May 9, 2022
Luke Matthews is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Much of his work focuses on using formal models for cultural diffusion on social networks to better understand how people influence each other. He has applied social network analysis, simulation models, and machine learning to mixed qualitative-quantitative data.
Matthews first studied cultural diffusion in the social networks of capuchin monkeys in the Ecuadorian Amazon. He subsequently studied diffusion dynamics in systems ranging from ancient human migrations to contemporaneous Christian groups before bringing his experience to the applied sector. His applied work has used both quantitative and qualitative data to examine how cultural transmission influences a variety of decisions including religious violence and management of patient referrals by physicians.
Matthews' research has been featured in New Scientist, Science News, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Prior to joining RAND, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, and worked in private industry for a startup social network analytics company. Matthews holds a doctorate in anthropology from New York University.
Luke J. Matthews, "Thinking outside the altruistic box: why we need other evolutionary theories to explain why religion is religious," Journal of Cognitive Historiography, 6(1), 2022
Matthews, L. J., A. M. Parker, M. Martineau, C. A. Gidengil, C. Chen, J. S. Ringel., Messaging Strategies for Mitigating COVID-19 Through Vaccination and Nonpharmaceutical Interventions, RAND (PE-A926-1), 2021
Nowak, S. A., C. Chen, A. M. Parker, C. A. Gidengil, and L. J. Matthews, "Comparing covariation among vaccine hesitancy and broader beliefs within Twitter and survey data," PLoS ONE, 2020
Gidengil, C., C. Chen, A. M. Parker, S. Nowak, and L. J. Matthews, "Beliefs around childhood vaccines in the United States: A systematic review," Vaccine, 2019
Luke J. Matthews, "The meta-lessons from COVID-19," The Pacific Council Magazine, 2020
Luke J. Matthews, "A moonshot for extraterrestrial communication," Anthropology News, 2019
Ruck, D. J., L. J. Matthews, T. Kyritsis, Q. D. Atkinson, and R. Alexander Bentley, "The cultural foundations of modern democracies," Nature Human Behaviour, 2019
Matthews, L. J., J. Edmonds, W. Wildman, and C. L. Nunn, "Cultural inheritance or cultural diffusion of religious violence? A quantitative case study of the Radical Reformation," Religion, Brain, & Behavior, 3, 2013