The relationship between self and the group with regard to Trait Trustworthiness; Cooperation/Coordination; Aggression; Leadership/Followership; Psychology of Trust; Face Perception; Social Attributions and Identity.
I am interested in how observable individual differences such as in facial features or body size relate to variation in unobservable traits such as trustworthiness, moral decision making as well as negotiation and leadership from small groups to a national level.
Differential male formidability and variation in trust and trustworthiness:
- Variation between men in facial width (facial width-to-height ratio) is related to both perceptions of their trustworthiness as well as their decisions whether to collaborate for mutual financial gain or to exploit others for greater personal gain (Psychological Science, 2010).
- A growing literature is suggesting that variation in male facial width relates to various forms of anti-social behaviour such as aggression, deception, and exploitation of trust. I found evidence consistent with this that wider faced males were less cooperative within a group, but in contrast when informed of the presence of group competition, the same individual differences in male facial width also relate to increased pro-social behaviour, perhaps leadership (Psychological Science, 2012). This contingent inter- and intragroup male behavior is crucial in interpreting the relationships between variation in appearance and variation in behaviour.
- These contingently opposing individual differences in behaviour are likely to be explained, in part, by male formidability; In a forensic database of skeletal remains I have also found that physical individual differences mattered with regard to cause of death. Narrower faced men were more likely than wider faced men to die as a result of contact violence (Evolution and Human Behavior, 2012).
Variation in observable facial features relate to individual differences in sexual health and attitudes to reproduction:
- Individual differences in female facial features hold detectable cues to variation in underlying reproductive health and reproductive desire. We found a significant positive correlation between measured oestrogen and variation between young (childless) women in their reported ideal number of children; Their reported ideal number of children also related to facial femininity (Hormones and Behaviour, 2012).
- Variation in female facial attractiveness, femininity, and health also varies in line with underlying level of oestrogen (Proc. Roy. Soc., 2006).
- Differences in speed of sexual maturation (e.g. age at first sex) relate to differences in attraction to facial sexual dimorphism; Individuals who report a younger age of first sex have increased preference for sexual dimorphism in faces (Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2006).
Sex differences in disposition toward sharing in a dating context:
- There are similarities and differences in male and female preferences for sharing in a dating context. While self-rated attractiveness influences sharing preferences in the same way for men and women; people who think they are attractive would rather split the bill than pay for both meals, differing effects result from the attractiveness of others on desire for generosity in a dating context. Men would rather pay for the food with attractive women, and women would prefer that the attractive man would pay (Evolutionary Psychology, 2011).
I studied for my first degree at Edinburgh University in Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence. After a brief foray in Brighton for the Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems course at Sussex University, I returned to Scotland to work with Prof. David Perrett. In this role I serviced various Unilever contracts using computational techniques in the study of skin health, ageing, and face perception; I also became very involved in various public engagement projects, and latterly I enrolled as a student with Prof. Perrett and gained a PhD focused upon the Psychology of Trust (Sexual Selection and Trust Games, 2009).
I am currently employed as a Lecturer in Psychology at York St John University, York.