: 613

Xygalatas, D., P. Maňo, V. Bahna, R. Kundt, E. Kundtová-Klocová, M. Lang & J. Shaver (2021). Social inequality and signaling in a costly ritual. Evolution and Human Behavior 42: 524–533

Xygalatas, D., Maňo, P., & Baranowski-Pinto, G. (2021). Ritualization increases the perceived efficacy of instrumental actions. Cognition 215, 104823

Lang, M., J. Krátký & D. Xygalatas (2020). The Role of Ritual Behavior in Anxiety Reduction: An Investigation of Marathi Religious Practices in Mauritius. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 375: 20190431

Xygalatas, D., S. Khan, M. Lang, R. Kundt, E. Kundtová-Klocová, J. Krátký & J. Shaver (2019). Effects of extreme ritual practices on health and well-being. Current Anthropology 60(5): 699-707

Our Team

Lab Director

Graduate Students

Christopher Manoharan (Anthropology)
Sevgi Demiroglu (Anthropology)
Steve Medeiros (Anthropology)
Mohammad Amin Saraei (Psychological Sciences)
Meara Geraty (Psychological Sciences)

Contact Us

Address: Beach Hall, Room 446
354 Mansfield Road Unit 1176
Storrs, CT 06269-1176
More: http://experimentalanthropology.com