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Twitter @dr_aMachin

Recent Media AND PUBLIC Engagement

'Engagement with Mental Health Research'

Workshop hosted by the Wellcome Trust, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, 16th September 2017

'Is Love Real?'

Facebook Live Event with Oxford Sparks 15th August 2017

 '50 Words Grand Prize Giving Ceremony'

Science writing competition for 11-16 year olds. Weston Library, The Bodlein, Oxford, 4th July 2017

The Why? Factor: BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service


Oxford Sparks PodCast

Relationships 2: Fatherhood


Literary Agent

Sally Holloway, Felicity Bryan Associates

Media Agent

Helen Purvis and Sue Ayton, Knight Ayton Management




Anna Machin

PhD (Archaeology), MSc (Evolutionary Anthropology), BA(Hons) Anthropology and English

Academic Visitor

 Research Summary

My research focuses upon the psychology, cognition and neurobiology of human social relationships.   I am interested in how individuals maintain their closest relationships and why people might differ in their desire and ability to do this.   I have a particular interest in long term romantic relationships and the father-infant relationship.

I am also passionate about Public Engagement with Research and spend a considerable amount of time taking part in PER events and engaging with the media to make sure the outcomes of my research reach the general public.  I was the lead relationships scientists on two series of Married at First Sight (CPL/Channel4) and on-screen behavioural expert and offscreen behavioural consultant for Meet The Humans (BBC Earth).

My research covers a number of areas and utilises a number of experimental techniques:

  • The evolution of the kinship system from a cognitive perspective (fMRI, online and lab-based)
  • The role for the endogenous opioid system in the maintenance of human relationships at the dyadic and group level (PET): In Collaboration with Aalto University, Finland.
  • Post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in fathers
  • The pharmacogenetics of human prosocial behaviour: In collaboration with Dr Eiluned Pearce.
  • The biology and psychology of new fatherhood (Lab and field-based): In collaboration with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

My research is funded by the European Research Council and the British Academy.


Recent Publications

Pearce, E. Woldorski, R. Machin, A. & Dunbar, RIM (2017). Variation in the beta-endorphin, oxytocin and dopamine receptor genes associated with different dimensions of human sociality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 

Nummenmaa, L., Tuominen, L., Dunbar, R., Hirvonen, J., Manninen, S., Helin S., Machin, A., Hari, R., Jääskeläinen, I. P. & Sams, M. (2016). Reinforcing Social Bonds by Touching Modulates Endogenous µ-opioid System Activity in Humans NeuroImage 138:242-7.

Pearce, E., Launay, J., Machin A. J. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2016).  Is group singing special? Health, well-being and social bonds in community-based adult education classes Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology 26:518-533.

Machin, A. J. (2016).  The Transition to Fatherhood. NCT Perspectives 30.

Machin, A. J. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2015). Is kinship a schema? Exploring the evolutionary origins of kinship Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 36

Machin, A. J. & Fisher, D. (2015). Why does engaging with families in maternal and infant care make such a positive difference? International Journal for Birth & Parenting Education 3:19-23.

Machin, A. J. (2015). Mind the Gap: The Expectation and Reality of Involved Fatherhood Fathering 13:36-59.

Dunbar, R. I. M. & Machin, A. J. (2014). Sex Differences in Relationship Breakdown and Reconciliation Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

Machin, A. J. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2014). The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence in R.I.M. Dunbar, C. Gamble & J.A.J. Gowlett (eds.) Lucy to Language: Benchmark Papers Oxford University Press, Oxford pp.181-213.

Carney, J., Dunbar, R., Machin, A., Dávid-Barrett, T. & Mauro Silva, J. (2014).  Social Psychology and the Comic-Book Superhero: A Darwinian Approach Philosophy & Literature 38:A195-A215.

Machin, A. J. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Sex and Gender as Factors in Romantic Partnerships and Best Friendships Journal of Relationships Research 4:e8.

Machin, A. J. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2011). The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence Behaviour 148: 985-1025.

Machin, A. J. (2010). Human Fatherhood: A multidisciplinary perspective Social Psychological Review. 12:1-23




Recent publications

More publications