Welcome to the Evolutionary Social Psychology (ESP) Lab at Michigan! We conduct research on a variety of psychological topics that are informed by evolutionary thinking. In doing so, we ask not only what people do, but why and how our ancestral histories might have influenced such behaviors. We investigate questions such as:

  • How do threats and opportunities linked to ecological features (like sex ratios, resource scarcity, unpredictability, and especially infectious disease) shape how we think about others and ourselves?
    • What beliefs do people hold about the influence of these ecological features?
    • How do we detect these features (e.g., using sensory processes)? Is this detection accurate or biased?
  • How do people respond when evolved psychological mechanisms are mismatched to current environments?
  • What aspects of consumer decisions (e.g., food choice) are affected by these types of factors?

New Paper Alert

Ever hidden the fact you were sick from people around you? Our recent paper explores when and why people conceal contagious illnesses.

Interested in joining our lab?

  • Undergraduates — we recruit students each semester. We are recruiting students for Fall 2024 and we may have spots during this spring/summer as well. If you are interested in interviewing, please get in touch with our lab manager, Madhulika.
  • Dr. Ackerman is on sabbatical during the Winter 2024 semester, meaning replies to inquiries will take longer than usual.