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Dr Bronwyn Tarr


Bronwyn is a human behavioural scientist interested in the evolution of social behaviours, particularly music and dance.

Bronwyn completed her DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford, where she has continued her research in evolutionary anthropology and psychology.

Bronwyn - Faculty - LIS


Evolutionary Biology



I really, really love that spark that can click in someone’s eye when you get them to think about something that they’ve not ever thought about before.

Bronwyn - Faculty - LIS

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Bronwyn joins LIS from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, and the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, both based at the University of Oxford.

Bronwyn is originally from Namibia and studied Evolutionary Biodiversity and Zoology at the University of Cape Town. She holds a masters degree in Environmental Change and Management and a DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology, both from Oxford. She is also trained in fine art, classical ballet, contemporary and Latin dance.

Before going to Oxford, Bronwyn studied animal behaviour and became interested in the evolution of cooperation. Following this, Bronwyn’s doctorate investigated the psychological and physiological effects of group dance, with an aim of understanding evolutionary theories of humans’ love-affair with music and movement. Her work combines her passion for dance with her curiosity about human nature and the evolution of sociality, drawing on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience. More broadly, Bronwyn is interested in research relating to health and well-being, educational psychology, and anthropological accounts of group rituals.

A believer in Open Science, Bronwyn has delivered a number of interactive public talks, Café Scientifique lectures, spoken on radio and podcasts, worked on screen as a Scientific consultant for BBC, and written popular science articles on her research.

Some of Bronwyn’s work can be found here:

– A short video by Aeon on her work: ‘Dance, dance evolution
– Oxford University interview: ‘How to live a happy life
– A podcast and video: BBC World Service Crowd Science: ‘Why do Humans Dance
– A popular science talk: Keynote speaker at Rhodes Retreat on Service and Leadership: ‘Science and Social Cooperation’ 
– PRX podcast: PRX podcast: ‘Dance, it’s only human
– A popular science article: ‘Let’s Dance! Synchronised movement helps us tolerate pain and foster friendship

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