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Bronwyn Tarr

BSc (Hons; University of Cape Town); MSc (Oxford); PhD/DPhil (Oxford)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Departmental Lecturer, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology

Dance and Social bonding

Research Summary


Originally from Namibia, I previously studied Evolutionary Biodiversity and Zoology at the University of Cape Town, completing my honours research on cooperative breeding in Naked Mole Rats. At Oxford I graduated with a masters in Environmental Change and Management, where I used social science research skills to look at art and environmental education. Following this I joined Robin Dunbar's Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research lab, where I began my doctoral research on a topic which combines my love of dance with my curiosity about human nature, evolution and sociality. 

Doctoral research summary

The stage for my doctoral research is set around humans' widespread love-affair with music and dance. Working with people in Brazil, Oxford and Barcelona, my studies investigate how dancing in synchrony acts as a social glue, causing the release of endorphins and the experience of a collective ‘high’. The research has relevance to research relating to dance movement therapy, mirror neurons, group synchronisation and human sociality in general. I am also interested in educational psychology, social bonding and cooperation generally.  A believer in Open Science, I have delivered a number of interactive public talks, spoken on radio and podcasts and written popular science articles on my research. 

I have run studies in the UK, Northern Brazil and Barcelona.

For a recent podcast on my research: 'Dance - it's only human'

For a non-scientific discussion about my research: Oxford Research on 'How to live a happy life'

For a popular science article on a recent research paper: 'The Conversation'


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Selected Publications


Public engagement talk: Rhodes Retreat on Community, Social Bonds and Dance

Invited speaker at the 2016 1st Year Rhodes Retreat, as part of a series on human nature and community.