Social evolution and behaviour

I have recently become very interested in the adaptive bases for a range of social behaviours, including the signal content of the human face and body. For example, to what extent does information in a person’s face predict their likely behaviour? In several cases we have seen correlation between relatively neutral, static facial appearance and personality traits. Two examples are below.

Which of the faces above looks more sympathetic? The face on the left is a composite image of the 15 women in a sample of 65 who reported themselves the least interested in others' feelings; the face on the right is made from the 15 women who reported themselves the most interested. About 80% of the people we've tested get this particular question right. Examples like this suggest that the faces of highly sympathetic and less sympathetic women contain different kinds of information. Observers are able to extract this information to accurately identify the different personality types. For more, see Kramer & Ward; Internal facial features are signals of personality and health

Above are the images of two female chimpanzees scoring low (left) and high (right) on dominance, a characteristic that maps onto human extraversion. Seventy percent of our participants accurately identified this specific pair. For more, see Kramer, King, & Ward; Indentifying personality from the static, nonexpressive face in humans and chimpanzees

Results like these raise more questions than they answer. What is the basis for any link between appearance and behavioural biases? We have been focusing on the human case and possibilities we are investigating include: the spatial structure and relationships between face parts; color and texture cues; postural and expression differences, such as differences in the way the head is held, and any micro-expressions that people might maintain.

Neuropsychology of intention

I have a long-standing interest in the conflict between voluntary and controlled behaviour. Most of us have unwanted behaviours which we find difficult to control. Breakdown in controlled processing with age and brain lesion can lead to a loss of cognitive flexibility. The work here explores the brain mechanisms involved in these conflicts.

Artificial, evolved agents

We investigated in detail the selective attention system of artificial agents, and found interesting similarities with human selective attention.

CV cloud

I just stuffed my entire, unedited cv into www.wordle.net, and it is an amazing summary of the past years of research, places, and collaborators. Actually not entirely unedited, since I took out my own name.

CV Cloud

me!