Faculty Series Lecture: Michael McCullough, Ph.D. | Center for Leadership | Florida International University | FIU
Skip to Main Content

Faculty Series Lecture: Michael McCullough, Ph.D.

The Faculty Series was created to provide intimate venues that encourage faculty/student interaction. The Series invites accomplished faculty from other universities to share their research with an audience of FIU graduate students and faculty.


  • About the lecture

    “Thanks to Darwin”: Gratitude and the Evolution of Friendship in Biological Markets

    Emotion theorists have speculated about the functions of gratitude for two millennia, but little scientific progress could be made before the advent of two powerful tools for thinking: Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the computational theory of mind. In this talk, Dr. McCulough reviews over a dozen empirical facts for which a tenable theory of gratitude must account, and then offers a new explanation that meets this challenge. Our explanation for gratitude commits to a function: Gratitude’s function is to motivate behaviors that induce seemingly profitable relationship partners to make time for the grateful individual within their circles of most favored cooperation partners. In plain English, gratitude motivates humans to “be a friend” in order to “make a friend.” In this talk, Dr. McCulough will present results of a new experiment in which novel predictions based on this hypothesis are tested.

  • Date

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013


  • Michael McCullough, Ph.D.

    Michael McCullough, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Psychology University of Miami

    Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, where he directs the Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory and coordinates the Evolution and Behavior emphasis within the Psychology Department’s Ph.D. Program. Professor McCullough’s research, which is heavily influenced by evolutionary approaches to understanding human cognition and behavior, focuses on (a) psychological mechanisms related to social exchanges of costs and benefits (for example, forgiveness, revenge, and gratitude); (b) religion; and (c) self-control. He has written more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In addition, Professor McCullough has authored and edited several books, the most recent of which is Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct. Professor McCullough’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the John Templeton Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Fetzer Institute.