2006-2009 - PhD (The genetic etiology of human sexuality)
2000-2003 - B Psych Sc (Hons I)
Articles for The Conversation
My research activities focus on combining evolutionary and genetic approaches to human behaviour. This involves experiments, twin studies, and statistical genetics. Broadly, I want to know what evolutionary processes gave rise to the various characteristics of our extraordinary species, and why there are wide, heritable individual differences in these characteristics despite selective pressures favouring only the most advantageous genetic variants.
I'm particularly interested in mate preferences and choices, physical/behavioural/brain masculinity-femininity, physical attractiveness (face and body), intelligence, personality, and sexual behaviour and orientation.
Current PhD students under my primary supervision are James Sherlock, Jo-Maree Ceccato, and Liza van Eijk. Dr Anthony Lee is a former student with whom I still collaborate, and Dr Karin Verweij is a former postdoc with whom I still collaborate. I work closely with Prof Bill von Hippel's research group here at UQ, as well as the Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer.
PDFs below are for personal use only.
Italics denotes students under my primary supervision.
† Authors contributed equally
57. Arden, R. & Zietsch, B. P. (in press). An all-positive correlation matrix of test scores is not evidence of domain-general intelligence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences [IF: 20.8].
56. Robinson, M. R., Aaron Kleinman, A., Graff, M., Vinkhuyzen, A. A. E., Couper, D., Miller, M. B., Peyrot, W. J., Abdel Abdellaoui, A., Zietsch, B. P., Nolte, I. M., van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, J. V., Snieder, H., The LifeLines Cohort Study, Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium, Medland, S. E., Martin, N. G., Magnusson, P. K. E., Iacono, W. G., McGue, M., North, K. E., Yang, J., & Visscher, P. M. (in press). Genetic evidence of assortative mating in humans. Nature Human Behavior.
55. Sherlock, J. M., Verweij, K. J. H., Murphy, S. C., Heath, A. C., Martin, N. G., & Zietsch, B. P. (2016). The role of genes and environment in degree of partner self-similarity. Behavior Genetics. [IF: 3.3] PDF
54. Maciejewski, D.F., Renteria, M.E., Abdellaoui, A., Medland, S.E., Few, L.R., Gordon, S.D., Madden, P.A.F., Montgomery, G., Trull, T.J., Heath, A.C., Statham, D.J., Martin, N.G., Zietsch, B.P., & Verweij, K.J.H. (in press). The association of genetic predisposition to depressive symptoms with non-suicidal and suicidal self-injuries. Behavior Genetics. [IF: 3.3]
53. Sherlock, J. M., Sidari, M. J., Harris, E. A., Barlow, F. K., & Zietsch, B. P. (2016). Testing the mate-choice hypothesis of the female orgasm: disentangling traits and behaviours. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology (invited contribution to special issue on female orgasm).
52. Zietsch, B. P. (in press). Twins studies. Eds. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.
51. Sherlock, J. M. & Zietsch, B. P. (in press). Recessive genes. Eds. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.
50. Barlow, F. K., Sherlock, J. M., & Zietsch, B. P. (in press). Is prejudice heritable? Evidence from twin studies. Eds. Sibley, C. G. & Barlow, F. K. Cambridge Handbook of the Psychology of Prejudice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
49. Lee, A. J., Mitchem, D. G., Wright, M. J., Martin, N. G., Keller, M. C., & Zietsch, B. P. (2016). Facial averageness and genetic quality: Testing heritability, genetic correlation with attractiveness, and the paternal age effect. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 61-66. [IF: 3.1] PDF
48. Zietsch, B. P. (2016). Individual differences as the output of evolved calibration mechanisms: Does the theory make sense in light of empirical observations? Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 71-75. (invited review). PDF
47. Lee, A. J., Brooks, R. C., Potter, K. J., & Zietsch, B. P. (2015) Pathogen disgust sensitivity and resource scarcity are associated with mate preference for different waist-to-hip ratios, shoulder-to-hip ratios, and body mass index. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 480-488. [IF: 3.1] PDF
46. Sherlock, J. M., Zietsch, B.P., Tybur, J. M., Jern, P. J. (2015). The quantitative genetics of disgust sensitivity. Emotion, 16, 43-51. [IF: 3.4]
45. Zietsch, B. P., Lee, A. J., Sherlock, J. M., Jern, P. (2015). Variation in women’s facial masculinity preference is better explained by genetic differences than by previously identified context-dependent effects. Psychological Science, 28, 1440-1448. [IF: 4.9] PDF
44. Hansell, N. K., ... Zietsch, B. P. , . . . Wright, M. J. (2015). Genetic basis of a cognitive complexity metric. PLos One, 10(4), e0123886. [IF: 3.2] PDF
43. Haysom, H. J., Mitchem, D. G., Lee, A. J., Wright, M. J., Martin, N. G., Keller, M. C., & Zietsch, B. P. (2015). A test of the facultative calibration/reactive heritability model of extraversion. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 414-419. [IF: 3.1] PDF
42. Mosing, M. A.†, Verweij, K. J. H.†, Madison, G., Pedersen, N. L., Zietsch, B. P., & Ullen, F. (2015). Did sexual selection shape human music? Testing predictions from the sexual selection hypothesis of music evolution using a large genetically informative sample of over 10,000 twins. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 359-366. [IF: 3.1] PDF
41. Lee, A. J. & Zietsch, B. P. (2015). Women's pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 249-255. [IF: 3.1] PDF
40. Mitchem, D. G., Zietsch, B. P., Wright, M. J., Martin, N. G., Hewitt, J. K., & Keller, M. C. (2015). No relationship between intelligence and facial attractiveness in a large, genetically informative sample. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 240-247. [IF: 3.1] PDF
39. Zietsch, B. P., Westberg, L., Santtila, P., & Jern, P. (2015). Genetic analysis of human extrapair mating: Heritability, between-sex correlation, and receptor genes for vasopressin and oxytocin. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 130-136. [IF: 3.1]. PDF
38. Zietsch, B. P., de Candia, T. R., & Keller, M. C. (2015). Evolutionary behavioral genetics. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 2, 73-80. PDF (invited review)
37. Haysom, H.J., Verweij, K.J.H., Zietsch, B.P., 2015. Evolutionary models of personality. In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 17. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 899–905.
36. Abdellaoui, A.†, Verweij, K. J. H.†, & Zietsch, B. P. (2014). No evidence for genetic assortative mating beyond that due to population stratification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [IF: 9.7] PDF
35.Verweij, K. J. H., Abdellaoui, A., Veijola, J., Sebert, S., Koiranen, M., Keller, M. C., Järvelin, M-R., & Zietsch, B. P. (2014). The association of genotype-based inbreeding coefficient with a range of physical and psychological human traits. PLoS One. [IF: 3.2] PDF
34.Verweij, K. J. H., Burri, A. V., & Zietsch, B. P. (2014). Testing the prediction from sexual selection of a positive genetic correlation between human mate preferences and corresponding traits. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 497-501. [IF: 3.1] PDF
33. Lee, A. J., Dubbs, S. L. von Hippel, W. Brooks, R. C. & Zietsch, B. P. (2014). A multivariate approach to human mate preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 193-203. [IF: 3.1] PDF
32. Zietsch, B. P., Kuja-Halkola, R., Walum, H. & Verweij, K. J. H. (2014) Perfect genetic correlation between number of offspring and grandoffspring in an industrialized human population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,111, 1032-1036. [IF: 9.7] PDF
31. Lee, A. J., Mitchem, D. G., Wright, M. J., Martin, N. G., Keller, M. C., & Zietsch, B. P. (2014) Genetic factors increasing male facial masculinity decrease facial attractiveness of female relatives. Psychological Science, 25, 476-484. (IF: 4.9) PDF
30. Mitchem, D. G., Purkey, A. M., Grebe, N. M., Carey, G., Garver-Apgar, C. E., Bates, T. C., Arden, R., Hewitt, J. K., Medland, S. E., Martin, N. G., Zietsch, B. P. & Keller, M. C. (2013). Estimating the sex-specific effects of genes on facial attractiveness and sexual dimorphism. Behavior Genetics, 44, 270-281. (IF: 3.2) PDF
16. Verweij, K. J. H., Zietsch, B. P., Liu, J. Z., Medland, S. E., Lynskey, M. T., Madden, P. A. F., Agrawal, A., Montgomery, G. W., Heath, A. C. & Martin, N. G. (2012). No association of candidate genes with cannabis use in a large sample of Australian twin families. Addiction Biology, 17, 687-690.(IF: 5.4) PDF
15. Powell, J. E.† & Zietsch, B. P.† (2011). Predicting sensation seeking from dopamine genes: Use and misuse of genetic prediction. Psychological Science, 22, 413-415. (IF: 4.9) PDF
---- Below are pre-PhD papers as a research assistant in neuroanatomy ---
IF = ISI Impact Factor (2014)
I’m interested in mate preferences and choices, mate value, physical attractiveness, intelligence, personality, sexual orientation, masculinity-femininity, sexual behaviour, and how these relate to sexual selection and the evolution of the human mind.
My supervision style is flexible. You will attend weekly lab meetings with the von Hippel lab group; however, one-on-one supervisory meetings can be organised weekly or as-needed depending on your preference. Data collection will take approximately 30 hours across the two semesters and will be collected in two teams of two using the SONA 1st year participant pool.
The projects below represent example theses for 2017. If you selected one of these, you would review the literature and come up with your own specific hypotheses for the project. Alternatively, we can discuss any other project ideas you may have that fit in with my research areas and methodology. If you'd like to talk about any of these options, don't hesitate to contact me. Alternatively, come and say hi at the supervisor meet and greet in January.
1. Do men produce and women appreciate humour?
Previous research has shown that the sexes place different emphases on the importance on humour. Allegedly, women prefer men who are funny and men prefer women who find them funny. However, a second line of research has demonstrated that people’s explicit preferences may not correspond to the implicit preferences they show when rating actual people. We suspect this may be the case with humour production and appreciation. For this project, you will have participants rate each other on ‘(s)he is funny’ and ‘(s)he finds me funny’ and see how this influences the extent to which they find each other attractive.
2. Do people prefer partners similar to themselves?
Assortative mating, the phenomenon whereby individuals mate with individuals who are similar to them, has been demonstrated for several physical and psychological traits. However, people’s mate preferences and mate choice do not always coincide, which raises the question of whether this is out of preference or compromise. While people’s explicit preferences for self-similarity have been tested previously, the implicit preferences they show when rating actual people have not. For this project, you would choose several key traits (physical and/or psychological) and investigate whether people find similarity based on these traits attractive.
3. What makes an attractive body?
In an evolutionary sense, the most important aspect of a potential partner is their ability to produce and rear healthy children. This should result in men favouring women with body dimensions that signal youth and fertility and women favouring men with body dimensions that signal genetic quality and capacity for protection. Though this area has been studied extensively, there is limited research that includes 1) ratings of men and 2) in-person ratings. For this project, you would use several key body dimensions to predict in-person ratings of bodily attractiveness from members of the opposite sex.
4. What makes an attractive face?
Many traits have been associated with facial attractiveness, these include symmetry, averageness, masculinity-femininity and more. Previous research has used facial analysis and ratings of photographs to better understand what makes a face attractive. However, it is not clear that these ratings of photographs accurately capture the attraction that might occur in person. For this project, you would collect photographs for facial analysis and compare participants’ masculinity/femininity with in-person ratings of facial attractiveness. There would also be scope to compare these in-person ratings to photograph ratings if you chose to do so.
All of these projects use a modified speed-dating paradigm. Participants complete a series of questionnaires regarding themselves and the other participants they speak to during the session. By using this ‘dyadic data’, we are able to go beyond self-report and gain insights into attraction from both perspectives. The data are analysed using multi-level modeling and you should therefore be fairly confident with statistics. For examples of previous projects using the speed-dating paradigm, please see these previous theses.