Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology
The Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology aims to better understand human and animal behaviour and cognition through 1) comparison with other animals, and 2) through consideration of evolutionary processes. Our members are active research scientists, and we collaborate with international scientists and animal institutions, including zoos, international primate research centres, field stations and sanctuaries. We have recently opened a primate behaviour study centre in collaboration with Marwell Wildlife. We also offer our students summer field courses to study primates in Borneo and Zambia.
Our work receives funding from various funding bodies, including ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Alcohol Research Centre, Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, European Commission, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, NIH.
Professor Kim Bard (Director)
Dr. Bridget Waller (Acting Director)
Example Research Projects
"Strategic modulation of dynamic aspects of facial and vocal attractiveness" - Ed Morrison is currently the principal investigator on this ESRC funded grant to understand how movement contributes to facial attractiveness in humans.
Crested Macaque Social Cognition Project - Bridget Waller is developing a cognitive research centre (funded by the University of Portsmouth) to study crested macaques (Macaca nigra) at Marwell Wildlife Zoo. The project is linked to the Macaca-nigra Project where Jerome Micheletta is conducting fieldwork with wild crested macaques in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Communication and Cognition in Orangutans - Marina Davila-Ross is currently developing this project at Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a new research site in the rainforests of Malaysia, together with Professor Elke Zimmermann, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany.
Comparing emotional expression across species - GibbonFACS. – Bridget Waller is one of the project leaders on this Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) funded project within the Excellence initiative Languages of Emotion (Project leaders: Katja Liebal, Bridget Waller and Anne Burrows
Socio-emotional experiences and primate social cognition – Kim Bard has been awarded a Research Project Grant by The Leverhulme Trust in March 2010, to conduct cross-species and cross-cultural investigations of the development of social cognition.
Members Research Interests
My particular research interests are comparisons between chimpanzees and humans in the development of primary intersubjectivity (e.g., neonatal neurobehavioural integrity, neonatal imitation, mutual gaze, socio-emotional communicative expressiveness), the development of early social cognition (e.g., joint attention, social referencing), and the development of self-recognition. I am President of the Primate Society of Great Britain, and have received numerous research grants, most recently from The Leverhulme Trust. I have written over 64 peer-reviewed articles, in which similarities and differences have been documented across primate species.
I am interested in comparative facial communication and the evolution of social cognition and emotion, and work mainly with species such as humans, great apes and macaques. Specifically, I am interested in the evolutionary function of facial expression in social interaction, and why communicating emotion is so important in human and non-human primate society. My first degree was in Zoology (Royal Holloway University of London, and this has stayed with me as I maintain a Darwinian approach to the study of behaviour. I completed an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool, and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.
I am interested in evolutionary approaches to behaviour. My research focuses on human mate choice, especially movement and facial attractiveness. Before joining Portsmouth, I completed my PhD at the University of Bristol on the topic of improving ecological validity in facial attractiveness research. I previously worked for three years in the scientific and medical publishing industry. Before that, I completed an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool, and a BA in Natural Sciences (zoology) at the University of Cambridge.
I study the evolution of language and emotions, by comparing humans with apes in the wild, in sanctuaries, and in captivity. My current and recent projects focus on laughter in apes and humans, imitation, emotional contagion, emotional intelligence, unfairness, and morality. I use a comparative and phylogenetic approach to reconstruct the evolution of human behaviours and abilities as well as an ethological and acoustic approach to gain more insights into natural social interactions of apes and humans. Field study sites: Semi-wild chimpanzee colonies at Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage (Zambia) and free-ranging and pre-release orangutans living in the Sepilok National Park and Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre (Borneo).
I have broad interests that cover comparative and evolutionary psychology. However, I would not count myself an “Evolutionary Psychologist” as I regard mainstream thinkers in this area (e.g. Tooby and Cosmdies, Dawkins, Baron-Cohen) to be profoundly mistaken in their beliefs about the influences of evolution on behaviour. Humans and other animals are complex systems in themselves and form part of systems of even deeper complexity. The behaviour we observe is often the result of emergent properties of such systems with no obvious relationship to natural and sexual selection. With regard to specific research areas I share with Robert Hinde an interest in the evolution of the teddy bear. I am also interested in animal personality and emotions with a particular focus on secondary emotions.
Following my PhD (Sussex) I completed research at the University of Birmingham on an AERC (Alcohol Education Research Council) project examining factors important in alcohol consumption and joined the department here at Portsmouth in 2005. My research interests are centred in 3 inter-related areas: Olfaction; Eating Behaviour; Drugs and addiction. Olfaction - I am interested in what influences our sense of smell (see picture of olfactory lab); the nature of olfactory memories; human pheromones and I am a member of the Association for Chemosensory Sciences (AChemS). Eating behaviour - I examine factors associated with hunger and appetite; obesity and I am a member of the British Feeding and Drinking Group (BFDG) which is an international group interested in all aspects of food and drink. Drugs and addiction - my work here centres on the effects of drugs (e.g. caffeine, alcohol) on memory and attention.
My current research focuses on the identification of brainwave (EEG) activity which links to anxious rumination. Additionally, I am currently working on a research project investigating the relationship between personality variables (most notably Jeffrey Gray’s revised ‘Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory’; RST) and primary/ secondary Psychopathy. Otherwise, my main research interest involves using psychophysiological measures to characterise the neural processes which link to personality variables inherent in RST.
My main research interest is the evolution of human cognition with a particular focus on social cognition. Here I am especially interested in the individual’s understanding of others’ perception, knowledge, intentions, desires and beliefs. I am also interested in questions concerning cooperation and communication among individuals. In my research I follow a comparative approach, that is, I select meaningful groups for comparisons. One comparison is that of humans with their closest living relatives, the great apes. Another comparison is that of humans with one of their earliest domesticated species, the domestic dog.
I am interested in communication and social cognition in primates, and work with both wild and captive populations of macaques, combining observational and experimental approaches. More specifically, I am particularly interested in the link between social tolerance and the evolution of complex communication. I completed a BSc in Zoology at the University of Nancy, an MSc in Ecology, Physiology and Ethology at the University of Strasbourg before completing my PhD in Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.