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Evolutionary Research

Evolutionary Research

We work on topics related to mate choice, sexual selection, gender, and learning in humans.

Past and ongoing projects

Why are human men on average larger/more ‘masculine’ than women?

Amongst humans, men are, on average, taller, heavier, more muscular, and have more pronounced facial bone growth compared to women. Although these differences are small compared to some species such as Gorillas, previous researchers have nevertheless argued that they indicate ancestral polygyny in humans, including male-male competition. Other authors have argued that ‘masculine’ traits may signal heritable quality to women selecting a partner. We have found that in fact there is no clear link between facial masculinity and heritable health (e.g. Boothroyd et al., 2017) and are currently investigating whether existing data supports the suggestion that more ‘masculine’ men may acquire more sexual partners.

Gender and dominance in the voice

James Rutter is leading on research investigating how humans perceive gender in the voice, and what difference acoustic properties of the voice may (or may not) signal in terms of dominance and health.

Why do humans display gendered behaviour?

In collaboration with Dr Kate Cross (St Andrews), this work is investigating how and why humans may create gendered patterns of behaviour in complex social environments.