Cosmides originally studied biology at Radcliffe College/Harvard University, receiving her A.B. in 1979. While an undergraduate she was influenced by the renowned evolutionary biologist Robert L. Trivers who was her advisor. In 1985, Cosmides received a Ph.D in cognitive psychology from Harvard and, after completing postdoctoral work under Roger Shepard at Stanford University, joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1991, becoming a full professor in 2000.
In 1992, together with John Tooby and Jerome Barkow, Cosmides edited The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. She and Tooby also co-founded and co-directs the Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
Cosmides was awarded the 1988 American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research, the 1993 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2005 National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award.
- Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J., (eds) (1992) The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (New York: Oxford University Press).
- Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2000) Evolutionary psychology: Foundational papers (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).
- Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (in press) Universal Minds: Explaining the new science of evolutionary psychology (Darwinism Today Series) (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
- Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (1981) Cytoplasmic inheritance and intragenomic conflict. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 89, 83-129.
- Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (1987) "From evolution to behavior: Evolutionary psychology as the missing link" in J. Dupre (ed.), The latest on the best: Essays on evolution and optimality (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).
- Cosmides, L. (1989) "The logic of social exchange: Has natural selection shaped how humans reason? Studies with the Wason selection task," Cognition, 31, 187-276.
- Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (1992) "Cognitive adaptations for social exchange," in Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J., (eds) (1992) The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (New York: Oxford University Press).
- Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (2003) "Evolutionary psychology: Theoretical Foundations," in Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (London: Macmillan).
- Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2005) "Evolutionary psychology: Conceptual foundations," in D. M. Buss (ed.), Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (New York: Wiley).
- Leda Cosmides's Website
- Center for Evolutionary Psychology
Articles and interviews
- "Whole in one" - profile by Kam Patel, Darwin@LSE. (Originally published in The Times Higher Education Supplement, 4 August 1995).
- Interview with Alvaro Fischer and Roberto Araya, published in El Mercurio, October 28, 2001.
- "Them" - article on Cosmides, Tooby and Kurzban's research into the origin of racism, The Economist, December 13, 2001.
- "Has Natural Selection Shaped How Humans Reason?" audio of a lecture at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, May 20, 1998 (with Tooby).
- "Coalitional Psychology and Social Categorization" audio or video of a lecture at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, October 29, 2003 (with Tooby).
- "Prospects for a transhuman mind?" radio program, All in the Mind, March 10, 2007. Contains a recording of her presentation to the "Challenge of Transhumanism" conference at Arizona State University.