BA PhD DSc (Hons)
Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology
- ERC Advanced Investigator
My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these.
Social complexity and the fractal structure of group size in primate social evolution
Dunbar RIM. and Shultz S., (2021), Biological Reviews
Dunbar R., (2021), New Scientist, 249, 36 - 40
United on Sunday: The effects of secular rituals on social bonding and affect.
Charles SJ. et al, (2021), PLoS One, 16
The default network of the human brain is associated with perceived social isolation.
Spreng RN. et al, (2020), Nat Commun, 11
Narrative structure of A Song of Ice and Fire creates a fictional world with realistic measures of social complexity.
Gessey-Jones T. et al, (2020), Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 117, 28582 - 28588