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Robin Dunbar

Robin Dunbar read Psychology and Philosophy (PPP) at Magdalen College, Oxford University (1966-1969), and afterwards studied for a PhD in Behavioural Ecology in the Psychology Department at Bristol University (1970-1973). After a period as a postdoc working on primate behavioural ecology, he was awarded an SERC (now BBSRC) University Research Fellowship, which he held in the Zoology Department, Cambridge University (1977-1982), while working on the behavioural ecology of ungulates (primcipally klipspringer in East Africa and feral goats in Scotland) in Sociobiology Project at the King’s College Research Centre.
Subsequently, he held a docent post in the Institute of Zoology, Stockholm University (1984), and a Research Fellowship in the Zoology Department, University of Liverpool (1985-1987), before taking up a lecturership and later a Chair in the Department of Anthropology, University College London (1987-1994). He then held chairs in the Psychology Department (1994-1998) and the School of Biology (1998-2007) at the University of Liverpool, before returning to Oxford as Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology in the School of Anthropology (2007-2012).
His principal research interests are in social evolution in mammals, with particular reference to ungulates, primates and humans), and the ways in which ecology, behaviour, cognition and neurobiology interact. He was Co-Director of the British Academy’s Centenary Research Project “Lucy to Language: The Archaeology of the Social Brain” (2003-2010). He was elected a Fellow of the Psychology Section of the British Academy in 1998.

Series featuring Robin Dunbar

  • Social Media and Faith
  • New Thinking: Advances in the Study of Human Cognitive Evolution
  • Keble College
  • Oxford Abridged Short Talks
  • Science and Religious Conflict Conference
  • Big Questions - with Oxford Sparks
# Episode Title Description People Date
1 How do you survive the office Christmas party? ‘Tis the season to be merry, so it’s time for the annual Christmas party. For some employers it can be more fraught than fun! In this episode of the Oxford Sparks Big Questions podcast we ask: how do you survive the office Christmas party? Robin Dunbar 09 Jan 2018
2 Creative Commons Why the Internet won't get you any more friends Professor Robin Dunbar, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford, gives a talk as part of the Keble College Creativity Lecture series. Robin Dunbar 28 Mar 2012
3 Creative Commons The Social Brain on the Internet In primates and humans alike, the number of social relationships an individual can have is constrained in part by its social cognitive competences and in part by the time available to invest in face-to-face interaction. Robin Dunbar 23 Aug 2011
4 The Social Net(works?): Part 2: Friendship, Community and the Social Media Revolution Panel discussion on Social Media networks asking how are traditional understandings of community and friendship affected by new mediums for communication, especially within the context of Christianity. Presented by the Veritas Forum at Oxford. Robin Dunbar, Jenny Rutherford, Graham Ward, Joel Harrison 19 Jul 2011
5 The Social Net(works?) Friendship, Community and the Social Media Revolution Panel discussion on Social Media networks asking how are traditional understandings of community and friendship affected by new mediums for communication, especially within the context of Christianity. Presented by the Veritas Forum at Oxford. Robin Dunbar, Jenny Rutherford, Graham Ward, Joel Harrison 19 Jul 2011
6 The Social Net(works?): Part 1: Friendship, Community and the Social Media Revolution Panel discussion on Social Media networks asking how are traditional understandings of community and friendship affected by new mediums for communication, especially within the context of Christianity. Presented by the Veritas Forum at Oxford. Robin Dunbar, Jenny Rutherford, Graham Ward, Joel Harrison 19 Jul 2011
7 Darwin and Friends Professor Robin Dunbar explores if there is a limit to the number of friends we can keep track of and explains the origin of "Dunbar's Number". Robin Dunbar 10 Feb 2011
8 Creative Commons Is Religion Adaptive? Integrating Cognition and Function Professor Robin Dunbar (Oxford) gives the first presentation for the Science and Religious Conflict Conference. The commentator is Professor Janet Radcliffe-Richards (Oxford). Robin Dunbar, Janet Radcliffe-Richards 07 Jun 2010