1996         Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara.
1991         M.A.   Cultural Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara.
1985-86    Grad. Program, Psychology, U. of Illinois Urbana/Champaign.
1985         B.A.  Psychology, UC Santa Barbara.
1980-85    Undergraduate Education, San Diego State University.

Areas of Interest

I am interested in the evolution of human psychology and life history, and their impact on human behavior, health, and culture, broadly construed.

Evolutionary psychology: Psychological adaptations for cooperation, exchange, social niche creation, attractiveness assessment, parental and alloparental investment, and health risk buffering.

Human behavioral ecology/Human biology:
Evolution of life history traits and tradeoffs, and the effects of ecological and inter-personal variation on life history and health outcomes.

Cultural Anthropology: Effects of market integration on Shuar economy, social relations, and health; Evoked culture; use and function of art and narrative, and the cognitive mechanisms that underlie them.

Research Approach and Background

My work lies at the intesection of cultural and biological anthropology, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology. I address questions about the evolution of the information processing functions of the human mind and their effects upon behavior, health, and culture. This work involves: (1) gaining insights into critical human adaptive problems by working with people living in small-scale, natural fertility, forager-horticultural groups; (2) working out hypotheses about how our psychology evolved to solve these problems; (3) testing hypotheses about specific aspects of our evolved psychology via cross-cultural psychological experiments, direct behavioral observation, interview techniques and physiological measures, and; (4) documenting how these psychological adaptations or their byproducts lead to both similar and different behaviors and cultural phenomena in response to differing local conditions.

Since 1993, I have conducted fieldwork among Shiwiar, Achuar, Shuar and Zaparo forager-horticulturalist groups of Ecuadorian Amazonia. Previously I worked with the Yora of Peru and the Yanomamö of Venezuela. I am founder Shuar Health and Life History Project which I now Co-Direct with Josh Snodgrass, and an Co-Director (with Clark Barrett) of Field Research for the Human Universals Project at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I am Co-PI on the NSF funded Spatial Cognition and Navigation (SCAN) project, designed to test hypotheses for sex differences in spatial abilities by testing these across a sample of small scale societies. I also collaborate with Michelle Scalise Sugiyama on the Cognitive Cultural Studies Project.

My work on cooperation, social exchange, apparent altruism, health risk, life history, and evolution of attractiveness assessment have appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Evolution and Human Behavior, Human NatureAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Journal of Human Biology, Research in Economic Anthropology and the Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. For more on my research findings, click on the Research links above, or the Center for Evolutionary Psychology, and Institute for Cognitive and Decision Sciences links.

Current Research Projects

My current research includes four collaborative projects: 1) The Shuar Health and Life History Project; 2) The Human Universals Project; 3) The Evolution of Human Attractiveness Project, and; 4) the Cognitive Cultural Studies Project and 5) The Spatial Cognition and Navigation (SCAN) Project.

Prospective graduate students interested in field research who have strong quantitative skills and a background in behavioral ecology/ecological anthropology, bio-anthropology, evolutionary psychology, or biology are encouraged to contact me directly.