Schaefer Lab: Human Behavior

We are interested in the biological causes of facial shape variation and in the resulting social perception (both in children and adults). For this, we study biological processes such as allometric, androgenic (current, and also prenatal via the study of digit ratio, 2D:4D), and genomic effects on facial morphology and integrate concepts from evolutionary psychology and aesthetics to decompose facial shape patterns in relation to mating system (including non-human primates in a comparative approach), fluctuating asymmetry, perceived attractiveness, sex stereotypes, overgeneralization, etc.

We apply methods for systematic assessment, quantification and experimental manipulation of biological form using the toolkit of geometric morphometrics (and imaging techniques).

Not only can we isolate and plot the shape changes that are determined by proximate "biological causes" (e.g., different hormone exposures in the prenatal environment, upper panel), but also we can now work backward from perception to form (e.g., face overgeneralization to car fronts, lower panel: childlike looking car on the left, "adult" one on the right).

We also study modern human behaviour in the urban environment in the context of evolutionary aesthetics, crowding, and xenophobia, emphasizing direct behavioral observation.