Dr Michael Stirrat

My research focuses on person perception and cooperative decision-making, particularly trust, but also aggression, leadership, group dynamics, and reproductive choices. If you are interested in post-graduate study in these areas, please email me.

I studied for my first degree at Edinburgh University in Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence; then following the commitment to evolutionary thinking and computer science, I took the Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems postgraduate course at Sussex University. Thereafter, I returned to Scotland to work with Prof David Perrett on various Unilever funded contracts using computational graphics techniques in the study of skin health, ageing, and face perception which led to a face perception focused PhD on the Psychology of Trust (Sexual Selection and Trust Games, 2009). 

I joined York St John in 2014.

Academic qualifications

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

PhD (Psychology) – Sexual Selection and Trust Games (St Andrews University, 2009)

PGDip – Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems (University of Sussex, 2002)

MA (1st Class Hons) – Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence (University of Edinburgh, 2001)

Further Information


BSc (Hons) Psychology

1PY404 Current Psychology (module leader)

2PY400 Social Psychology

3PY353 Evolutionary Psychology (module leader)

3PY357 Animal Psychology

3PY340 Dissertation


MSc by Research


Evolution of Cooperation; Aggression; Psychology of Rhetoric; Face Perception; Religion; Individual Differences; Cooperation/Coordination; Social Attributions; Social Decision Making; Social Identity; Person Perception; Psychology of Trust; Psychology of Groups; Leadership/Followership.

Professional Activities

Journal Article Reviewer: Psychological Science, Experimental Social Psychology, Personality, Leadership Quarterly, Body Image, Animal Behavior, Human Ethology Bulletin, Perception, Cognition, Emotion, Journal of Personality, Cognition and Emotion, Evolutionary Psychology, Evolution and Human Behaviour, Ethology, Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, Computers in Biology and Medicine, Vision Research, Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH), Neural Computation, and others.

Grant Reviewer: Leverhulme Trust

PhD Reviewer: Třebický, Vít. Relationship Between Male Facial Morphology and Assessments of Fighting Ability (PhD Thesis). Univerzita Karlova.

Membership of Professional Bodies: European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (Member – Treasurer and Steering Committee Member 2014-2017), Human Behavior and Evolution Society (Member), BPS (Eligibility Confirmed), The Galton Institute (Member), University and College Union (94218), International Society of Human Ethology (Member). Fellowship of HEA.

Book Acknowledgements: The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins (2006); The Origins of Meaning, Jim Hurford (2007).


Třebický, V., Stirrat, M. & Havlíček, J. (accepted). Fighting assessment. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Zilioli, S., Sell, A. N., Stirrat, M., Jagore, J., Vickerman, W., & Watson, N.V. (2014). Face of a fighter: Bizygomatic width as a cue to formidability. Aggressive Behavior.

Stirrat, M., & Cornwell, R. E. (2013). Eminent scientists reject the supernatural: A survey of the Fellows of the Royal Society. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 6:33

Danel, D. P., Fedurek, P., Coetzee, V., Stephen, I. D., Nowak, N., Stirrat, M., Perrett, D. I., et al. (2012). A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Population-Specific Face Shape Preferences (Homo sapiens). Ethology, 118(12), 1173–1181.

Stirrat, M., Stulp, G., & Pollet, T. V. (2012). Male facial width is associated with death by contact violence: Narrow-faced males are more likely to die from contact violence. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(5), 551–556.

Stirrat, M., & Perrett, D. I. (2012). Face structure predicts cooperation: men with wider faces are more generous to their in-group when out-group competition is salient. Psychological Science, 23(7), 718-722.

Law Smith, M. J., Deady, D. K., Moore, F. R., Jones, B. C., Cornwell, R. E., Stirrat, M., et al. (2012). Maternal tendencies in women are associated with estrogen levels and facial femininity. Hormones and Behavior, 61(1), 12-16.

Horning, S. M., Davis, H. P., Stirrat, M., & Cornwell, R. E. (2011). Atheistic, agnostic, and religious older adults on well-being and coping behaviors. Journal of Aging Studies, 25(2), 177-188.

Stirrat, M., Gumert, M. D., & Perrett, D. I. (2011). The effect of attractiveness on food sharing preferences in human mating markets. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 79-91.

Stirrat, M., & Perrett, D. I. (2010). Valid facial cues to cooperation and trust: male facial width and trustworthiness. Psychological Science, 21(3), 349-354.

Stephen, I. D., Law Smith, M. J., Stirrat, M. R., & Perrett, D. I. (2009). Facial Skin Coloration Affects Perceived Health of Human Faces. International Journal of Primatology, 30(6), 845-857.

Cornwell, R. E., Law Smith, M. J., Boothroyd, L. G., Moore, F. R., Davis, H. P., Stirrat, M., et al. (2006). Reproductive strategy, sexual development and attraction to facial characteristics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 361(1476), 2143-2154.

Law Smith, M. J., Perrett, D. I., Jones, B. C., Cornwell, R. E., Moore, F. R., Feinberg, D. R., Boothroyd, L. G., Durrani, S. J., Stirrat, M., et al. (2006). Facial appearance is a cue to oestrogen levels in women. Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 273(1583), 135-140.

Jones, B. C., Perrett, D. I., Little, A. C., Boothroyd, L., Cornwell, R. E., Feinberg, D. R., Tiddeman, B. P., Whiten, S., Pitman, R., Hillier, S. G., Burt, D. M., Stirrat, M. R., Law Smith, M. J., Moore, F.R. (2005). Menstrual cycle, pregnancy and oral contraceptive use alter attraction to apparent health in faces. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 347-354.

Tiddeman, B., Stirrat, M. R., & Perrett, D. I. (2005a). Towards realism in facial prototyping: results of a wavelet MRF method. Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics.

Tiddeman, B., Stirrat, M. R., & Perrett, D. I. (2005b). Towards realism in facial transformation: results of a wavelet MRF method. Computer Graphics Forum, 24 (Eurographics conference issue), 1-5.


Who pays for dinner on a blind date? National Institute of Mental Health. Topolavá 748, Klecany, Charles University, Czech Republic. September, 2017.

Perceived fighting ability in female UFC fighters – 23rd Biennial Congress of the International Society for Human Ethology, Stirling. August, 2016.

Faces we Trust: Observable personality in faces; cooperation, aggression, and mating – Invited talk: Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, USA. November 2015

fWHR – What is it good for? – NE Face and Person Perception Workshop, Northumbria University, Newcastle. June 2015.

Presenter at the symposium:  Observing the unobservable: Psychophysical cues to fertility, leadership capacity, trustworthiness, and health – Annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science. Washington, DC. May 2013

Trust Games: Sex, Facial Width, Posture and Trustworthiness – Invited Talk: Heymans Colloquia Series, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. October 2010

Religion and Coping Behaviour – Humanist Society of Scotland, Dundee. May, 2010

Male facial-width-ratio, dominance signalling, and untrustworthiness – 20th Biennial Congress of the International Society for Human Ethology, Madison, Wisconsin. August, 2010.

Robust male skull shape is associated with untrustworthiness – 5th Annual Meeting of the European Human Behavior and Evolution Association, Wroclaw, Poland, March, 2010.

Male Dominance and Female Facial Attractiveness Modulate Behaviours in Trust Games –20th Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, Kyoto. June, 2008.

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