Professor Robin Dunbar

Subject: Anthropology, Experimental Psychology

Department: Experimental Psychology

Background

I attended Magdalen College School, Brackley, and then went to Magdalen College to read PPP (Psychology & Philosophy), graduating in 1969. After completing a PhD on the behavioural ecology of primates at Bristol University, I went to Cambridge on a SERC Advanced Research Fellowship (URF). I subsequently held research and teaching posts at Stockholm University (Zoology), University College London (Anthropology) and Liverpool University (Psychology and then Biology) before returning to Oxford in 2007. I became Emeritus Fellow in 2017. In 2021, I was elected a Foreign Member of the Finnish Academy of Science & Letters.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the evolution of sociality in primates and other mammals (in particular, feral goats and klipspringer antelope). This has involved understanding the constraints on social group size, and the strategies that different species exploit to break through the glass ceilings these impose. This brings together understanding brain evolution, the relationship between brain regions, cognition and behaviour, the role of the neuroendocrines (in particular, endorphins) in social bonding, and the role of time as a climatically-driven constraint on grouping.

Selected Publications