Zachary H. Garfield

  • PhD, Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Cultural transitions, leadership and followership, social organization, social learning, decision-making cognition
  • Graduated: 2019
  • Advisor: Edward H. Hagen
  • Curriculum vitae: PDF

Biographical sketch ▾

Biographical sketch

I received a B.A. with highest distinction in anthropology and psychology from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2012 and completed my Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology at WSU in 2019. After graduating from WSU I was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse.

Currently, I am an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science at Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique in the Africa Institute for Research in Economics and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Governance, Economics and Social Sciences. I also co-direct The Omo Valley Research Project.

Personal webpage
Google Scholar profile

Research statement ▾

Research statement

My research program focuses on uncovering interactions between individual behavioral strategies and group dynamics in the context of cultural transitions. In particular, I investigate how behaviors such as leadership and followership, decision-making, and economic strategies are related to group-level pressures such as network dynamics and alliance patterns, sociopolitical structures, group context, and cultural norms. I am especially interested in how relationships between these individual-level and group-level forces vary across populations and over time. I draw on adaptationist, behavioral-ecological, and cultural-evolutionary theoretical frameworks.

A broader focus my research program includes understanding how remote, minority ethnic populations with limited market integration navigate increasing pressures from state-level influences and maintain or adapt long-standing and more traditional components of their social, cultural, and economic livelihoods. The ultimate goal of my research program is to develop more robust, generalizable theories of human behavior, social organization, and cultural change which are supported and tested through solid empirical foundations.

I conduct fieldwork in Southwest Ethiopia. I have worked with the Chabu forager-horticulturalists in the Sheka forests investigating traditional and contemporary systems of leadership among women and men in this relatively egalitarian society.

Zach conducting interviews with Chabu men

Currently, my field research is focused on developing the Omo Valley Research Project (OVRP), which I co-direct with colleague Luke Glowacki. The OVRP is a new research enterprise aimed at building a large-scale, longitudinal data set from multiple distinct ethnolinguistic groups in Southwest Ethiopia. The OVRP focuses on cultural and ecological variation in mechanisms of cultural change and aims to better understand diversity in social organization and behavior.

Video and photography from the field:

The Chabu forager-horticulturalists video playlist

Original photography: The Chabu of Southwest Ethiopia

Projects ▾


Field sites ▾

Field sites

Funding ▾


Date Title Funding source Collaborators Amount
2020 Testing Evolutionary Alternative Models of Third-Party Punishment: A Multidisciplinary Approach The Institute for Advanced Studies in Toulouse. Francesca De Petrillo, Alberto Micheletti, Catherine Molho $32156
2018 Testing evolutionary theories of leadership in a population of transitional foragers National Science Foundation. 1823324 $23220
2015 Prestige, dominance, and leadership among the Chabu hunter-gatherers of Ethiopia doi: 10.18258/3735 $919
2014 Prestige, dominance, and leadership among the Chabu hunter-gatherers of Ethiopia WSU Vancouver College of Arts and Sciences. $3000
Total: $59295

Publications ▾


PDF Gopalan S, Berl RBW, Myrick JW, Garfield ZH, Reynolds AW, Bafens BK, Belbin G, Mastoras, Williams C,Daya M,Negash AN, Feldman MW, Hewlett BS,* and Henn BM 2022. Hunter-gatherer genomes reveal diverse demographic trajectories during the rise of farming in Eastern Africa. Current Biology, 32, 1-9.
PDF Garfield ZH and Hagen EH 2020. Investigating evolutionary models of leadership among recently settled Ethiopian hunter-gatherers. The Leadership Quarterly, 31, 101290.
PDF Garfield ZH, Syme KL, Hagen EH 2020. Universal and variable leadership dimensions across human societies. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41, 397–414.
PDF Garfield ZH, Von Rueden CR, Hagen EH 2019. The evolutionary anthropology of political leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 30, 59-80.
PDF Garfield ZH, Hubbard R, Hagen EH 2019. Evolutionary models of leadership: tests and synthesis. Human Nature, 30, 23–58.
LNK Garfield ZH 2017. Dominant Acts Expressed (Buss, 1981). Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1-6.
LNK Hames RH, Garfield ZG, Garfield MJ 2017. Is Male Androphilia a Context-Dependent Cross-CulturalUniversal? Archives of Sexual Behavior.
LNK Garfield ZH 2017. Men’s Egoistic Dominant Acts. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1-3.
LNK Garfield ZH, Garfield MJ 2017. Women’s Prosocial Dominant Acts. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1-4.
PDF Garfield ZH, Garfield MJ, Hewlett BS 2016. A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Hunter-Gatherer Social Learning, In: Social Learning and Innovation in Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers, Hideaki Terashima and Barry Hewlett (ed.). Springer, 16-34.
PDF Syme KL, Garfield ZH, Hagen EH 2015. Testing the bargaining vs. inclusive fitness models of suicidal behavior against the ethnographic record. Evolution and Human Behavior.
LNK VanderLaan DP, Garfield ZH, Garfield MJ, Leca JP, Vasey PL, Hames RH 2014. The “female fertility–social stratification–hypergyny” hypothesis of male homosexual preference: factual, conceptual and methodological errors in Barthes et al. [Commentary]. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 445-447.