Social and Evolutionary Psychology Research Group

The Social and Evolutionary Psychology Research Group includes all aspects of social and evolutionary psychology, including comparative psychology. The members of this group use a broad range of methods, including qualitative and quantitative approaches, the use of ‘big data’ such as mobile phone records and observational work with primates. One of the key aims of the group is to facilitate collaboration across group members from different research backgrounds and with different areas of methodological expertise.

Meet our team

Lab Co-ordinator: Sam Roberts, Senior Lecturer

Claudine Clucas, Senior Lecturer

Nicola Davies, Senior Lecturer

Hannah Heath, Lecturer

Moira Lafferty, Senior Lecturer

Nicola Lasikiewicz, Lecturer

Lindsay Murray, Senior Lecturer

Suzanne Stewart, Senior Lecturer



Some of our current projects

Making sense of big data: Social relationships and communication (PI: Sam Roberts). ‘Big data’ from electronic communication allows for the examination of human behaviour on a scale, and at a level of detail, not possible with traditional methods of data collection such as questionnaires. However, a key challenge in this field is interpreting how this big data relates to the quality of the social relationships people maintain with others. This project uses data from mobile telephone communication to examine how people’s communication patterns relate to their social relationships. We are examining whether people have distinct patterns of distributing their communication across their social network, and how stable these patterns are if the network members change. We are also examining how mobile communication relates to the emotional intensity of social relationships and patterns of face-to-face communication.


Laterality of hand use in primates: Is hand preference stable, heritable and related to personality and social networks? (PI: Lindsay Murray). This observational study aims to record hand preference among primates. It will: (i) explore stability over different time periods; (ii) investigate whether preferences may have a heritable component; (iii) assess links between hand preference and personality; and, (iv) utilise social network analysis to investigate whether laterality is related to association patterns in primates. Our earlier work found that chimpanzees are unbiased towards hand-use although a significant proportion are exclusively-specialized. Links between hand preference for tool use and personality were also uncovered.  Data on hand preferences are not plentiful and information about its stability, heritability and potential links to personality and association patterns may facilitate our understanding of the evolution of human hemispheric lateralization (with implications for language evolution).  This could aid decision-making regarding management and conservation of endangered species.


Title: Understanding self-respect and its role for personal and societal functioning (PI: Dr Claudine Clucas). Whilst we are all familiar with the term “self-respect”, the concept has received little attention in the psychological literature, with much of the literature concentrating on self-esteem (Kristjansson, 2007; Roland & Foxx, 2003). There seems to be agreement in the literature that self-respect is one’s sense of worth linked to moral and principled character and conduct (Roland & Foxx, 2003) but there is little empirical evidence to support this and more work is needed to refine our understanding of the concept. Self-respect is likely to uniquely contribute to psychological well-being and positive societal behaviour. The current project examines the bases of self-respect and its association with psychological well-being and various interpersonal behaviours.


Recent publications

Aledavood, T., López, E., Roberts, S. G. B., Reed-Tsochas, F., Moro, E., Dunbar, R. I. M., & Saramäki, J. (2015). Daily rhythms in mobile telephone communication. PLoS ONE, 10, e0138098.

Brown, H., Lafferty, M.E., & Triggs, C. (2015). In the face of adversity: Resiliency in winter sport athletes. Science & Sports, 30, e107-e117.

Clucas, C. (2016). Cancer patients’ respect experiences in relation to perceived communication behaviours from hospital staff: analysis of the 2012–2013 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey. Supportive Care in Cancer, 24, 1719-1728.

Clucas, C., & Chapman, H. (2014). Respect in final year student nurse-patient encounters – an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 2, 671-685.

Clucas, C., Karira, J., & St Claire, L. (2012). Respect for a young male with and without a hearing aid: A reversal of the “hearing aid effect” in medical and non-medical students? International Journal of Audiology, 51, 739-45,

Chapman, H. M., & Clucas, C. (2014). Student nurses' views on respect towards service users—An interpretative phenomenological study. Nurse Education Today, 34, 474-9.

Curry, E. O., Roberts, S. G. B. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Altruism in social networks: Evidence for a "kinship premium". British Journal of Psychology, 104, 283-295 

Lafferty, M.E., & Triggs, C. (2014). The Working with Parents in Sport Model (WWPS-Model): A practical guide for practitioners working with parents of elite young performers. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 5, 117-128.

Roberts, S. G. B. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2015). Managing relationship decay: Network, gender and contextual effects. Human Nature, 26, 426-450.

Saramäki, J., Leicht, E. A., Lopez, E., Roberts, S. G. B., Reed-Tsochas, F. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2014) Persistence of social signatures in human communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 942-947.

Stewart, S. L. K., Corcoran, R., Lewis, S. W., & Drake, R. J. (2010). The relationship of theory of mind and insight in psychosis: Evidence for specificity. Psychosis: Psychological, Social, and Integrative Approaches, 2, 34-40.

Stewart, S. L. K., Corcoran, R., & Drake, R. J. (2009). Mental state references in psychosis: A pilot study of prompted implicit mentalizing during dialogue and its relationship with social functioning. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 14, 53-75.

Stewart, S. L. K., Corcoran, R., & Drake, R. J. (2008). Alignment and theory of mind in schizophrenia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 13, 431-448.

Pollet, T. V., Roberts, S. G. B. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2011) Extraverts have larger social network layers but do not feel emotionally closer to individuals at any layer. Journal of Individual Differences, 32, 161-169.