Robert Boyd



  • Advisor
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth


  • Arizona State University
School of Human Evolution and Social Change


  • United States


PhD (Ecology), University of California, Davis


Robert Boyd is an evolutionary anthropologist whose research is focused on the evolutionary psychology of the mechanisms that give rise to human culture, and shape it; and on how these mechanisms interact with population dynamic processes to shape human cultural variation. He uses a combination of mathematical modelling, laboratory experiments and ethnographic fieldwork to address these questions.


Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Cambridge, 2005–2006

Invited fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, 2001–2002

J. I. Staley Prize for Culture and the Evolutionary Process, 1989

John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988–1989

Relevant Publications

Derex, M., and R. Boyd. "The foundations of the human cultural niche." Nat. Commun. 6 (2015): 8398.

Boyd, R. et al. "The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108 (2011): 10918–10925.

Mathew, S., and R. Boyd. "Punishment sustains large-scale cooperation in prestate warfare." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108 (2011): 11375–11380.

Perrault, C. et al. "A Bayesian Approach to the Evolution of Social Learning." Evol. Hum. Behav. 33 (December 2011): 449–59.

Kline, M., and R. Boyd. "Population size predicts technological complexity in Oceania." Proc. R. Soc. B 277 (2010): 2559–2564.

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

Henrich, J. et al. The Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Boyd, R., and P.J. Richerson. Culture and the Evolutionary Process, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.