Associate Professor
Lab: Behavioral Ecology and Economic Decisions Laboratory
259 Baldwin Hall





Ph.D. Anthropology, University of North Carolina 2001

Research Interests:
  • Anthropology + economy, ecology, evolution, environment
  • Economic anthropology, human behavioral ecology, cultural ecology
  • - Cognitive level:  Risk, time, value, covariation, causality, culture
  • - Household level:  Livelihoods, foraging, agriculture, markets, non-market exchange, poverty, inequality
  • Cognitive anthropology of risk and misfortune: ecological and cosmological cultural causal models
  • Quantitative & qualitative ethnography, behavioral observation, experimental methods
  • Madagascar, Africa (emerging focus on Haiti)

Research Projects

My research addresses human decision-making and behavior in an ecological and evolutionary context, with specific focus on subsistence in rural populations. My students and I are concerned with two stages of analysis. The first is how individuals make decisions, including processes of perception, evaluation, emotion, and social learning, as explored through experimental economic methods. The second stage is the behavioral outcomes of decisions, including food production and household livelihood strategies, as explored through ethnographic methods.

Of note:

President-Elect, Society for Economic Anthropology

Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Award, Behavioral and Social Sciences, 2010. University of Georgia

Selected Publications:

Tucker, B. (in press).  From risk and time preferences to cultural models of causality: On the challenges and possibilities of field experiments, with examples from rural southwestern Madagascar.  Nebraska Symposium on Motivation.

Tucker, B. and Nelson, D. (accepted).  What does economic anthropology have to contribute to studies of risk and resilience?  Economic Anthropology.

Tucker, B., Tsiazonera, Tombo, J., Hajasoa, P., & Nagnisaha, C. (2015).  Ecological and cosmological coexistence thinking in a hypervariable environment:  Causal models of economic success and failure among farmers, foragers, and fishermen of southwestern Madagascar.  Frontiers in Psychology, Cognitive Science 6:1-16.

Tucker, B., Lill, E., Tsiazonera, Tombo, J., Lahiniriko, R., Rasoanomenjanahary, L., Razafindavelo, P., & Tsikengo, J.-R.  (2015). Inequalities beyond the Gini: Subsistence, social structure, gender, and markets in southwestern Madagascar.  Economic Anthropology 2: 326-342.

Tucker, B.  (2014).  Rationality and the Green Revolution.  In Gibson, M. &  Lawson, D. Applied Evolutionary Anthropology: Darwinian Approaches to Contemporary World Issues (pp. 15-38)New York: Springer.

Tucker, B., Tombo, J., Tsiazonera, Hajasoa, P., Nagnisaha, C., Lahitoka, V. R., Zahatsy, C (2013).  Beyond mean and variance: Economic risk versus perceived risk of farming, foraging, and fishing activities in southwestern Madagascar.  Human Ecology 41(3): 393-407.

Tucker, B. (2012). Do risk and time experimental choices represent individual strategies for coping with poverty or conformity to social norms? Evidence from rural southwestern Madagascar. Current Anthropology 53:149-180.

Tucker, B., Huff, A., Tsiazonera, Tombo, J., Hajasoa, P., & Nagnisaha, C. (2011). When the wealthy are poor: Poverty explanations and local perspectives in southwestern Madagascar. American Anthropologist 113(2):291-305.

Tucker, B., Tsimitamby, Humber, F., Benbow, S. & Iida, T. (2010). Foraging for development: A comparison of food insecurity, production, and risk among farmers, forest foragers, and marine foragers in southwestern Madagascar. Human Organization 69(4):375-386.

Tucker, B. (2007). Perception of interannual covariation and diversification strategies for risk reduction among Mikea of Madagascar: Individual and social learning.  Human Nature 18(2): 162-180.

Tucker, B; (2007). Applying behavioral ecology and behavioral economics to conservation and development planning: Example from the Mikea Forest, Madagascar.  Human Nature 18(3): 190-208.

Tucker, B; & Rende Taylor, L. (2007).  The human behavioral ecology of contemporary world issues: Applications to public policy and international development.  Human Nature 18(3): 181-189.

Tucker, B. (2006).  A future-discounting explanation for the persistence of a mixed foraging/cultivation strategy among the Mikea of Madagascar. In Kennett, D. & Winterhalder, B. (eds). Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture (pp. 22-40). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kelly, R. L., Poyer, L., & Tucker, B. (2005). An ethnoarchaeological study of mobility, architectural investment, and food sharing among Madagascar's Mikea.  American Anthropologist 107(3):403-416.

Tucker, B. & Young, A. G. (2005). Growing up Mikea: Children's time allocation and tuber foraging in southwestern Madagascar. In B. Hewlett and M. Lamb (eds), Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods (pp. 147-171).  Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Tucker, B. (2004).  Giving, scrounging, hiding, and selling: Minimal food transfers among Mikea forager-farmers of Madagascar. Research in Economic Anthropology 23:43-66.

Tucker, B. (2003).  Mikea Origins: Relicts or Refugees?  Michigan Discussions in Anthropology 14:193-215.

Yount, J. W., Tsiazonera, & Tucker, B. (2001).  Constructing Mikea identity: Past and present links to forest and foraging. Ethnohistory 48:257-291.

Winterhalder, B., Lu, F., & Tucker, B. (1999). Risk-sensitive adaptive tactics: Models and evidence from subsistence studies in biology and anthropology. Journal of Archaeological Research 7:301-348.

Curriculum Vitae: