• Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department
  • Adjunct Curator of Anthropology, Natural History Museum of Utah


  • Lisa Johnson & Marianna Di Paolo and Adrian V. Bell (2018). Forced Alignment for Understudied Language Varieties: Testing Prosodylab-Aligner with Tongan Data. Language Documentation & Conservation. Vol. 12, 80-123. Published, 03/2018.
  • Adrian Viliami Bell (2018). The only way for minority cultural survival. Nature Human Behavior. Published, 02/2018.
  • Vicken Hillis & Adrian Bell, Jodi Brandt, and Jeremy S. Brooks (2018). Applying a cultural multilevel selection framework to the adoption of sustainable management practices in California viticulture. Sustainability Science. Vol. 13, 71-80. Published, 01/2018.
  • Karen Kramer & Ryan Schacht and Adrian Bell (2017). Adult Sex Ratios & Partner Scarcity among Hunter-Gatherers: Implications for Dispersal Patterns and the Evolution of Human Sociality. Philosophical Transactions B. Vol. 372. Published, 09/2017.
  • Bell, Adrian V. and Daniel Hernandez. 2017. “Cooperative Learning Groups and the Evolution of Human Adaptability: (Another Reason) Why Hermits are Rare in Tonga and Elsewhere.” Human Nature (2017) 28:1. Published, 03/2017.
  • Ryan Schacht and Adrian V. Bell. 2016. “The evolution of monogamy in response to partner scarcity.” Scientific Reports (6) 32472. Published, 09/2016.
  • Burnham, Terence C., Stephen E. G. Lea, Adrian Bell, Herbert Gintis, Paul W. Glimcher, Robert Kurzban, Leonhard Lades, Kevin McCabe, Karthik Panchanathan, Miriam Teschl, and Ulrich Witt. 2016. “Evolutionary Behavioral Economics.” in Complexity and Evolution: A New Synthesis for Economics, eds. D. S. Wilson and A. Kirman. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. Published, 02/2016.
  • Bell, Adrian V. 2015. “Linking Observed Learning Patterns to the Evolution of Cultural Complexity.” Current Anthropology. 56(2):277-281. Published, 04/2015.
  • Bell, Adrian V., Thomas Currie, Geoffrey Irwin, and Christopher Bradbury. 2015. “Driving Factors in the Colonization of Oceania: Developing Island-Level Models to Test Competing Hypotheses.” American Antiquity. 80(2):397-407. Published, 04/2015.
  • Bell, Adrian V. and Bruce Winterhalder. 2014. “The Population Ecology of Despotism: Concessions and Migration Between Central and Peripheral Habitats.” Human Nature 25(1): 121-135. Published, 01/2014.
  • Bell, Adrian V. 2014. “Cultural Evolution and the Way We Count.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111(4): 1227-1228. Published, 01/2014.
  • Bell, Adrian V., Katie Hinde, and Lesley Newson. 2013. Who was Helping? The Scope for Female Cooperative Breeding in Early Homo. PLoS ONE 8(12): e83667.
. Published, 12/2013.
  • Waring, Timothy, and Adrian V. Bell. 2013. Ethnic dominance damages cooperation more than ethnic diversity: results from multi-ethnic field experiments in India. Evolution & Human Behavior 34 (6), pp. 398-404. Published, 11/2013.
  • Bell, Adrian V. 2013. Evolutionary Thinking in Microeconomic Models: Prestige Bias and Market Bubbles. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59805. Published, 03/2013.
  • Bell, Adrian V. 2013. The Dynamics of Culture Lost and Conserved: Demic Migration As a Force in New Diaspora Communities. Evolution & Human Behavior 34, pp.23-38. Published, 01/2013.
  • Beheim, Bret, and Adrian V. Bell. 2011. “Inheritance and Ecology: Evolution of Canoe Traits in Eastern Oceania”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278: 3089-3095. Published, 02/23/2011.
  • Smith, E.A, Hill, K., Marlowe, F., Nolin, D. Wiessner, P, Gurven, M. Bowles, S., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Hertz, T., and Bell, A. 2010. “Wealth Transmission and Inequality Among Hunter-Gatherers.” Current Anthropology 51(1): 19-34. Published, 01/2010.
  • Gurven, M., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Hooper, P.L., Kaplan, H., Quinlan, R., Sear, R., Schniter, E., von Rueden, C., Bowles, S., Hertz, T., and A. Bell. 2010. Domestication alone does not lead to inequality: Intergenerational wealth transmission among horticulturalists. Current Anthropology 51(1): 49-64. Published, 01/2010.
  • Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Fazzio, I., Irons, W., McElreath, R., Bowles, S., Bell, A., Hertz, T and L. Hazzah. 2010. Pastoralism and Wealth Inequality: Revisiting an Old Question. Current Anthropology 51(1): 35-48. Published, 01/2010.
  • Shenk, M.K., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Beise, J., Clark, G., Irons, W., Leonetti, D., Low, B. S., Bowles, S., Hertz, T., Bell, A. and P. Piraino. 2010. “Intergenerational Wealth Transmission among Agriculturalists: Foundations of Agrarian Inequality.” Current Anthropology 51(1): 65-83. Published, 01/2010.
  • Lybbert, Travis, and Adrian Bell. 2010. “Why drought tolerance is not the new Bt.” Nature Biotechnology 28: 553-554. Published, 01/2010.
  • Bell, Adrian V. 2010. “Why Cultural and Genetic Group Selection are Unequal Partners in the Evolution of Human Behavior.” Communicative and Integrative Biology 3(2): 159-161. Published, 01/2010.
  • Lybbert, Travis, and Adrian V. Bell. 2010. “Stochastic Benefit Streams, Learning and Technology Diffusion: Why Drought Tolerance is not the new Bt.” AgBioForum 13(1): 13-24. Published, 01/2010.
  • Bell, Adrian V., Peter J. Richerson, and Richard McElreath. 2009. “Culture Rather than Genes Provides Greater Scope for the Evolution of Large-Scale Human Prosociality.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(42):17671-17674 . Published, 01/2009.
  • Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Samuel Bowles, Tom Hertz, Adrian Bell, et al.. 2009. “Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and the Dynamics of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies.” Science, 326 682-688. Published, 01/2009.
  • Bell, Adrian V., Russell B. Rader, Steven L. Peck, & Andrew Sih. 2009. “The positive effects of negative interactions: can avoidance of competitors or predators increase resource sampling by prey?” Theoretical Population Biology 76: 52-58. Published, 01/2009.
  • Bell, Adrian V, and Peter J. Richerson. 2008. Charles J. Lumsden and Edward O. Wilson, Genes, Mind, and Culture: 25th Anniversary Edition. Journal of Bioeconomics 10(3): 307. Published, 01/2008.
  • McElreath, R., Adrian Bell, C. Efferson, M. Lubell, P. Richerson, and T. Waring. 2008. “Beyond existence and aiming outside the laboratory: Estimating frequency-dependent and payoff-biased social learning strategies.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 3515-3528. Published, 01/2008.
  • Bell, Adrian V. & Mark Belk. 2004. “Diet of the leatherside chub, Snyderichthys copei, in the fall.” The Western North American Naturalist 64(3): 413-416. Published, 01/2004.

Research Statement

The spread of the human species is largely due to the development of complex culture early in our evolutionary history. Culture, like genes, is inherited, exhibits variation, and can be favored by natural selection and influenced by other evolutionary forces. Unlike genes the transmission of culture can come from many individuals and occurs magnitudes faster. To fully understand human evolution and behavior, culture alongside genes must be a part of the same formula. My mathematical modeling, ethnographic fieldwork, empirical studies, and experiments are motivated by cultural evolutionary theory to answer two major questions:

  1. Can evolutionary favored social learning strategies explain the cultural variation we see among today’s immigrant communities?
  2. Can we explain the degree of cultural complexity using demographic variables, such as group size and migration patterns?

Research Keywords

  • informal education
  • cultural evolution
  • Tonga
  • Migration
  • Learning Outcomes


  • The Cultural Process by Which We Adapt to Our Environment. September 2016. Boise State University. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 09/21/2016.
  • A. V. Bell. "Settlement of the Pacific: Testing Competing Theories Using an Island-Level Model." Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/2015.
  • Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium. April 2014. University of British Columbia. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/2014.
  • "Linking Learning Ability to the Evolution of Cultural Complexity." North West Evolution Ecology and Human Behavior Conference. Poster, Presented, 03/2014.
  • The Cause and Effect of Migration in the Old and New Pacific. Northwest Human Evolution Ecology and Human Behavior Symposium. Boise State University, 2013. Presentation, Presented, 03/2013.


  • Spanish, functional.
  • Tonga (Tonga Islands), functional.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Polynesia
  • Tonga
    and the Tongan diaspora communities around the world. Actively conducts anthropological research in Tonga and the Tongan diaspora in Utah.