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Robert Boyd

Origins Professor and Research Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
IHO Research Affiliate and Origins Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
IHO Research Affiliate and Origins Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Biography

Prior to arriving at ASU, professor Robert Boyd taught at Duke University, Emory University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

He is considered a forerunner in the field of cultural evolution. Specifically, his research focuses on the evolutionary psychology of the mechanisms that give rise to – and influence – human culture, and how these mechanisms interact with population dynamic processes to shape human cultural variation.

This work is summarized in three books, two co-authored with P. J. Richerson: Culture and the Evolutionary Process, and Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. His new book, A Different Kind of Animal, will be available from Princeton University Press in November 2018. Boyd has also co-authored an introductory textbook in biological anthropology, How Humans Evolved, with his wife, ASU primatologist Joan Silk.  

He and Silk have two grown children and live in Phoenix. His hobbies are rock climbing and bicycling.

Education

PhD, Ecology, University of California, Davis

Research Interests

Unlike other organisms, humans acquire a rich body of information from others by teaching, imitation, and other forms of social learning, and this culturally transmitted information strongly influences human behavior. Culture is an essential part of the human adaptation, and as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion or thick enamel on our molars. My research is focused on the evolutionary psychology of the mechanisms that give rise to and shape human culture, and how these mechanisms interact with population dynamic processes to shape human cultural variation. I have done much of this work in collaboration with Peter J. Richerson.

Publications

Books

 

R. Boyd, in press, R. A Different Kind of Animal, Princeton University Press, publication date October, 2017
McElreath and R. Boyd, 2007. Mathematical Models of Social Evolution: A guide for the perplexed, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

P. J . Richerson and R. Boyd, 2005, Not by Genes Alone: How culture transformed human evolution, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. (Translated into Korean and Italian)

R. Boyd, and P. J. Richerson, 2005. The Origin and Evolution of Cultures, Oxford University Press, New York

J. Henrich, R. Boyd, S. Bowles, C. Camerer, E. Fehr, & H. Gintis. 2004. The Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies, Oxford University Press, New York

H. Gintis, S. Bowles, E. Fehr, & R. Boyd 2004. Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The foundations of cooperation in economic life, MIT Press Cambridge

R. Boyd and J. B. Silk, 1997, How Humans Evolved, W. W. Norton, Co. NY. (8th edition was published in September 2017)

Recent Papers

 

M. Derex and R. Boyd, Partial connectivity increases cultural accumulation within groups, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 113, 2982-2987, 2016.


R.H. Schonmann and R. Boyd, A simple rule for the evolution of contingent cooperation in large groups, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B), 317,  DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0099, 2016 


J. Henrich, M. Chudek and R. Boyd, The Big Man Mechanism: how prestige fosters cooperation and creates prosocial leaders, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B), DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0013, 2015. (

C. Moya and  R. Boyd, Different selection pressures give rise to distinct ethnic phenomena: A functionalist framework with illustrations from the Peruvian Altiplano. Human Nature, 26(1). doi:10.1007/s12110-015-9224-9, 2015. 


M. Derex and R. Boyd, The foundations of the human cultural niche, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms9398, 2015 


C. Moya, R. Boyd, and J. Henrich. Reasoning about cultural and genetic transmission: Developmental and cross-cultural evidence from Peru, Fiji, and the United States on how people make inferences about trait transmission, Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 1-16, 2015. 

R. Boyd and S. Mathew. Third-party monitoring and sanctions aid the evolution of language, Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 475-479, 2015.

R. Boyd, R. H. Schonmann and R. Vicente, Hunter–Gatherer population structure and the evolution of contingent cooperation, Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 219–227, 2014.

 

K. Hill, B. M. Wood, J. Baggio, A. M. Hurtado, R. Boyd, Hunter-Gatherer Inter-Band Interaction Rates: Implications for Cumulative Culture, PLoS One, 9, 1-9, 2014.


S. Mathew and R. Boyd, The cost of cowardice. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 58–64. 2014 

S. Mathew, R. Boyd, M. van Veelen. Human cooperation among kin and close associates may require enforcement of norms by third parties. In: Cultural Evolution, ed. P. J. Richerson and M. Christiansen, Strüngmann Forum Report 12,  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013   


R. Boyd, P. J. Richerson and J. Henrich, The cultural evolution of technology, facts and theories, Cultural Evolution, Society, Technology, Science and Religion, M. Christiansen and P.J. Richerson, eds., MIT Press, 119–142, 2013 


M. Kline, R. Boyd, and J. Henrich, Teaching and the life history of cultural transmission in Fijian villages, Human Nature, 24, 351–374, 2013.

C. Perreault, C. Moya, and R. Boyd. A Baysian approach to the evolution of social learning. Evolution and Human Behavior, Proofs posted online April 2012 .

J. Henrich, R. Boyd, and P. J. Richerson. The puzzle of monogamous marriage, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B), 367, 657–669, 2012 ; Supplementary material .

R. Boyd, P. J. Richerson, and J. Henrich. The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 108: 10918–10925, 2011 . 

Research Activity
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 494Special Topics
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 591Seminar
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 484Internship
ASM 484Internship
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASM 497Honors Colloquium
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 591Seminar
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASM 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASM 494Special Topics
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 591Seminar
ASM 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
Fall 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
Spring 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 591Seminar
Presentations

Culture Matters: How culture made humans outliers in the natural world.  Two Tanner Lectures at Princeton University, April 2016.

How humans became outliers in the natural world, Political Economy Workshop, NYU, February 2016

The evolution of human uniqueness, Invited lecture at Advanced International Seminar on Cognition and Culture in Evolutionary Context at Facultad de Psicología,  Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Sept 2015.

The first great divergence, Invited lecture, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Program on Institutions, Organizations and Growth, March 2015.

The puzzles of human cooperation, Invited lecture, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Feb 2015

Does reciprocity explain human cooperation? Invited lecture at NimBios, University of Tennessee, Nov 2014

Robert Boyd. Is causal understanding necessary for cultural adaptation?. Economic History Workshop, Department of Economics, Harvard (Nov 2015).

  • Robert Boyd. Does reciprocity explain human cooperation?. NimBios Lecture (Nov 2014).
  • Robert Boyd Sarah Mathew. Third-Party Punishment and the evolution of Human Language. Collective Intentionality IX (Sep 2014).
  • Robert Boyd Sarah Mathew. RECIPROCITY, THIRD-PARTY PUNISHMENT AND THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN LANGUAGE. EVOLANG X, Vienna (Apr 2014).
Honors / Awards

Lifetime Acheivement Award, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, June 2017

External Faculty, Santa Fe Institute

Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Cambridge

Invited fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Invited fellow at the Zentrum für interdiszciplinäre Forschung, University  of Bielefeld

John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship

 J. I. Staley Prize for Culture and the Evolutionary Process.

NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Chicago

Editorships

January 2008−Jan 2011: Editor, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B

Professional Associations

Cultural Evolution Society, Member of executive board

Service

Reviewer for many journals including PNAS, PRX, Nature, Science, Evolution and Human Behavior, Behavioural and Brain Sciences

Organizer, 2nd Annual Meeting of Cultural Evolution Society, Tempe Oct 22-24, 2018

Chair Evolutionary Anthropology Search Committee 2018

Evolutionary Social Science Lecture Series, Organizer (2014 - 2015)

Graduate Research and Travel Support, Member (2014 - 2015)

Evolutionary Anthropology Search Committee, Chair (2014 - 2015)

Graduate Faculties / Mentoring History

Minhua Yan (with Sarah Mathew) ASU 2016-present

Students at UCLA include Joe Henrich, Richard McElreath, Francisco Gil-White, Karthik Panchanathan, Sarah Mathew, Cristina Moya, Michelle Kline

Work History

August 2012−present, Origins Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Phoenix

June 2011June 2014 Cowan Professor, Santa Fe Institute

July 2009−July 2012, Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, University  of California, Los Angeles.

July 1989−July 2009,  Professor, Department of Anthropology, University  of California, Los Angeles.

July 1988−June 1989, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles.

July 1986−June 1988, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles.

September 1984−July 1986:  Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Emory      University.

September 1980−August 1984:  Assistant Professor, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Duke University (on leave 1981-1982).

 June 1981−June 1982:  National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biology, University of Chicago.

September 1978−August 1980:  Assistant Research Ecologist, Institute of Ecology, University of California, Davis.

September 1976− September 1978:  Special Consultant, California State Energy Commission

December 1975−August 1976: Senior Consultant, California Assembly Committee on       Resources, Land Use, and Energy.