Profile picture of Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

Senior Instructor I
Phone: 541-346-5142
Office: 273 Condon Hall
Office Hours: by appointment
Research Interests: Evolution of cultural transmission, social learning, and symbolic behavior; evolutionary psychology; hunter-gatherers; oral tradition; traditional ecological knowledge; play; warfare


B.A., San Diego State (1985); M.A. UC Santa Barbara (1988); Ph.D. UC Santa Barbara (1997)


Dr. Scalise Sugiyama is an evolutionary psychologist/anthropologist who specializes in symbolic and aesthetic behavior, with an emphasis on storytelling, art, and play. Her work investigates the origins of these behaviors—specifically, the selection pressures that led to their emergence, the role they played in ancestral human societies, and the design features of the mind that make them possible. To this end, her work integrates cognitive and developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, hunter-gatherer studies, art history, folklore, and literary study. She teaches courses on the prehistory of literature (Origins of Storytelling) and art behavior (Origins of Art), and on the ecological niche to which humans are adapted (Hunter-Gatherers). She publishes in both scientific and humanities journals, and blogs for the Huffington Post, where she explores modern issues, trends, and behaviors in light of human evolutionary history.

Huffington Post Blog: