Ape in long grass


Our animal psychology research is helping us better understand human evolution 

Our research in the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology explores the evolutionary processes and developments that shape animal behaviour, and how it compares with the development of the human mind.

Through a deeper understanding of the minds and behaviours of animals, we're exploring how humans have evolved – from how social structures are formed, to the ways in which evolutionary thinking can help solve the problems of today.

The research we do is collaborative, and we work with colleagues in other faculties at the University, and with academic and industry partners outside it. Our research portal, Pure, has a full list of our staff and researchers working in this area.

We've worked with Monkey Haven, a sanctuary on the Isle of Wight, to conduct cognitive and behavioural studies with rescued primates. We've partnered with The Donkey Sanctuary, where our research is helping to grow our understanding of the behavioural and logistical support needed for global welfare projects. We've collaborated with Zantiks Ltd, the only company that designs and builds customised behavioural testing environments for zebrafish, and our work is helping with their development.

Recent funders for our research include the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Leverhulme Trust, Marie Curie, the British Academy and the Royal Society.


Our research relates to our Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology area of expertise. It also covers the following topics:

  • Evolution and development
  • Social cognition and Emotion
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Animal Cognition
  • Animal Welfare
  • Domestication and Cognition
  • Primatology


Our research methods include behavioural and cognitive experiments, and observations of behaviour. We use statistical analysis, such as a generalised linear mixed models, along with monitoring physiological measures, such heart rate, thermal imaging and cortisol.

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