Dr Sam Passmore

PhD Anthropology (University of Bristol); MSc Psychology (University of Auckland); BSc(Hons) Statistics (University of Auckland)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Anthropology 4401
  • Linguistic Anthropology 440105
  • Phylogeny And Comparative Analysis 310410


Sam Passmore is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in using quantitative methods and evolutionary explanations to understand human cultural diversity. Sam is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the School of Culture, History, and Language at the Australian National University, and the Evolution of Cultural Diversity Initiative. Sam’s work has taken a wide tour of human cultural domains such as: Kinship, musical, and linguistic diversity, as well as exploring cultural explanations for national success in economic and wellbeing outcomes. These threads are tied together through the application of phylogenetic comparative methods, estimating the importance of interdependence between societies, languages, or nations, when understanding cultural phenomena.

Sam began is research career at the University of Auckland, first understanding the benefits of different methods in hospital performance metrics within the Statistics department (2011-12), and subsequently moving to the Psychology department cultural origins of economic and wellbeing performance in Europe, under Professor Quentin Atkinson (2012-13). He then spent two years working at a Natural Language Processing software company, before moving to the University of Bristol to complete a PhD in Anthropology under Professor Fiona Jordan (2016-2021). Sam’s PhD focused on global diversity in kinship terminology, first exploring the universality of kinship typology’s link to behaviour, then building a new Kinship terminology database (Kinbank) to then present a new quantitative approach to kinship terminology diversity.

Sam’s current role at the Evolution of Cultural Diversity Initiative sees him focus on cultural diversity in Oceania, using an interdisciplinary approach.


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Updated:  08 February 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers