I took my PhD at Cambridge University under the supervision of Kevin Lala (2000-2005), and then moved to join his research group at St Andrews University as a post-doctoral researcher (2006-2012). I then took up a position as a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Anglia Ruskin University (2012-2015) then became a Lecturer in Zoology at Leeds University (2015-2018). From 2018-2024 I worked successfully as a freelance statistical consultant, working remotely with academics to conduct advanced statistical analyses. In April 2024 I resumed my career in academia proper as a Lecturer in Zoology at the University of Cumbria.

Qualifications and memberships

PG Cert Learning and Teaching (Higher Education), Anglia Ruskin University 2013-2014

BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics, Open University 2006-2011 First Class Honours (awarded 2011)

Graduate Diploma, Royal Statistical Society 2009-2010 Distinction (awarded 2010)

PhD in Zoology, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University 2000-2004 (awarded 2005)

Thesis title: Social Processes Influencing Learning: Combining Theoretical and Empirical Approaches; Supervisor: Kevin Lala

MSc Integrative Biosciences, Linacre College, Oxford University 1999-2000 Distinction (awarded 2000)

BA (Hons) Biological Sciences, Pembroke College, Oxford University 1996-1999 First Class Honours (awarded 1999)


Academic and research interests

I primarily work in the fields of Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology. My main research interest hitherto has been in social learning in animals (learning from others). I have published numerous papers on social learning and am first author on a monograph on the subject entitled “Social Learning: Mechanisms, Methods and Models”, published by Princeton University Press.

In particular, I have been a key player in the development of Network Based Diffusion Analysis (NBDA) which has been widely adopted in the field of social learning and has been successfully applied to a range of primates, cetaceans, birds, fish and insects in both captive and wild populations.




Hoppitt, W. & K. Laland. (2013) Social Learning: An Introduction to Mechanisms, Methods and Models. Princeton: Princeton University Press.



GitHub profile at:

Hoppitt, W., Photopoulou, T., M. Hasenjager & E. Leadbeater (2019) NBDA: a package for implementing network-based diffusion analysis. R package


Peer reviewed papers:

For a complete list see my Google Scholar profile at:


Selected recent publications are listed below:

Hasenjager, M. J., Hoppitt, W., Cunningham-Eurich, I., Franks, V. R., & Leadbeater, E. (2024). Coupled information networks drive honeybee (Apis mellifera) collective foraging. Journal of Animal Ecology, 93, 71–82.

van Leeuwen, E.J.C. & Hoppitt, W. (2023) Biased cultural transmission of a social custom in chimpanzees. Science Advances, 9 (7) eade5675

Easter, C., Rowlands, A., Hassall, C. & W. Hoppitt (2022) Aggression‐based social learning in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Ethology 128 (3): 232-246

Hasenjager, M.J., Hoppitt, W. & Leadbeater, E. (2022) Do honey bees modulate dance following according to foraging distance? Animal Behaviour 184: 89-97

Hämäläinen, L., Hoppitt, W., Rowland, H.M., Mappes, J., Fulford, A.J., Sosa, S. & Thorogood, R. (2021) Social transmission in the wild can reduce predation pressure on novel prey signals. Nature Communications 12 (1) 3978

Hasenjager, M.J., Leadbeater, E., & Hoppitt W. (2021) Detecting and quantifying social transmission using network‐based diffusion analysis. Journal of Animal Ecology 90 (1), 8-26 

van Leeuwen, E.J.C., Staes, N. Verspeek, J. Hoppitt, W.J.E. & Stevens J.M.G. (2020) Social culture in bonobos. Current Biology 30 (6) R261-262 

Hasenjager, M.J., Leadbeater, E., & Hoppitt W. (2020) Network-based diffusion analysis reveals context-specific dominance of dance communication in foraging honeybees. Nature Communications 11 (1) 625 

Canteloup, C. Hoppitt, W. & van de Waal, E. (2020) Wild primates copy higher-ranked individuals in a social transmission experiment. Nature Communications 11 (1) 459

Troisi, C.A., Hoppitt, W.J.E., Ruiz-Miranda, C.R. & Laland, K.N. (2020) The role of food transfers in wild golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia): support for the informational and nutritional hypothesis. Primates 62 (1), 207-221

Wild, S., Hoppitt W.J.E., Allen S.J. & Krützen M. (2020) Integrating genetic, environmental, and social networks to reveal transmission pathways of a dolphin foraging innovation Current Biology 30 (15): 3024-3030.