After completing my bachelor studies in social psychology at Arizona State University, I enrolled in the evolutionary psychology Ph.D. program at the University of New Mexico in 2004. The program offered an interdisciplinary training across the evolutionary behavioral sciences housed within anthropology, biology, and psychology departments. Then, after completing my Ph.D. in 2009, I worked as a postdoc in health psychology under the advisement of Angela Bryan. I started as Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at VU Amsterdam in 2011 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. I teach courses on research methodology, statistics, and evolutionary approaches to human behavior. I currently serve as Associate Editor at Evolution and Human Behavior, the official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.
ProjectsI am currently involved in a number of projects, many of which fall under the umbrella of a five-year ERC Starting Grant, which aims to test fundamental aspects of humans’ psychology of pathogen avoidance. A selection of these projects includes:
- With Annika Karinen and Reinout de Vries: Testing accuracy in assessing others’ disgust sensitivity. Using a sample of approximately 300 dyads, this project applies self-other agreement methods from personality psychology to the study of disgust sensitivity.
- With Annika Karinen, Catherine Molho, and Tom Kupfer: Testing whether perceptions of foreign norm adherence or close contact with locals underlies the relationship between pathogen-avoidance psychology and anti-immigrant sentiments. In this registered report, we experimentally manipulate descriptions of immigrants as either having close physical contact with locals (or not) and maintaining the norms of their home country (or not), and we test whether these experimental manipulations moderate the relationship between disgust sensitivity and anti-immigrant sentiments.
- With Catherine Molho, Fan Lei, Tom Kupfer, Daniel Balliet, and Paul van Lange: Investigating how emotional responses (e.g., disgust versus anger) to anti-social behaviors are differentially associated with punishment tactics (e.g., direct versus indirect aggression). We are using multiple techniques to test this question, including daily diary assessments, online sampling, and laboratory testing.
- With Cagla Cinar: Better understanding how food neophobia varies across meat and plant categories. We are using field studies, online experiments, and behavioral studies, in which participants complete self-report instruments and behavioral assessments (e.g., willingness to ingest edible insects).
- With Cagla Cinar and Paola Perone: Testing hypotheses of prepared learning in evaluative conditioning. In these studies, we are using standard evaluative conditioning approaches in which images of conditioned stimuli are paired with positively- or negatively-valence unconditioned stimuli. We are testing whether disgust-eliciting unconditioned stimuli change assessments of foods differently than non-disgust-eliciting unconditioned stimuli do.
- With Paola Perone and Cagla Cinar: Investigating the effects of hunger on reactions to pathogen cues. We are using within-participant methods to test whether fasting for 15 hours affects heart rate, skin conductance responses, and self-reports of emotion toward a variety of emotion-evoking stimuli.
- With Florian van Leeuwen, Yoel Inbar, Michael Bang Peterson, and many other collaborators: Testing how pathogen avoidance motives relate to prejudice against gay men, lesbian women, and other sexual minorities. Using a sample of over 12,000 participants from 31 nations, we are examining how the data support different theoretical accounts aiming to explain the relationship between disgust sensitivity and antipathy toward gay men and lesbians.
My research interests are described in detail here: http://www.joshtybur.com/research/