Methods without meaning: Moving beyond body counts in research on behavior and health

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Biological anthropology is an intentionally integrative discipline incorporating methods from various fields. As such, data collection techniques ranging from morphometric analyses of hominin fossils to assessments of human cardiac output via fitness trackers are being added to the methodological catalog. This reflects a trend toward an increased reliance on quantifiable data. These data enable researchers to identify ever more finite differences in individual physiologies, and to discover the threads that connect this variability to our evolutionary past. Thus, it is attractive in its appeal to seemingly more objective scientific approaches to our most enduring areas of inquiry. However, it also signals movement in the field away from a reliance on and confidence in qualitative and descriptive methods, and our unwillingness to ask experiential questions differently in evolutionary anthropological research than our peers in other biological sciences. Thus, these methodological innovations both enhance our findings and limit the plurality of the data that is valued in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEvaluating Evidence in Biological Anthropology
Subtitle of host publicationThe Strange and the Familiar
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781108569125
ISBN (Print)9781108476843
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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