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

William McAuliffe

I studied philosophy and psychology as an undergraduate at University of Miami and University of Sydney. I joined the lab in the summer of 2014. Much of my research concerns how people respond to novel social situations. When people observe others in need, do they feel compassion or schadenfreude? When people observe transgressions, do they respond with anger or indifference? Do people readily act on rare opportunities to cheat others with impunity, or do they default to their cooperative habits? Which individual difference variables moderate the answers to these questions?  For more information see my website.

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

Carlton Patrick

Carlton Patrick is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida. He studies the psychology of legal decision making, often from an evolutionary perspective.


Daniel Forster

I joined the EHB Lab in 2012 after earning my B.A. from UC Santa Barbara. While at UM, I studied how social emotions, such as gratitude and forgiveness, promote the development and maintenance of relationships. Upon completing my PhD in 2018, I started a postdoctoral fellowship with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to investigate how communication and other social processes facilitate teamwork. Across my research interests, I take a social-information processing approach to understand how people draw inferences and make decisions during social interactions.


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. I am now an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. See my website for more information.

Liana Hone

I received my BA in Physical Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I worked at the Center of Evolutionary Psychology. I received my MS and PhD in Psychology from the University of Miami, where I joined the Evolution and Human Behavior Lab. I worked in the Alcohol, Health, and Behavior Lab and the Social Cognitive and Addiction Neuroscience Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri. I now work at the Research Institute on Addictions on the medical campus of the University at Buffalo where I am funded by an Individual F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. My research focuses on sex differences in negative consequences of acute intoxication and the effects of alcohol use on the expression of sexually selected traits. I am currently running an alcohol administration study to examine the effects of intoxication on men’s sexual interest judgments and women’s sexual risk perceptions related to risk for alcohol-related sexual assault. Please see my website [] for more information. 

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.