Evolution of Cooperation
I am interested in how cooperation has evolved in the organic world, and particularly in the human species. Research work with colleagues involves multi-agent computer models and empirical work with human participants. Current interest focusses on explaining why cooperation increases under adversity and uncertainty.
Trade-Offs in Human Mate Choice
Studies of human mate choice tend to focus on a single attribute of choice, whereas choosing a mate involves simultaneous judgement of a number of attributes. I have developed a method for measuring the way in which people trade off the importance of two different attributes in judging the desirability of a potential partner. The method allows quantification of the equivalence of two different mate qualities; for example, the degree of facial attractiveness a woman would forgo in one partner in order to gain another who had, say, an additional £20,000 a year in salary. We have used the method to test hypotheses about the relative importance of different mate qualities as a function of variables of adaptive interest, such as age, relationship status and the nature of the relationship sought .
Human Sex Ratios
With colleagues at other institutions I am examining the Trivers-Willard theory that high status or condition partnerships will tend to have sons rather than daughters, while low status partnerships will tend to have daughters.
1996-1998: Animal Behaviour.
Appointments on Scientific Bodies
1981, 1984: Consulting Editor, Animal Behaviour.
1981-84, 1991-93: Council member, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
1983-1992: Council member, International Council of Ethologists.
1985-90: Hon. Treasurer, Company Secretary, Chairman of Grants Committee, and Secretary of the Finance and Journal Committees of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Other Work for External Bodies
Research strategy adviser, University of Edinburgh.
Member of experts panel and media panel, British Psychological Society.
Consultant and contributor on science and arts/science collaborations for the printed media, radio, theatre and The Poetry Society.