The central theme in my past and current research is human sociality and cooperation. Under the umbrella of human behavioral ecology, my work on the "puzzle of cooperation" has been interdisciplinary, including perspectives from psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, sociology, and my primary area of training, anthropology. My research has specifically examined the ecological conditions that favor the emergence and stability of cooperative resource acquisition in an effort to understand variation in cooperative production across societies. My current work explores the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation. Other research interests include optimal foraging theory, costly signaling, and the evolution of religion and morality. My primary fieldwork has been conducted on Ifaluk Atoll of the Federated States of Micronesia and Israeli communes known as kibbutzim. I have also pursued ethnohistorical research on 19th century utopian communal societies and conducted economic experiments with various non-student populations in Israel and the United States
I am co-founder and co-editor, with Patrick McNamara and Wesley Wildman, of the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, an interdisciplinary journal aimed at uniting multiple disciplinary perspectives that share a common interest in the evolutionary, cognitive, and neurological study of religion.
The Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut consists of three interacting programs: Cultural and Historical Anthropology, Old World Prehistoric Archaeology, and Evolution, Cognition, and Culture. I currently serve as Director of the Evolution, Cognition, and Culture Program. ECC faculty and students share an interest in human culture and cognition and a belief that evolutionary theory is a powerful tool to help both pose and answer questions about what it is to be human.