Nicole Hess

  • Associate Professor, Career Track, Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Gossip and friendship studies in cross-cultural perspective
  • Email:

Biographical sketch ▾

Biographical sketch

Dr. Hess started out as a student at Santa Monica Community College, with broad interests in psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and biology. She earned her BA at UCLA in 1997, her MA at UCSB in 1999, and her PhD at UCSB in 2006. She completed predoctoral studies as a member of the first fellowhip cohort of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development's LIFE program, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University in Berlin. Dr. Hess is currently a Scholarly Associate Professor at WSU Vancouver. Dr. Hess's research involves using cross-cultural psychological studies to explore aspects of human sociality and cognition. She has also worked as an Academic Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences at WSU Vancouver for majors in: Neuroscience, Human Biology, Anthropology, Environmental Science, and the General Social Sciences, specializing in helping transfer students make the change to a 4 year university, as well as supporting undergraduate research opportunities.

Research statement ▾

Research statement

Dr. Hess studies gossip, friendship, cooperation, and coalitional competition. She conducted fieldwork in the Central African Republic and 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. Trained as a multidisciplinary social scientist, Dr. Hess uses diverse quantitative and qualitative methods to explore human sociality and cognition, including psychological experiments, surveys, interviews, and ethnographic work.

Projects ▾


Field sites ▾

Field sites

Courses ▾


Publications ▾


PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2023. The impact of gossip, reputation, and context on resource transfers among Aka hunter-gatherers, Ngandu horticulturalists, and MTurkers. Evolution and Human Behavior.
PDF Hess NH 2022. Friendship, Mating, and Reputation in U.S. College Sororities: Exploring Female Intrasexual Competition and Cooperation. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
LNK Ayers JD, Krems JA, Hess NH, Aktipis A 2022. Mother-in-Law Daughter-in-Law Conflict: an Evolutionary Perspective and Report of Empirical Data from the USA. Evolutionary Psychological Science.
PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2021. Competitive gossip: The impact of resource value, resource contestedness, and coalitions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
PDF Hess NH and Hagen EH 2019. Gossip, Reputation, and Friendship in Within-group Competition. In: Oxford Handbook of Gossip and Reputation. Oxford University Press.
PDF Hess NH 2019. From the Orinoco to sorority row: Searching for a field site as an evolutionary anthropologist. In The Secret Lives of Anthropologists: Lessons from the Field. Routledge.
PDF Hess NH 2017. Informational warfare: Coalitional gossiping as a strategy for within-group aggression. Oxford library of psychology. The Oxford handbook of women and competition.
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 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 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 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.