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Rural Colombia

all pictures: © Cody Ross


Principal investigator: 

  • Cody T. Ross 

Team members:

  • Arlenis Hurtado and Danier Hurtado (data collection),
  • Karl Frost (documentary film) 


Site Details

The study involves near complete censuses (defined over fixed geographic areas) of six field sites: a predominantly Afrocolombian coastal fishing community, a predominately Emberá coastal horticultural community, a more market integrated inland Afrocolombian community, an inland horticultural Emberá community, a rural Mestizo community located near the other inland sites, and second rural Mestizo community near Colombia’s capital city. In the Afrocolombian and Emberá field sites, large proportions of the population have been impacted and displaced by internal conflicts in Colombia at some point in their lives. 


We are studying longitudinal changes in wealth, wealth inequality, social network structure, pro-social norms, and behaviour in experimental games. The project will also study the effects of these measures and others—such as exposure to violent displacement—on outcomes like child growth and development and psychological well-being. Data collected in the first longitude waves include: 273 household wealth surveys, 539 adult network and socio-demographic interviews, and growth and education data from 1063 people. Further waves of data collection have since expanded the data set to include more individuals, and track longitudinal changes in wealth, health, and social network measures among individuals in the initial sample. 

Individual-level data include: full kinship networks; reproductive and marriage histories; parent, child, and sibling survival and mortality records; religion and religiosity surveys; physical and psychological health surveys; education and language surveys, coupled with vocal recording of speaking and reading; five social network instruments; and, a survey of beliefs on contentious social and political issues. Additional data on wealth, household income, and material possessions were collected at the household level. Finally, RICH economic game data provide experimental measures of pro-sociality and animus.

Selected Publications

Koster, J., McElreath, R., Hill, K., Yu, D., Shepard Jr, G., Van Vliet, N., Gurven, M., Trumble, B., Bird, R. B., Bird, D., & others. (2020). The Life History of Human Foraging: Cross-Cultural and Individual Variation. Science advances, 6(26), eaax9070.

Pisor, A. C., Gervais, M. M., Purzycki, B. G., & Ross, C. T. (2020). Preferences and Constraints: The Value of Economic Games for Studying Human Behaviour. Royal Society Open Science, 7, 192090.

Ross, C. T., Jaeggi, A. V., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Smith, J. E., Smith, E. A., Gavrilets, S., & Hooper, P. L. (2020). The Multinomial Index: A Robust Measure of Reproductive Skew. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2020, 287, 20202025.

Redhead, D., McElreath, R., & Ross, C. T. (2023). Reliable Network Inference from Unreliable Data: A Tutorial on Latent Network Modeling Using STRAND. Psychological Methods.

Ross, C. T., McElreath, R., & Redhead, D. (2022). Modelling Human and Non-Human Animal Network Data in r Using Strand. bioRxiv 2022, 2022-05.

Redhead, D., Ross, C. T., & Dalla Ragione, A. (2022). Friendship and Partner Choice in Rural Colombia. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Minocher, R., & Ross, C. T. (2022). Spousal Age-Gaps, Partner Preferences, and Conse-quences for Well-Being in Four Colombian Communities. Evolution and Human Behavior, 43(5), 394-407.

Pisor, A., Gervais, M., Purzycki, B., and Ross, C.T.. (2019). Preferences and constraints: The value of economic games for studying human sociality. In review (RSOS).

Borgerhoff Mulder, M., and Ross, C.T.. (2019). Unpacking Mating Success and Testing Bateman’s Principles in a Human Population. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 286 (1908), 20191516.

Koster, J., Lukas, D., Nolin, D., Power, E., Alvergne, A., Mace, R., Ross, C.T., Kramer, K., Greaves, R., Caudell, M., Macfarlan, S., Schniter, E., Quinlan, R., Mattison, S., Reynolds, A., Yi-Sum, C., Massengill, E. (2019). Kinship Ties Across the Lifespan in Human Communities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 374 (1780), 20180069.

Ross, C.T., and Winterhalder, B. (2018). Evidence for encounter-conditional, area-restricted search in a preliminary study of Colombian blowgun hunters. PLOS One 13(12): e0207633.

Ross, C.T., Pachecho-Cobos, L., and Winterhalder, B. (2018). A general model of forager search: Adaptive encounter-conditional heuristics outperform Lévy flights in the search for patchily distributed prey. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 455, 357-369.

Ross, C.T., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Oh, S.Y., Bowles, S., Beheim, B., Bunce, J., Caudell, M., Clark, G., Colleran, H., Cortez, C., Draper, P., Greaves, R.D., Gurven, M., Headland, T., Headland, J., Hill, K., Hewlett, B., Kaplan, H.S., Koster, J., Kramer, K., Marlowe, F., McElreath, R., Nolin, D., Quinlan, M., Quinlan, R., Revilla-Minaya, C., Scelza, B., Schacht, R., Shenk, M., Uehara, R., Voland, E., Willführ, K., Winterhalder, B., and Ziker, J. (2018). Greater wealth inequality, less polygyny: Rethinking the polygyny threshold model. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface. 15 (144), 20180035.

Ross, C.T., Winterhalder, B., and McElreath, R. (2018). Resolution of apparent para-doxes in the race-specific frequency of use-of-force by police. Palgrave Communications 4(1), 61.