University of Nottingham Malaysia
School of Psychology

Evolution and Human Behaviour

Our research

Our research revolves around the idea that theories from evolutionary biology can shed light on human psychology. In particular, we’re interested in the evolutionary origins of altruistic behaviour and human sex differences.

Kinship, Altruism, and Morality

If evolution is all about the survival of the fittest, why are people usually quite nice to each other? If natural selection favours organisms that aid their relatives, why are people often nicer to their friends and lovers? Is morality a part of human nature - or is it a social institution designed to control and constrain the destructive aspects of human nature?

Human Sex Differences

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?

Current Projects / Undergraduate Opportunities

1. Kinship Psychology

Focus: Patterns of help among long-term married couples and couples who are married with children.

2. Family Dynamics

Focus: Patterns of closeness and helping among intact families vs. stepfamilies, adults and their parents-in-law, siblings-in-law, etc.

3. Evolution of Human Sex Differences

Focus: Average sex differences in traits such as mate preferences, physical aggression, and attitudes toward relationships.




Research Interests

  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Altruism
  • Morality
  • Kinship
  • Sex Differences
  • Mutual Mate Choice
  • Behavioural Genetics
  • Intelligence
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Placebo Effect

New Book


Steve’s new book, The Ape That Understood the Universe, is coming out in September. It opens with a question: How would an alien scientist view our species? What would it make of our sex differences, our child-rearing patterns, our moral codes, languages, and science? The book tackles these questions by drawing on ideas from two major schools of thought: evolutionary psychology and cultural evolutionary theory. You can read an excerpt here.

Personal Website


School of Psychology

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8000
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8018

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