Sam Passmore

Sam Passmore is a Research Fellow at the Australian National University, within the Evolution of Cultural Diversity Initiative (ECDI).

Sam is an interdisciplinary researcher who has worked in fields such as Anthropology, Psychology, Linguistics, and Economics. His research focuses on cultural macro-evolution and diversity using quantitative and statistical methods. Sam has used cultural macro-evolution to understand the movement and history of a variety of cultural phenomena such as: kinship, language, music, environmental behaviours, political and economic structure, and religion.

Sam completed his PhD at the University of Bristol (UK). His thesis explored the diversity and evolution of kinship terminology finding that existing typologies underestimate global diversity, and finding evidence against universal patterns of kinship terminology change. More recently, Sam has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck institute for the Science of Human History (Germany), studying global diversity in linguistic grammar, and at Keio University (Japan) examining signals of cultural history in traditional folk music.

Research area/theme
Peopling Sahul
Holocene Revolutions
Local Diversification
Island Melanesia after Lapita
Relevant publications


Wood, A., Kirby, K. R., Ember, C., Silbert, S., Passmore, S., Daikoku, H., … Savage, P. E. The Global Jukebox: A public database of performing arts and culture. (Pre-Print)

Journal Articles

Passmore, S., & Watts, J. (In Press). WEIRD People and The Western Church: Who made whom? Religion, Brain & Behavior.

Skirgard, H., Haynie, H., Blasi, D., Hammarstrom, H., Collins, J., Latarche, J., Lesage, J., Weber, T., Witzlack-Makarevich, A., Passmore, S., Chira, A., Maurits, L., Dinnage, R., Dunn, M., Reesink, G., Singer, R., Bowern, C., Epps, P., Hill, J., … Evans, N., Gray, R. 2023. Grambank reveals the importance of genealogical constraints on linguistic diversity and highlights the impact of language loss. Science Advances. 9(16).

Passmore, S., Barth, W., Quinn, K., Greenhill, S. J., Evans, N., & Jordan, F. M. (2021). Kin Against Kin: Internal Co-selection and the Coherence of Kinship Typologies. Biological Theory.

Passmore, S., & Jordan, F. M. (2020). No universals in the cultural evolution of kinship terminology. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 2.

Watts, J., Passmore, S., Jackson, J. C., Rzymski, C., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2020). Text analysis shows conceptual overlap as well as domain-specific differences in Christian and secular worldviews. Cognition, 201, 104290.

Roberts, S. G., Killin, A., Deb, A., Sheard, C., Greenhill, S. J., Sinnemäki, K., … [Passmore, S.] … Jordan, F. (2020). CHIELD: The causal hypotheses in evolutionary linguistics database. Journal of Language Evolution.

Rácz, P., Passmore, S., Sheard, C., & Jordan, F. M. (2019). Usage frequency and lexical class determine the evolution of kinship terms in Indo-European. Royal Society Open Science, 6(10), 191385.

Rácz, P., Passmore, S., & Jordan, F. M. (2019). Social Practice and Shared History, Not Social Scale, Structure Cross-Cultural Complexity in Kinship Systems. Topics in Cognitive Science, 12(2), 744–765.

Sookias, R. B., Passmore, S., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2018). Deep cultural ancestry and human development indicators across nation states. Royal Society Open Science, 5(4), 171411.

Atkinson, Q. D., Coomber, T., Passmore, S., Greenhill, S. J., & Kushnick, G. (2016). Cultural and Environmental Predictors of Pre-European Deforestation on Pacific Islands. PloS One, 11(5), e0156340.

Matthews, L. J., Passmore, S., Richard, P. M., Gray, R. D., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2016). Shared Cultural History as a Predictor of Political and Economic Changes among Nation States. PloS One, 11(4), e0152979.

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