Principal Investigators

Dr. Michael McCullough

Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, where he directs the Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory and coordinates the Evolution and Behavior emphasis within the Psychology Department’s PhD Program. He holds a secondary appointment in UM’s Department of Religious Studies. Professor McCullough’s research—all of which is heavily influenced by evolutionary approaches to understanding human cognition and behavior—focuses on (a) psychological mechanisms related to social exchanges of costs and benefits (for example, forgiveness, revenge, and gratitude); (b) religion; (c) self-control; and (d) adolescent risk behavior. McCullough received the Margaret Gorman Early Career Award and the Virginia Sexton Mentoring Award from Division 36 (Psychology of Religion) of the American Psychological Association. On April 30, 2015, he received an honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa) from Université Catholique de Louvain. He has written more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In addition, Professor McCullough has authored or edited six books, the most recent of which is Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct, and is currently working on a book about the evolution of human generosity. Professor McCullough’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Fetzer Institute.. See Dr. McCullough's webpage for additional information.

Dr. Debra Lieberman

Debra Lieberman is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami. She earned her PhD at the University of California Santa Barbara at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology.  The central goal of Debra’s research is to understand how evolution has shaped the social mind. To this end she applies theoretical tools from evolutionary biology to develop hypotheses regarding function, then generates information-processing models that specify how the functional mechanism operates, and then empirically tests the validity of these models. Currently, Dr. Lieberman studies a range of phenomena including kinship, altruism, sexuality, disgust, morality, and gratitude.

   Graduate Students

Daniel Forster

I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology. I joined the Evolution and Human Behavior lab in 2012 as a graduate student in the Evolution and Behavior program in the Psychology department at UM. I am interested in how natural selection has shaped the way humans think about and engage in the social world, what mechanisms are at work when deciding with whom to form relationships, and to what extent investments are made in a relationship given a variety of social and non-social factors. I plan to use an eclectic approach by utilizing insights from work in evolutionary biology, behavior ecology, physical anthropology, and social/cognitive/developmental psychology.

Carlton Patrick
Carlton Patrick is an evolutionary legal scholar and an attorney in the state of Florida. His research and scholarship focus on the application of evolved cognitive psychology and evolutionary theory to legal questions and issues of public policy. His work has appeared in both legal and behavioral journals, including the Arizona State Law Journal, the Nevada Law Journal, and Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, and he is the co-author of the forthcoming book Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law. Prior to joining the lab, Carlton practiced law with Holland & Knight LLP. He received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, his M.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Miami, and his B.S. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from Florida State University. He is the recipient of the University of Miami Holmes Fellowship, the 2016 Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law Writing Prize, and the Rod Gillis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. You can view several of his publications on his SSRN page.


William McAuliffe

I completed my B.A. in psychology and philosophy at University of Miami in December, 2013. I began my Ph.D. in psychology as a member of the Evolution and Human Behavior laboratory in the summer of 2014. I am interested in using theory and findings from social psychology and evolutionary biology to understand what makes humans prosocial or antisocial in a given context. I am also interested in philosophy of science.

Joseph Billingsley

Joseph joined the EHB lab in 2014 as an advisee of Dr. Lieberman and the recipient of a UM Fellowship. For more than seventeen years, he enjoyed a successful career as the sales director of mid-sized book publisher before pursuing his scientific interests full-time. Joseph graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University in 1993, then received additional training from 2012-2014 at Tulane University in New Orleans. Broadly, Joseph seeks to employ the insights of evolutionary and social psychology to understand the factors that promote or undermine cooperative interaction-factors of particular interest include kinship, social exchange, shifting welfare valuations, and religiosity. Ongoing research projects involve investigating the cognitive architecture of emotional closeness; examining how kinship and association value interact to produce altruistic motivation; understanding the drivers of paternal investment; determining how kinship influences forgiveness; and assessing experimental evidence for the claim that religiosity promotes prosociality.

Thomas McCauley

I graduated with a B.S. in psychology from the University of Delaware in 2014, and an M.A. in experimental psychology from the College of William & Mary in 2017. I joined the EHB lab in fall of 2017, with the aim of pursuing questions pertaining to the evolved psychological mechanisms underlying cooperation, punishment, emotion, and morality. My goal is to understand how these mechanisms interact with enduring ecological features by identifying points of variance and invariance in their function across diverse societies. I'm also interested in statistics, experimental methodology, reproducibility in psychological science, and meta-science.

   Previous Graduate Students

Dr. Eric Pedersen

I joined the EHB lab in 2010 after receiving my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the evolved mechanisms that support human cooperation, including mechanisms for punishment and reconciliation. My research on punishment focuses on the underlying emotional, neural, and computational factors that motivate third-party punishment and whether the function of such punishment is to altruistically benefit others or to indirectly benefit the self. My research on reconciliation examines the neuroendocrine correlates of perceived relationship value and exploitation risk, and how these factors interact to influence forgiveness following interpersonal transgressions. I am also interested in kin-directed altruism, evolutionary game theory, and non-human animal models of behavior and their applicability to humans. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. See Dr. Pedersen's website for more information.

Liana Hone

I received my B.A. in Physical Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I worked for the Center of Evolutionary Psychology and the Gaulin Lab. I received my M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Miami, where I worked for the Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory. I am currently working with Ken Sher and Bruce Bartholow as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri. Broadly, I am interested in the evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans—that is, how men and women differ—and I gravitate toward research with a public health application. I am particularly interested in understanding sex differences in human behavior and physiology, and the interaction between hormones and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Presently, I am interested in exploring the relationship between college students' alcohol use and sexual coercion, modeling the relationship between executive cognitive functioning and alcohol-related negative outcomes as moderated by sex and alcohol sensitivity, and assessing the effects of alcohol on the expression of sexually selected traits.

Evan Carter

I joined the lab in 2008 and completed my dissertation on the meta-analytic evidence for the self-control depletion effect in 2013. I then received a postdoctoral fellowship from the NSF to examine the behavioral and neurobiological differences in intertemporal choice by rats during foraging tasks as compared to delay-discounting tasks. In 2016, I joined the United States Army Research Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow. I currently pursue research questions related to value-based decision making, improving meta-analytic methods, and understanding and predicting behavior studied over extended time periods.

Adam Smith

At Florida State University, in 2004, I earned a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in psychology.  Four years after graduating, I attended the annual meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Kyoto, Japan, where I was living and working as a teacher at the time. I met Debra Lieberman, and was inspired to become an evolutionary psychologist. One year later, in 2009, I entered the University of Miami, where I studied under Debra’s supervision until 2014 when I received my PhD for work on gratitude. My overarching research interests involve evolutionary and functional approaches to human cognition, behavior, and emotion. Specifically, I have researched the psychological mechanisms that underlie kin directed altruism and incest avoidance. I have also explored domain-specific applications of disgust, and the role disgust plays in the formation of stigma. Currently, I am working as a postdoc in Yohsuke Ohtsubo’s Evolutionary Social Psychology Lab at Kobe University. I am researching a variety of topics related to cooperation including gratitude, forgiveness, and the role of costly signals in the maintenance of interpersonal relationships.