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Durham University

Research & business

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Professor Mike Nicholson, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD

Professor (Teaching) in Marketing, Associate Dean (Specialist Masters Programmes) in the Business School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 45329
Room number: MHL504

Contact Professor Mike Nicholson


Mike joined the University full-time in 2001, following a successful career in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. He continues to work with a number of leading FMCG brands, delivering applied research projects and an award-winning style of teaching that fuse academic rigour with real-world business practice.

An evolutionary psychologist, Mike is interested in consumer interactions with the products and services of everyday life, and with the marketing of those products and services. There are two distinct streams to this work. The first investigates how consumers respond – psychologically and physiologically – to the shopping environment and the ways in which those largely unconscious responses are shaped by the brain’s evolutionary heritage. The second and more controversial stream focuses on the so-called ‘dark side’ of consumer behaviour, exploring the evolutionary origins of a range of potentially problematic consumption practices such as counterfeiting, compulsive buying, shoplifting, and participation in deviant leisure activities. A recurrent theme throughout both streams of work, however, has been the specific issue of psychological sex differences and the biological bases of female and male consumer choice variations.

Mike contributes to a number of modules in consumer psychology across the School’s undergraduate and postgraduate portfolios. Externally, in addition to recent projects with brands such as Samsung, Jack Daniels, Vodafone, NEXT and Urban Decay, he works with organisations such as AASCB International, the Chartered Association of Business Schools and the UK National Commission for UNESCO. Mike is also External Examiner for behavioural sciences at Warwick Business School.

Research Groups

Business School

Research Interests

  • The Darwinian roots of consumption phenomena
  • Evolutionary consumer psychology
  • Neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience
  • Sex differences in consumer behaviour
  • Biophobia in consumer research
  • Illicit consumption, consumer 'misbehaviour' and deviant leisure


Journal Article


  • Xiao, S.H., Iyer, G. & Nicholson, M. (2013), Impulsivity and Impulse Buying: A Cross-National Examination, EMAC 2013 Conference, ITU. Istanbul, Turkey., Istanbul.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2009), Social Marketing: Contributions from Evolutionary Psychology, International Symposium on Social Marketing and Behavioural Change. Durham University, Durham University.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2008), Symposium: Old Wine in New Bottles? Social Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Analysis, British Academy of Management Conference. Harrogate, UK., Harrogate.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2007), Consumer Channel Choice as an Operant Process, 5th International Conference on Business, Economics, Management & Marketing. Athens, Greece., Athens.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2007), Evolutionary Psychology and the Behavioural Perspective Model, 1st International Symposium on Consumer Behaviour Analysis. Cardiff, UK, Cardiff.
  • Xiao, S.H. & Nicholson, M. (2007), Luxury for the Masses: An Exploratory Study on New Luxury Brands Consumption in China, 3rd Annual Colloquium of the Academy of Marketing's Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest Group. London, UK, London.
  • Xiao S.H. & Nicholson, M. (2007), Trick or Treat? An Examination of Marketing Relationships in a Non-deceptive Counterfeit Marketplace, 5th International Conference on Business, Economics, Management & Marketing. Athens, Greece., Athens.
  • Xiao, S.H. & Nicholson, M. (2004), Faking It! Consumer Behaviour towards Counterfeit Goods in China, 2nd International Conference on Business, Economics, Management & Marketing. Athens, Greece., Athens.
  • Hindmarsh, S. & Nicholson, M. (2004), Toys for Boys and the Girl Game Jinx: Sex differences in computer gaming, 2nd International Conference on Business, Economics, Management & Marketing. Athens, Greece., Athens.
  • Nicholson, M., Clarke, I. & Blakemore, M. (2001), Multichannel Consumer Behaviour in the Retail Fashion Sector, 11th International Conference on Research in the Distributive Trades. Tilburg, NL., Tilburg NL.

Working Paper