I'm a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. Before taking up my current position, I was a Senior Lecturer at Swansea University, and before that I spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University in Canada, working in the lab of Martin Daly and Margo Wilson. I did my Ph.D. in psychology and philosophy at Massey University in New Zealand. My second book, The Ape That Understood the Universe, hit the shelves in September 2018, and an audiobook version and revised paperback edition were released in 2019.
My main areas of expertise include evolutionary psychology, nature/nurture issues, sex differences, and kin selection theory. I also have a long-standing interest in philosophy, especially philosophical issues related to the mind and evolutionary theory. Some of my earliest academic work was on the placebo effect.
Evolutionary Psychology / Behaviour Genetics / Philosophy of Mind
PSGY2015: Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology
PSGY2017: Personality and Individual Differences
PSGY3024: Evolutionary Psychology
My research revolves around the idea that theories from evolutionary biology can shed light on the human mind and behaviour. In particular, I'm interested in the evolutionary origins of human sex… read more
STEWART-WILLIAMS, STEVE, CHANG, CHERN YI MARYBETH, WONG, XIU LING, BLACKBURN, JESSE D. and THOMAS, ANDREW G., 2021. Reactions to male-favoring vs. female-favoring sex differences: A preregistered experiment and Southeast Asian replication British Journal of Psychology. 112, 389-411
My research revolves around the idea that theories from evolutionary biology can shed light on the human mind and behaviour. In particular, I'm interested in the evolutionary origins of human sex differences and altruism. I also have a long-standing interest in the philosophical implications of evolutionary theory.
How do nature and nurture conspire to produce average differences between men and women? How different are the sexes, anyway? Are we highly dimorphic like peacocks and deer? Or are we relatively monomorphic, like gibbons and sea dragons?
And why is research on sex differences so controversial? Do people react more negatively to research findings that favour males than those that favour females?
The Evolution of Human Altruism
If evolution is all about the survival of the fittest, why are people usually quite nice to each other? Do humans, like most other animals, help relatives more than non-relatives? If natural selection favours organisms that preferentially help their relatives, why are we often so nice to friends, romantic partners, and other unrelated individuals?
The Nature and Nurture of Individual Differences
My colleague Steve Janssen and I are setting up a twin registry in Southeast Asia, so we can do research into the nature and nurture of psychological traits in a non-Western society. (Most twin studies to date have been done in the West.)
The Philosophical Implications of Evolutionary Theory
This was the subject of my first book, Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life (2010, Cambridge University Press).
The placebo effect