Paul Hooper's research seeks to understand and explain human social structure. On the one hand, this means understanding the evolutionary origins of those features of human sociality that stand out among primates and other mammals, such as long-term marriage, extensive parental and grandparental support, and high levels of cooperation between both related and unrelated individuals. On the other hand, it also means understanding variation in social structure across human societies, from mobile hunter-gatherers to complex urban civilizations. His research asks, to what extent can major patterns of variation in societal organization across history be explained by a finite set of basic principles of biology and economics?
To accomplish these goals, Paul combines ethnographic fieldwork in Amazonia and Central Asia with cross-cultural analysis and mathematical modeling. His work examines the biological and economic processes underlying the formation of human social networks, as well as the emergence of social inequality, political hierarchy, and leadership.
Paul holds a PhD in evolutionary anthropology from the University of New Mexico, and earned his AB in near eastern studies from Princeton University.