Donate to the Primals Project

The Primals Project at the University of Pennsylvania is the world’s foremost group studying the developmental origins and psychological implications of primal world beliefs. You can directly support our scientific research by donating to our project. Any amount—even $5—makes a difference!

Click below to make a tax-deductible online donation—it takes two minutes. You’ll go to an official Penn donation page. All donations made via this link support our work specifically. Feel free to ignore the “gift options” menu.

The problem is enormous untapped potential.

It’s kind of crazy: researchers suspect primals could powerfully impact many outcomes humans care about, yet primals’ impact on most of these outcomes has received virtually no research attention. Depression, suicide, school engagement, character strengths, workplace success, terrorism, political polarization—all are areas where primals’ impact remains virtually unstudied. The identification of primals was so recent (only one primal was extensively studied prior to 2019) that, despite a flurry of research in the last few years, most important conversations haven’t even started. We need to start those conversations to enable new interventions and a better world where more people thrive.

The solution is to jumpstart each conversation with empirical discovery.

To jumpstart primals inquiry in each research space, we need at least one good empirical discovery communicated in an academic journal (e.g., a paper on primals and health, a paper on primals and suicide, etc.). That’s exactly what the Penn Primals Project is trying to do. But we have limited resources.

The solution requires resources.

Right now we are pursuing only a fraction of the hundreds of exciting projects screaming for our attention. For instance, 10,000 Swedish twins recently took the primals survey and we have access to their entire medical histories, but nobody on our team has time to analyze the data to discover how primals relate to health. Dozens of other incredible opportunities are slipping through our fingers.

Your gift will directly support our research, so we can run more studies and make important discoveries.

  • Just $5 more in donations likely means one more participant in a study, helping to ensure discoveries are valid.
  • $1,000 more in donations often means getting to run an additional study.
  • $10,000 more in donations often means making an entirely new discovery, running several studies to make sure findings are valid, and publishing a whole empirical journal article.
  • $100,000 more in donations likely means the ability to hire a researcher with expertise in an entirely new area (e.g., suicide research), allowing us to jumpstart a conversation and engage experts in that space.
  • A few million more in donations—now we’re talking endowments—means a legacy that ensures discovery for years to come.

Our hope is to receive enough donations to expand our staff and take on new research topics. Some topics we’d love to tackle soon include:

  • Interventions and clinical applications: How can primals be operationalized in clinical or coaching contexts? Might therapies that address primals support depression treatment and suicide prevention? What about healthy relationships and couples counseling? We have just begun designing and testing interventions to increase wellbeing, but have barely scratched the surface.
  • Kids: How does K-12 education impact primals? Are we educating kids to see the world as bad? How do primals form in young children? How do we foster useful primals in children?
  • Politics: How can the primals framework help address political polarization by fostering dialogue between groups who see the world differently? How might primals inform messaging, including political messaging?
  • Terrorism: Violent extremism is already tied to low Meaningful world belief. Can we create interventions that increase that primal?
  • Future: As society’s average primals have changed across history, how has that impacted the course of history? How might we use that information to gain insight into our collective future?
  • Robots: Can we give primal world beliefs to robots to simulate dozens of human personality traits in ways that facilitate human-robot interaction?

Note: If interested in donating over $25,000, please reach out to Primals Project Manager, Rive Cadwallader ( With so many projects of interest to us, there’s a good chance that with a large donation we could aggressively pursue the specific topic that you are most passionate about.

Whatever the amount, please consider supporting our work!