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Durham University

Research & business

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Dr Joseph Stubbersfield

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology

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My research focuses on how cognitive biases influence both the content and propogation of narratives, in particular urban legends and conspiracy theories. My research draws on the fields of cultural evolution, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology and social learning. I studied Psychology at Manchester University (2005-2008) before completing a Master's degree in Evolutionary Psychology at Liverpool University (2010). My PhD was completed at Durham University (2014), with a thesis on the cultural evolution and transmission of urban legends. I then worked in the School of Biology at St Andrews University as a postdoctoral research fellow examing how the moral content of stories influences their social transmission. My most recent work at Durham University examined the propogation of health-related conspiracy theories, including field work in Sri Lanka.

Research Groups

Evolutionary Anthropology

Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Cognitive anthropology
  • Cultural evolution and transmission
  • Social learning
  • Creativity, storytelling behaviour and oral traditions
  • Folklore, myth and legends, particularly contemporary folklore

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

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