Dr Michael Stirrat

I completed my PhD at St Andrews University in 2009 exploring the evolution of trusting and cooperative decision making as influenced by the perception of facial characteristics. This has led to exploring the perceptions of aggression in faces and perhaps how trust breaks down. My research still broadly revolves around the evolution of human cooperation, whether looking at the perception of MMA fighters on the one hand or attitudes to feminism on the other.

Prior to this I studied Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence (MA) at Edinburgh University and theoretical biology  (Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems PgDip) at Sussex University.

I joined Edinburgh Napier in January 2023 as a lecturer in Social Psychology and currently teach Social Psychology at various levels.


Current research interests:

I am currently keen to supervise topics in forensic psychology around Gaslighting and Coercive Control, but would be interested in topics in any of the following broad aread:

Evolution of Cooperation – the psychology of Trust, Risk, and Aggression; Social Attributions/Person Perception; Social Decision Making;  Psychology of Religion.


A full list of my publications can be found here, and below is a sample:

Douglass, M. D., Stirrat, M., Koehn, M. A., & Vaughan, R. S. (2023). The relationship between the Dark Triad and attitudes towards feminism. Personality and Individual Differences, 200, 111889.

Třebický, V., Stirrat, M. & Havlíček, J. (2019). Fighting assessment. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.

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

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.

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.