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.
- Evolutionary Psychology
- Cultural Evolution
- Sex Differences
- Mutual Mate Choice
- Behavioural Genetics
- Philosophy of Mind
- Placebo Effect
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.