Designing Healthy Behaviour

Whilst our brains were designed by evolution to produce behaviour that was good for our ancestors, in today’s world we use addictive  substances, eat too much, exercise too little and leave ourselves prey  to ancient and emerging infections. To change such behaviours we need to understand the evolved causes of behaviour motives and habits in […]

Science on Screen: The Social Network

Network pioneer Michelle Girvan asks how her field of research reflects and is reflected in our social lives. Girvan discusses how social media websites like Facebook, which have dramatically transformed the nature of human interactions, are invaluable to scientists because they generate and store massive amounts of Big Data which can be used to gain new insights […]

Can Computers Teach Us About Evolution of Cooperation?

Evolution can be merciless. It selects for success and banishes failure. It is therefore natural to assume that it favours genes that help themselves and not others. Yet for some reason, cooperative behaviour has managed to evolve, with no solid explanation as to why. But thanks to computer technology, we may now be closer to […]

(Pre-)crime and Punishment

Do models that claim to be able to predict crime open the door to smarter policing, or just reduced policing? “A city is an ecological system” – a true urban jungle, in which human behaviour can be viewed through a thoroughly biological lens, its stable patterns open to tracking and even anticipation. So says University […]

It’s Not the Weather

The evidence grows stronger by the day. Most people now accept that it is happening. It could put millions of lives at risk, yet many are still reluctant to act upon it. According to Dr Alexa Spence of the University of Nottingham, psychological distance is a big part of the problem: “Climate change is an […]

Bad gossip catches the eye

Gossip doesn’t just affect how you’re judged, a study shows, it controls whether people see you at all. According to evolutionists, a good prattle is vital in forging relationships.  It’s the human equivalent of chimps picking flees from each other. It’s also key to our huge social groups.  We quickly evaluate people we’ve never met, learning […]

Stereotypic sex roles penetrate scientific literature

Could a 1950s attitude to gender roles be stunting animal behaviour research? A recent study published online by the journal Animal Behaviour has found extensive stereotyping of sex roles throughout the research literature of sexual conflict: portraying males as active and females as reactive. Sexual conflict refers to adaptations produced by one sex that are […]

Down in the dumps

If you men out there have just broken up with your girlfriend, you will probably hear the platitude “time is the greatest healer”. Given enough time you will be able to forget that old flame and move on to someone better. Science has, unfortunately, shown this to be nothing but empty words. According to the Journal […]

She’s quite a dish

I love it when science demonstrates something that is bloomin’ obvious to the rest of us. In the journal of Evolutionary Psychology, researchers have published a study showing that men are significantly more likely to pay for a meal when their female companion was attractive. The scientists showed pictures of women to 245 men, and […]

Puppy love

Warning: this post contains scenes of extreme cuteness and adorability. Reader discretion is advised. Scientists have, for the first time, proved systematically that tiny little kittens and puppies are actually cute. It sounds incredibly obvious; even the coldest, stony-hearted grinches out there will melt at the sight of a baby animal looking up at them. […]

Judging a book by its sexy cover

Have you ever noticed how beautiful people always seem to be the most popular as well? I’m sure you have, from whatever part of the high school pecking order you happened to find yourself in. Not that it will make the lower echelons of humanity feel any better, but there might be a scientifically sound […]

Unpopularity contest

To the consternation of all downtrodden geeks, dweebs, sissies, melvins, Imperial students and nerds out there, those bullies who made your schooldays less than pleasant were probably more popular than you were. Research from the American Sociological Review has shown that, far from being thuggish, sociopathic bastards, they actually have an intricate network of friends. […]

Humans = Lemmings?

We may have the technological solutions to help fight environmental change and create a sustainable society, but do we have the right psychology? Anna Perman investigates Aren’t humans clever? We have colonised every corner of the world, and created a global community. It is the large and magnificently organised human brain which has enabled us […]

London’s Swingers

Anne Coleman, photography Jonathan Primmer – April 2010   Introduction   We are all familiar with London’s sprawling skyline, or rather river-line. Dotted with structures such as the London Eye, the Millennium Bridge and Canary Wharf, which are all household names, it is hard to picture a London without them. They represent our culture, our […]