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Dr Joe Stubbersfield is a senior lecturer in Psychology. He holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Manchester, an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology from the University of Liverpool, and a joint Psychology and Anthropology PhD from the University of Durham. He has held previous posts at the University of St Andrews, the University of Durham and Heriot-Watt University before joining the University of Winchester in 2021. 

He is the Personal Tutor, and Volunteer Research Assistant coordinator for Psychology, module leader for Approaches and Myth Busting in Psychology (foundation year), Volunteering for Psychology (year 3), and Pschology Placement (year 3), and supervises undergraduate projects on a variety of topics related to social psychology. 

Other teaching responsibilities include:

  • Developing Academic Skills and a Sense of Vocation (foundation year)
  • Applied Skills for Research and Practise (year 2)
  • Social Psychology (year 2)

He is leader of the Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group, and a member of the Healthy Lives Research Group. He is the current editor of the Cultural Evolution Collection for Humanities & Social Sciences Communications and a lead designer of a free, online learning module on the Cultural Evolution of Narratives for the Cultural Evolution Society.

Areas of expertise

  • The cultural transmission and evolution of narratives
  • The role of cognitive biases in the content and propagation of misinformation, conspiracy theories and urban legends


Journal articles

Acerbi, A., & Stubbersfield, J. M. (2023). Large language models show human-like content biases in transmission chain experimentsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences120(44), e2313790120.

Scrivner, C., & Stubbersfield, J.M.(2023). Curious about threats: morbid curiosity and interest in conspiracy theories in US adults. British Journal of Psychology

Youngblood, M., Stubbersfield, J. M., Morin, O., Glassman, R., & Acerbi, A. (2023). Negativity bias in the spread of voter fraud conspiracy theory tweets during the 2020 US electionHumanities and Social Sciences Communications10(1), 1-11. 

Stubbersfield, J.M. (2022). Content biases in three phases of cultural transmission: A reviewCulture and Evolution19(1), 41-60.

Matthews, L., Nowak, S., Gidengil, C., Chen, C., Stubbersfield, J., Tehrani, J., & Parker, A. (2022). Belief correlations with parental vaccine hesitancy: results from a national survey. American Anthropologist. 1-16. 

Stubbersfield, J. M., Dean, L. G., Sheikh, S., Laland, K. N., & Cross, C. P. (2019). Social transmission favours the ‘morally good’ over the ‘merely arousing’. Palgrave Communications5(1), 70.

Stubbersfield, J., Tehrani, J., & Flynn, E. (2018). Faking the News: Intentional Guided Variation Reflects Cognitive Biases in Transmission Chains without Recall. Cultural Science Journal, 10(1), 5465.

Jiménez, A.V., Stubbersfield, J.M, & Tehrani, J.J. (2018). An experimental investigation into the transmission of antivax attitudes using a fictional health controversy. Social Science & Medicine, 215, 23-27.

Stubbersfield, J., Flynn, E., & Tehrani, J. (2017). Cognitive Evolution and the Transmission of Popular Narratives: A Literature Review and Application to Urban Legends. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, 1(1), 121-136

Stubbersfield, J. M., Tehrani, J.J., & Flynn, E.G. (2017). Chicken Tumours and a Fishy Revenge: Evidence for Emotional Content Bias in the Cumulative Recall of Urban LegendsJournal of Cognition and Culture, 17 (1-2), 12-26

Stubbersfield, J. M., Tehrani, J. J. & Flynn, E. G. (2015). Serial killers, spiders and cybersex: Social and survival information bias in the transmission of urban legends. British Journal of Psychology, 106 (2), 288-307

Stubbersfield, J., & Tehrani, J. (2013). Expect the Unexpected? Testing for Minimally Counterintuitive (MCI) Bias in the Transmission of Contemporary Legends: A Computational Phylogenetic Approach. Social Science Computer Review, 31(1), 90-102

Book Chapters

Stubbersfield, J.M. (2023). Conspiracy Theories: A Cultural Evolution Theory Approach. In J.J. Tehrani, J. Kendal, & R. Kendal (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Evolution (online edn, C72S1–C72P225). Oxford Academic. 

Magazine, Newspaper and Online

Stubbersfield. J. (2023). How morbid curiosity can lead people to conspiracy theoriesThe Conversation.

Stubbersfield, J. (2021). Candyman: the urban legends behind the movie and why we find them irresistible. The Conversation

Stubbersfield, J. (2020). Conspiracy theories: Tasty burgers for the mind. Konect Magazine

Stubbersfield, J. (2018). Faces in the Mirror: The Urban Legend of Bloody Mary. Folklore Thursday.

Stubbersfield, J. (2018). Contemporary folklore reflects old psychology. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture Blog.

Stubbersfield, J. (2014). This is why some urban legends go viral. The Conversation

Book Reviews

Stubbersfield, J.M. (2023). [Review of the book Evolution of Learning and Memory Mechanisms, edited by M.A. Krause, Hollis, K.L., & Papini, M.R]. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture. 7(1).

Stubbersfield, J.M. (2019). [Review of the book The Ape that Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve, by S. Stewart-Williams]. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture. 3(1), 147-150.

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