The Evolution Lab is interested in how big data can be used to understand human behaviour. Over the past few years, we have built the technological architecture to constantly stream and geolocate public tweets.

Our geolocation algorithm allows us to geolocate data to a very fine scale, including:

  • 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. We have currently geolocated over 6 billion tweets to every country in the world. With these data we are able to analyze aggregate patterns of behavior across time and place.

We use these data to understand how things like income inequality, gender inequality, and climate affect important aspects of human psychology. We can also link these data to crime statistics, to see if online chatter can prospectively predict real-world crime.

Research Questions

  • What are the global socioecological predictors of eating disorders?
  • What socioecological structures predict online chatter about women in STEM?
  • Does online misogyny prospectively predict domestic violence?
  • Read  more

    Blake, K. R., Denson, S., Lian, J., & Denson, T. (in press). Misogynistic tweets correlate with and prospectively predict domestic violence incidents over time. Psychological Science.

Is beauty a form of competition?

We may like to pretend, in Western society, that beauty doesn't matter anymore and that we have transcended superficiality. But in reality, both research and many of our day-to-day experiences say otherwise. Beauty has become a commodity that people use to try and get ahead in life, and competition is fierce to stand out from the pack.

Research Questions

  • Do people use physical attractiveness as a form of social capital?
  • Do concerns about status incentivize people to enhance their beauty?
  • Does status anxiety increase pressure on men look fit?
  • Read  more

    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. 116(50), 25029–25033. Available at

    Blake, K. R., Brooks, R., Arthur, L., & Denson, T. (in press). Sexually motivated beautification can increase assertiveness in women. PLoS One.

    Kellie, D., Blake, K., & Brooks, R. (2019). What drives female objectification? An investigation of appearance-based interpersonal perceptions and the objectification of women. PLoS One. Available at

The psychological effects of the mating market

At the Evolution Lab, we are interested in how the availability of romantic partners – whether they are relatively abundant, or scare – affects a range of attitudes and experiences. We examine how the number of men relative to women in a geographic area affect political attitudes and attitudes toward gender. We also consider whether gender inequality affects psychology because it affects the mating hierarchy.

Research Questions

  • How do sex ratios affect political attitudes and dating competition?
  • Does gender equality drive some men toward intimate partner violence?
  • Does the sex ratio of occupational industries shift political attitudes?
  • Read  more

    Arthur, L., Brooks, R. & Blake, K. R. (2020). Female self-sexualization covaries with mate value but not mate availability. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. Link:

    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. Link:

    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