Department of Anthropology

Nicole Hess

Position: Visiting Professor

Biographical sketch

Trained as a biological anthropologist, Dr. Hess received a BA from UCLA in 1997, an MA from UCSB in 1999, and a PhD from UCSB in 2006. She completed a predoctoral fellowship with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development's LIFE program in 2005, as well as a postdoctoral fellowship with the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University in Berlin in 2007. Dr. Hess is currently a visiting assistant professor in the Anthropology Dept. at WSU Vancouver, and serves on the committees of Michelle Dillon, Courtney Helfrecht, and Meredith Schulte.


Dr. Hess studies coalitional competition in evolutionary perspective. She conducted her anthropological fieldwork in college Greek communities, and has conducted numerous experiments testing hypotheses derived from "Informational Warfare" theory, which proposes that coalitions may be useful in reputational competition (via, e.g., gossip) due to their improved abilities to collect, analyze, and disseminate relevant information. More broadly, she is interested in the evolution of cooperation in small groups.


Anth 101 General Anthropology
Anth 381 Primate Behavioral Ecology
Anth 395 Topics in Anthropology
Anth 468 Sex, Evolution, and Human Nature

Research projects

Selected publications

Articles and Chapters

PDF Hess NH, Helfrecht C, Hagen EH, Sell A and Hewlett BS 2010. Interpersonal aggression among Aka hunter-gatherers of the Central African Republic: Assessing the effects of sex, strength, and anger. Human Nature, 21, 330-354.
Hagen EH, Hammerstein P, and Hess NH 2009. Theoretical aspects of communication and language. In S. Nolfi and M. Mirolli, editors, Evolution of Communication and Language in Embodied and Situated Agents. Springer Verlag.
PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2006. Psychological adaptations for assessing gossip believability. Human Nature, 17, 337-354.
PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2006. Sex differences in indirect aggression: Psychological evidence from young adults. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 231-245.


PDF Helfrecht C, Hess NH, Hagen E, Sell A and Hewlett B 2009. Anger and aggression among Aka hunter-gatherers. The evolution of human aggression. Utah.


PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2009. Informational warfare: Coalitional gossiping as a strategy for within-group aggression.
PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2001. Review of Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts (J. Burnham and J. Phelan). Politics and the Life Sciences, 20, 244.
PDF Hagen EH and Hess NH 2000. Sweet savage love: FA, BO, and SES in the EEA. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 604-605.