• Denise Laya Mercado
  • Advisor: Dr. Lee Cronk
  • Focus Area: Modern Humans

    I joined the Rutgers Department of Anthropology in 2017 after earning my B.A. in anthropology from Penn State University. 


    My dissertation research focuses on how individuals reconcile mutually contradicting features or causal explanations based in different meaning-making systems (such as science and religion or two different sets of religious beliefs) in order to flexibly manage coalitional ties. I use experiments and economic games to quantify and test the effects of that flexibility on cooperative behavior. My fieldwork is with the Ifugao, who live in the Cordillera region of the Philippines’ largest island, Luzon. They are a community with deep indigenous history currently experiencing large-scale shifts in their social, cultural, and economic environments.


    Human behavioral ecology, moral psychology, religion, generosity and cooperation