Dr Barnaby Dixson | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Barnaby Dixson

PhD. BehEcol VUW, B.A UCSC

  • Lecturer, Psychology
  • School of Health
+61 423 701 211
Office location
Moreton Bay
Barnaby Dixson

Dr Barnaby Dixson is an anthropologist with the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research (ACPIR). He has a career working in social sciences, evolutionary ecology, and social psychology departments, including 15 years’ experience leading research projects in the Pacific, spanning gender and sexuality, partner preferences and health, and family life and child development. Barnaby conducted field research in Samoa during his doctoral research (2006-2010) on body image and gender, then established field research sites in Vanuatu (Efate, Santo, and Tanna) where he conducted research on social networks, health, and child cognition (2012-present). He has also collaborated on research projects in Papua New Guinea (2008-2010) and the Solomon Islands (2018) on family health and social networks.

Barnaby's research involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative cross-cultural data collection in small-scale societies, behavioral research in the lab and demographic analyses that currently span three research areas:

  1. Maternal and child health: Barnaby works with the Growing Up in New Zealand Project measuring how social, psychological and biological factors influence women’s health during pregnancy and the subsequent health and development of their babies. He is also a member of the MaMi Project team, investigating maternal micronutrient availability and impacts in Vanuatu.
  2. Paternal mental health: Barnaby works with the Queensland Family Cohort quantifying the effects of peri-natal and post-natal depression in fathers on the health and family well-being.
  3. Experimental psychology: Working with developmental and cognitive psychologists Barnaby aims to better understand how perceptions of facial expressions manifest using explicit ratings, viewing time paradigms, eye-tracking and EEG.

Barnaby coordinates 2nd and 3rd year courses in research methods and statistics and intercultural psychology.

Professional Social Media

Professional Membership

  • International Academy of Sex Research (IASR)
  • Fellow of the Behavioural and Brain Sciences Foundation

Awards / Fellowships

  • 2016 Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year 
  • 2015 - 2019 UQ Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Queensland
  • 2012 - 2015 UNSW Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Queensland
  • 2011 Doctoral Thesis Award, Victoria University of Wellington (2011)
  • 2007 New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship 

Professional Social Media

Research Grants

Grant/Project name


Funding body & A$ value


Focus (of research grant)

UQ School of Psychology Research Excellence Grant

B Dixson, N Nelson and A Pegna

The University of Queensland;  $10,000


EEG and face perceptions

The MaMi Project: Investigating maternal micronutrient availability and impacts in Vanuatu

G Kafer (lead), B Dixson and R Thurecht

Partners: The Vanuatu Ministry of Health (J Stephens, R Turi, M Cornish and N Hinge).

UniSC Launch Partnership Grant


2023 - 2024

Maternal and child health

UQ HaBS/MaBS collaborative grant

B Dixson and G Mishra

The University of Queensland, $40,00


Maternal health and child development

UQ Post-Doctoral Fellowship

B Dixson

The University of Queensland, $347,995


Masculinity and male attractiveness

Science Silver Star Grant

B Dixson

The University of New South Wales


Genetics and sexual signalling

Australian Research Council, Discovery Grant

B Dixson and R Brooks

Australian Research Council; $334,000


Sexual selection and human evolution

New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship

B Dixson

NZAID; $80,000


Cross-cultural studies of human attractiveness

Potential Research Projects For HDR & Honours Students

  • Mental health and fatherhood
  • Body image, gender, and partner preferences
  • The MaMi Project: Investigating maternal micronutrient availability and impacts in the Western Pacific

Research areas

  • Evolutionary theory and sexual selection
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Face perception
  • Body image
  • Mental health and fatherhood

Teaching areas

  • Intercultural and Indigenous Psychology
  • Research methods and statistics

Research publications

  • Dixson, B. J., Borg, D., Rae, K. M., Whittingha, K., Gannon, B., McPhail, S. M., ... & Clifton, V. L. 2022. The social predictors of paternal antenatal mental health and their associations with maternal mental health in the Queensland Family Cohort prospective study. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 1-10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00737-022-01257-1 
  • Dixson, B.J.W. 2021. Sexual selection and the evolution of human appearance enhancements. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
  • Dixson, B. J. 2021. Masculinity and femininity. In Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (pp. 4816-4821). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-19650-3_3389 
  • Craig, B. M., Nelson, N. L., & Dixson B. J. W. 2019. Sexual selection, agonistic signalling, and the effect of beards on men’s anger displays. Psychological Science, 30, 728-738.
  • Neldner, K., Redshaw, J., Murphy, S., Tomaselli, K., Davis, J.,Dixson, B., & Nielsen, M. 2019. Creation across culture: Children’s tool innovation is influenced by cultural and developmental factors. Developmental Psychology, 55, 877. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fdev0000672 
  • Dixson, H. G., Komugabe‐Dixson, A. F., Dixson, B. J., & Low, J. 2018. Scaling theory of mind in a small‐scale society: A case study from Vanuatu. Child Development, 89, 2157-2175. https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cdev.12919 
  • Petterson, L. J., Dixson, B. J., Little, A. C., & Vasey, P. L. 2018. Viewing time and self-report measures of sexual attraction in Samoan cisgender and transgender androphilic males. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 2427-2434. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1267-7 
  • Dixson, B. J., Little, A. C., Dixson, H. G., & Brooks, R. C. 2017. Do prevailing environmental factors influence human preferences for facial morphology?. Behavioral Ecology, 28, 1217-1227. https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/28/5/1217/3924273 
  • Brooks R. C., Jordan, A.L., Shelly, J., Dixson B. J. 2015. The multivariate evolution of female body shape in an artificial digital ecosystem. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 351-358.
  • Dixson, B.J.W., Blake, K.R., Denson, T.F., Gouda-Vossos, A., Sulikowski, D., Rantala, M.J., Brooks, R.C. 2018. The role of mating context and fecundability in women’s preferences for men’s facial masculinity and beardedness. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 93, 90-102.
  • Singh, D., Dixson, B. J., Jessop, T. S., Morgan, B., & Dixson, A. F. 2010. Cross-cultural consensus for waist-to-hip ratio and women’s attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 176-181.
  • Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., Flake, J. K., Liuzza, M. T., Antfolk, J., Arinze, N. C., ... & Sirota, M. 2021. To which world regions does the valence–dominance model of social perception apply? Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 159-169.