The Experimental Anthropology Lab at the Anthropology Department of the University of Connecticut is directed by Dr. Dimitris Xygalatas. It 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 human cognition and behavior through a combination of in-depth qualitative and quantitative field research, controlled experimentation, and advanced technological tools.

Our lab space in Storrs is equipped with state-of-the-art portable technology for behavioral and physiological monitoring in lab and field settings. Measures include:
Physiological monitoring (GSR, HRV, Sleep Efficiency, enabled for EMG, EEG, eye-tracking, and more)
Behavioral monitoring (actigraphy, motion detection, economic experiments, and more)
Emotional monitoring (pain, discomfort, and more)
Sociometric monitoring (interpersonal distance, turn-taking, network cohesion, postural mimicry, and more)

Our field station in Mauritius, called the Mauritian Laboratory for Experimental Anthropology (MALEXA), provides an extensive network of local assistants, collaborators, gatekeepers and field sites, and an ideal setting for naturalistic studies, which in turn generate new questions and a need for new methodological tools. The relationship between our lab and field work is thus dynamic and continuous.

As experimental anthropologists, we view experimentation as a method, as an object of study, and as a research aesthetic. Rather than taking subjects out of context and moving them into sterilized laboratory settings where they become “objects” of experimentation, we seek to take the laboratory into context by moving it into the field. Through this combination of anthropological and experimental techniques, experiments become for anthropologists a new form of obtaining data as well as a new way of being in the field, while at the same time allowing them to problematize some of the standard methods used to study behaviour and reflect on their merits, limitations, and ultimately contribute to their refinement and improvement.

Our main areas of focus include the cognitive and biological underpinnings of human bonding and cooperation, in various domains such as ritual behavior, sports, and music.