Welcome to the Evolution Lab at the University of Melbourne
Using behavioural science, evolutionary biology, and sociocultural theory, our research focuses on big issues that profoundly influence people’s mental, social and economic wellbeing. We examine topics including sexual conflict, competitiveness and empowerment, sex hormones, and aggression and violence. Our combined application of nature and nurture frameworks provides a useful guide to understanding how cross disciplinary insights can be used to promote public good.
News and Media Coverage
Join the Lab
If our research interests you, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you might join our lab. We are always looking for colleagues with similar interests, and students who want to gain more experience in these topics.
Twice a year, we recruit research interns to gain more experience in conducting research. Typically, there are only a small number of these positions, and we preference students with at least third or fourth year training in psychology or related fields. If you are interested, please send a recent CV and transcript to the Evolution Lab Director, Dr Khandis Blake (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are interested in completing a PhD in the Evolution Lab, please send a recent CV, transcript and writing sample to the Evolution Lab Director, Dr Khandis Blake. Also ensure you let Dr Blake know what your research interests are.
- Dr Khandis Blake
Director of Lab
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
+61 3 9035 5733
- Sylvia Harmon-Jones
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Economic inequality, romantic and childhood attachment, early life adversity, and development
- Auguste Harrington
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
- Jacob Kuek
- Lindsie Arthur
Hormonal contraceptives, menstrual cycle, female competitiveness, status seeking, mating behaviour.
- Tomas Cartmill
Radical extremism, deradicalization, political ideology, emotions
- Macken Murphy
Mating behaviour, mate value, inequality, infidelity
- Wahidah Pan
Beauty, physical attractiveness, self-objectification, status seeking, status anxiety, feminism
- Sulaman Sarwar
Masters Student 2022
- Mark Leak
Honours Candidate 2023
Intimate partner violence, attachment theory, romantic relationship dynamics, personality psychology, social psychologyy
- Ash Neilson
Honours Candidate 2023
Masculinity, behaviour change implementation, emotional repression, heteronormativity, forensic psychology, personality dynamics
- Sarah-Ann Moh
Honours Candidate 2023
- Kabir Manandhar Shrestha
Research Data Specialist (MDAP)
Natural language processing, machine learning, deep Learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science, computer vision
- Valerie Marinko
- Robert Capp
evolutionary theory, intra-sexual competition
- Lu Korth
- Michelle Li
- Claire Lin
- Meila Wong
Gender and sexuality norms
- Alsa Wu
Interpersonal influences, menstrual cycle, sex hormones
Dr Gulnaz Anjum, Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan
Dr Tania Reynolds, The University of New Mexico
A/Prof Kathleen Casto, New College Florida
Professor Steven Gangestad, University of New Mexico
Professor Rob Brooks, University of New South Wales, Sydney
Professor Thomas Denson, University of New South Wales, Sydney
A/Prof Michael Kasumovic, University of New South Wales, Sydney
Dr Siobhan O’Dean, University of Sydney
Dr Stephen Whyte, Queensland University of Technology
Dr Barnaby Dixson, University of the Sunshine Coast
Dr Isabel Krug, University of Melbourne
Dr Scott Griffiths, University of Melbourne
Professor Brock Bastian, University of Melbourne
Dr Julia Stern, University of Bremen
Dr Ruben Arslan, University of Leipzig
Evolution Lab Publications by Year
* denotes a student in the Evolution Lab
*Arthur, L. & Blake, K. R. (in press). Fertility predicts competitiveness in naturally cycling women but not hormonal contraceptive users. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-022-00198-4
- Altmetrics score of 90. One of the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#10 of 169).
- Article (including interviews) was featured in news outlets such as SBS News, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times, and ABC Radio.
Brooks, R., & Blake, K. (in press). “Staying alive” and the implications for staying well in old age [commentary]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X2200053X
*Luberti., F., Blake., K. R., & Brooks., R., (in press). High promiscuity and cheap weddings: “Low-priced” sex affects the attitudes of sexually restricted individuals and men. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Blake, K. R., *McCartney, M., Arslan. R. (in press). Menstrual cycle and hormonal contraception effects on self-efficacy, assertiveness, regulatory focus, optimism, impulsiveness, and risk-taking. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2022.104382
*Arthur, L., Casto, K., & Blake, K. R. (2022). Hormonal contraceptives as disruptors of competitive behavior: Theoretical framing and review. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 66, 101015. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2022.101015
- Altmetrics score of 103. Among the highest scoring outputs from this source #16 of 502).
- Scopus FWCI of 1.39.
Griffith, S., Cowley-Court, T., Austen, E., Russo-Batterham, D., & Blake, K. (2022). "Spring is the best time to lose weight”: Evidence that dieting is seasonal and reaches peak intensity during Spring. Body Image, 41, 406-416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.04.011
*Luberti, F., Blake, K., & Brooks, R. (2022). Changes in positive affect due to popularity in an experimental dating context influence some of men’s, but not women’s, socio-political attitudes. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 8, 202-237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-022-00188-6
Brooks, R., Russo-Batterham, D. & Blake, K. R. (2022). Incel activity on social media linked to local mating ecology. Psychological Science, 33(2), 249-258. https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976211036065
- Altmetrics score of 203
Blake, K. (2022). Attractiveness helps women secure mates, but also status and reproductively relevant resources. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 51, 39-41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-01949-2
Blake, K. R., Anjum, G., & Brooks, R. (2021). Family and gendered fitness interests effects on female stereotyping, attitudes toward female autonomy, and status-seeking in Pakistan. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 7, 382-402. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-021-00174-4
*Kellie, D., Blake, K. R., & Brooks, R. (2021). Behind the makeup: The effects of cosmetics on women’s self-objectification, and their objectification by others. European Journal of Social Psychology, 51(4-5), 703-721. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2767
- Scopus FWCI of 1.62
Griffith, S., Austen, E., Krug, I., Blake, K. R. (2021). Beach body ready? Shredding for summer? A first look at “Seasonal Body Image”. Body Image, 37, 269-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.03.004
*Kellie, D., Blake, K., & Brooks, R. (2021). Prejudice towards sex workers depends on the sexual activity and autonomy of their work, hobbies and daily activities. Collabra: Psychology, 7(1): 24386. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.24386
Kerry, N., Blake, K. R., Murray, D., & Brooks, R. (2021). Male descendant kin promote conservative views on gender issues and conformity. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3, e34. https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2021.29
Brooks, R., & Blake, K. R. (2021). Gendered Fitness Interests: A proposal explaining how relatives affect socio-political attitudes and behaviours. Evolution & Human Behavior, 42(4), 295-303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.12.002
Blake, K. R., *O’Dean, S., *Lian, J., & Denson, T. (2021). Misogynistic tweets correlate with and prospectively predict domestic violence incidents over time. Psychological Science, 32(3), 315-325. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620968529
- Top 10 of the most cited by all APS journals in 2021; Altmetrics score of 317; Scopus FWCI of 2.23
Jones, B.C., DeBruine, L.M., Flake, J.K., … Blake., K. R.,… Chartier, C.R. (2021). To which world regions does the valence–dominance model of social perception apply? Nature Human Behavior. 5, 159-169. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-01007-2
- Scopus FWCI of 27.53
Casto, K., *Arthur, L., Hamilton, D. and Edwards, D. (2021). Testosterone, Athletic Context, Oral Contraceptive Use, and Competitive Performance in Women. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 8, 52-78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-021-00180-6
Lyon, D., Owen, S., Osborne, M., Blake, K. R., *Andrades, B. (2020). Left / Write / Hook: A mixed method study of a writing and boxing workshop for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. International Journal of Wellbeing. 10(5), 20201206.
- Noted in Scopus for economic impact: United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality, and Goal 16 Peace, justice, and strong institutions.
Krug, I., Selvarajaa, P, Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., Hughes, E, Slater, A., Griffiths, S., Yee, Z. W., Richardson, B., & Blake, K. (2020). The effects of Fitspiration images on body attributes, mood and eating behaviors: An experimental daily monitoring study in females. Body Image. 35, 279-287. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.09.011
*Luberti., F., Blake., K. R., & Brooks., R., (2020). Does the quality of mating competitors affect socio-political attitudes? An experimental test. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 6, 501-531. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00151-3
Krug, I., Yee, Z., Griffiths, S., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., Blake, K., & Richardson , S. (2020). The differential impact of viewing fitspiration and thinspiration images on male body image: An experimental ecological momentary assessment study. Body Image. 35, 96-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.08.008
- Scopus FWCI of 2.03
Blake, K., Godwin, M., Letheren, K., Russell-Bennett, R., & Whyte, S. (2020). “I sexually identify as an Attack Helicopter”: Incels, trolls, and non-binary gender politics online. First Monday. 25(9). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i9.10601
Kasumovic, M. Hatcher, E., Blake, K. R., & Denson, T. (2020). Performance in video games affects self-perceived mate value and mate preferences. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 15(2), 191–207. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000231
Blake, K.R. & Gangestad, S. (2020). On attenuated interactions, measurement error, and statistical power: Guidelines for social and personality psychologists. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 46(12), 1702-1711. Available at https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167220913363 .
- Scopus FWCI of 5.54
*Arthur, L., Brooks, R. & Blake, K. R. (2020). Female self-sexualization covaries with mate value but not mate availability. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. 6, 277-291. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00133-5
Blake, K. R., Brooks, R., *Arthur, L., & Denson, T. (2020). In the context of romantic attraction, beautification can increase assertiveness in women. PLoS One. 15(3): e0229162. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229162
*Luberti, F., Blake, K., & Brooks, R. (2020). The effects of the mating market, sex, age, and income on socio-political orientation: Insights from Evolutionary Theory and Sexual Economics Theory. Human Nature, 31, 88-111. Available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-019-09361-5
- Scopus FWCI of 2.27
*Kellie, DJ, Blake, KR, & Brooks, RC (2019). What drives female objectification? An investigation of appearance-based interpersonal perceptions and the objectification of women. PloS one, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221388
- Noted in Scopus for economic impact: United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality
Blake, K. R. & Brooks, R. (2019). Status anxiety mediates the positive relationship between income inequality and female sexualization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Available at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1909806116
- Altmetrics score of 333; News circulation reached >480 million people
Blake., K. R., & Brooks., R. (2019). Income inequality and its implications for gendered conflict. In J. Jetten & K. Peters (eds.), The Social Psychology of Income Inequality. Springer. Available at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-28856-3_11
Blake, K. R., Bastian, B., Denson, T., Grosjean, P., & Brooks, R. (2018). Income inequality not gender inequality positively covaries with female sexualization on social media. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Available at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1717959115
- Altmetrics score of 1258; 99.9999th percentile of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetrics (N = 11.8m); Top ranked paper for 2018 in School of Psychology UNSW Sydney (Altmetrics)
Denson, T., O’Dean, S., Blake, K., & Beames, J. (2018). Aggression in women: Behavior, brain, and hormones. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Available at https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00081
- Altmetrics score of 172; Article has more views than 99% of all articles in Frontiers journals
Blake, K. R. (2018). Resolving speculations of methodological inadequacies in the standardized protocol for characterizing women’s fertility: Comment on Lobmaier and Bachofner (2018). Hormones and Behavior. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.05.022
Blake, K.R., Fourati, M., & Brooks., R. (2018). Who suppresses female sexuality? An examination of support for Islamic veiling in a secular Muslim democracy as a function of sex and offspring sex. Evolution & Human Behavior. Available athttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.06.006
- 98th percentile of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetrics (N = 11.8m)
Blake, K. R., & Brooks, R. (2018). High mate value men become more accepting of intimate partner abuse when primed with gender equality. Frontiers in Sociology. Available at https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2018.00028
Dixson B., Blake, K. R., Denson, T. F., Gooda-Vossos, A., Sulikowski, D., Rantala, M. J., & Brooks, R. C. (2018). The role of mating context and fecundability in women’s preferences for men’s facial masculinity and beardedness. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 93, 90–102. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.04.007
- 90th percentile for Altmetrics Attention Score for outputs of same age and source
Dixson, B., Lee, A., Blake, K. R., Jasienska, G., & Marcinkowska, U. (2018). Women’s preferences for men’s beards do not change with their likelihood of conception. Hormones and Behavior. 97, 137–44. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.11.006
- 97th percentile for Altmetrics Attention Score for outputs of same age and source
Kasumovic, M., Blake, K. R., & Denson. T. (2017). Using knowledge from human research to improve understanding of contest theory and contest dynamics. Proceedings of The Royal Society B. 284, 2182–91. Available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.2182
Blake, K. R., Bastian, B., & Denson, T. (2017). Heightened male aggression toward sexualized women following romantic rejection: The mediating role of sex goal activation. Aggressive Behavior. 44, 40–49. Available at https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21722
- Picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; Top #20 downloads for Aggressive Behavior in 2017–18; Featured in Women’s Health Victoria Government Policy document
Blake, K. R., Hopkins, R., Sprunger, J., Eckhardt, C. I., & Denson, T. (2017). Relationship quality and cognitive reappraisal moderate the effect of negative urgency on intimate partner violence. Psychology of Violence. 8, 218–28. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/vio0000121
Blake, K.R., Dixson, B., O'Dean, S., & Denson, T. (2017). No compelling positive association between ovarian hormones and wearing red clothing when using multinomial analyses. Hormones and Behavior, 90, 129–35. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.03.005
Blake, K. R. & Denson, T(2017). Contexts for men’s aggression against men. In T. K. Shackelford & V. A. Weekes-Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer Nature. Forthcoming book. Available at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_862-1
- Featured in Women’s Health Victoria policy document (McKenzie et al., 2018, Advertising (in)equality: The impacts of sexist advertising on women’s health and wellbeing, Women’s Health Victoria, available at https://apo.org.au/node/209151)
Blake, K. R., Bastian, B., O'Dean, S., & Denson, T. (2016). High estradiol and low progesterone positively predict assertiveness in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 75, 91–99. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.10.008
- 94th percentile for Altmetrics Attention Score for outputs of same age
Blake, K. R., Yih, J., Zhao, K., Sung, B., & Harmon-Jones, C. (2016). Skin-transmitted pathogens and the heebie jeebies: Evidence for a subclass of disgust stimuli that evoke a qualitatively unique emotional response. Cognition and Emotion. 31, 1153–68. Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2016.1202199
Blake, K.R., Dixson, B., O'Dean, S., & Denson, T. (2016). Standardized protocols for characterizing women’s fertility: A data-driven approach. Hormones and Behavior, 81, 74–83. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.03.004
- 678 downloads of researcher protocols from Open Science Framework; 96th percentile in Behavioral Neuroscience articles of the same age and type
Blake, K. R., Bastian, B., & Denson, T. (2016). Perceptions of low agency and high sexual openness mediate the relationship between sexualization and sexual aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 42, 483–97. Available at https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21644
- 90th percentile for Altmetrics Attention Score for outputs of same age
Kasumovic, M. M., Blake, K. R, Dixson, B. & Denson, T. F. (2015). Why do people play violent video games? Demographic, status-related, and mating-related correlates in men and women. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 204–11. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.06.018
- 97th percentile for Altmetrics Attention Score for outputs of same age
The Evolution Lab's research main research topics are about status/appearance; the mating market (primarily using Twitplat); and the menstrual cycle (using daily diaries).
Please find any of Dr Blake's active projects published on the Open Science Framework (OSF).
For researchers interested in big data and social media, our TwitPlat database can provide access to billions of data-points from around the world. At The Evolution Lab we have conceived, developed and are now maintaining a database of 6 billion geolocated Twitter posts (spanning 8 years). What first sets TwitPlat apart is the sheer size of data availability. Adding to this strength, all posts are geolocated to very fine granularity using an algorithm developed with help from a team of computer scientists. This Locatarithm algorithm geolocates posts with unique specificity, locating:
- Every city in the world with over 100,000 inhabitants.
- Every country in the world.
- Using six languages.
- Every United States city with over 5,000 inhabitants.
- Every Australian suburb, city and region.
No other algorithm known provides such fine-scale variation in location, and it is this variation that provides us with the unique ability to examine socio-structural correlates of behaviour across time and place. If you are interested in using the TwitPlat database, please get in touch with us!
Menstrual Cycle Studies
Are you interested in understanding how female cognition and behaviour is influenced by fertility? Although this is a fruitful area of emerging research, measuring fertility and menstrual cycle phase can be indirect, imprecise and ambiguous.
To resolve this problem and help other researchers, we have developed a data-driven method for characterising women’s fertile phase. Our research compared frequently used counting methods (including several approaches to forwards- and backwards-counting) against luteinizing hormone tests. While developing these guidelines for best practice, we found:
- No counting method predicted ovulation with more than 30% accuracy.
- Less than 40% of the fertile days were predicted using counting methods.
- Combining counting methods with a luteinizing hormone test (a relatively inexpensive urine test) can improve fertility accuracy to 95%.
If you are interested in conducting menstrual phase, hormonal contraceptive or fertility studies, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can also find more information about Standardized Protocols for Characterizing Women’s Fertility through our Open Source Framework webpage.
Image from The Menstrual Cycle at Hello Clue.
Lab Contact Details
The Evolution Lab
Redmond Barry Building
Tin Alley, The University of Melbourne
Parkville, 3010, VIC, Australia