Sonja Vogt


Sonja Vogt is Professor of Sustainable Social Development at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Bern. She is also affiliated with Nuffield College, University of Oxford, the Center for Child Well-Being and Development at the University of Zurich, and the Center for Development and Environment at the University of Bern. In addition, she is Principal Investigator of the Policy and Cultural Evolution Lab that focuses on social learning and cultural development – both from a research and policy perspective. Her research has a strong interdisciplinary orientation and uses a range of methodological approaches to study the social and psychological mechanisms required for sustainable behavioural change. At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Vogt will collaborate with the programme “The Foundations of Value and Values”.


  • Efferson, C., Vogt, S., and Fehr, E. “The promise and the peril of using social influence to reverse harmful traditions.” Nature Human Behaviour 4, 55–68 (shared first-authorship) (2020).
  • Efferson, C. and Vogt, S.  “Behavioural homogenization with spillovers in a normative domain.”  Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  285, 20180492 (2018).
  • Vogt, S., Mohmmed Zaid, N., El Fadil Ahmed, H., Fehr, E., and Efferson, C.  “Changing cultural attitudes towards female genital cutting.” Nature 538, 506–509 (2016).
  • Efferson,C., Vogt, S., Elhadi, A., El Fadil Ahmed, H., and Fehr, E. “Female genital cutting is not a social coordination norm.” Science, 349, 1446-1447 (shared first-authorship) (2015).



What gives you hope?
Many people, though not all, are prepared to be prosocial under appropriate circumstances.

How does change happen?
Increase the number of people prepared to be prosocial and increase the rate at which they find themselves in appropriate circumstances.

What inspires you?
Rigorous empiricism in the service of understanding important social problems.


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