Maryanne L. Fisher

Faculty of Science

Affiliate Faculty, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University

Office: MS 329
Phone: 902-491-6275
Pronoun preference: She/Her/Hers

Maryanne L. Fisher, PhD is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and an Affiliated Faculty member at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. She is an award winning teacher, and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles mostly pertaining to women and evolutionary psychology. She edited the Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition (2017, Oxford University Press), and was lead editor on Evolution’s Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women (2013, Oxford University Press). Her current primary areas of investigation are women’s intrasexual competition for mates, mothering, women’s cooperative alliances, and interpersonal relationships in general. She is deeply interested in the ways that feminism(s), women studies, and gender studies lead to novel questions about evolutionary psychology.

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Maryanne Fisher, Ph.D. →

I have several projects that are currently underway.

  1. Evolutionary views of mothering. There exists a tension between cooperative mothering, whereby women pool resources to help each other, and competitive mothering, in which mothers are engaged in a rivalry for scarce resources. I am working on research to better understand this tension, with a focus of the parallels between the friendship literature and cooperative parenting.
  2. Understanding romance in popular media. Given that depictions of romance have changed considerably over time, I am now turning my focus toward new media and how romance (and sexuality) are shown and consumed.
  3. Women's intrasexual mating competition. This line of research has been the foundation for all of my work, and I continue to develop new experiments in this area. I am now also turning toward more theoretical work that help position women's rivalry more strongly within the context of current findings.

Collectively, my research interests are directed at providing insight into why humans interact in particular ways, given the local environmental context. My doctoral research is where I began my investigation into women's same-sex mating competition. I have explored various facets of this competition - hormonal, the influence of romantic relationship status, active mate seeking, the attractiveness of rivals, and so on.

Over the last years, there has been a dramatic increase in research on this topic, and while I am interested in filling gaps in our understanding with empirical work, I am moving toward more theoretical-based publications that knit together many different findings to provide a more holistic, comprehensive view. A significant part of my work on women's competition for mates is directed at understanding interpersonal relationships more fully. Thus, I have studied temporal change in online dating, the dynamics of maintaining or ending romantic relationships, the influence of actively seeking a mate on views toward others, for example. I also explore correlates of physical attractiveness, as part of this body of work.

Further, I am working with colleagues to expand my research into food studies, and how our decisions about food are connected with our social lives. Another area that I am interested in pursuing is how evolutionary psychology and the feminisms are distinct yet similar. In association with this topic, I have begun to explore gender studies more fully to try to identify specific areas for future work in the field. Last, I have studied popular culture from an evolutionary psychological perspective for several years. These investigations include analysis of paintings, recipe books, song lyrics, romance novels, and television shows. I am turning toward recent media and working with students to explore how previous findings map onto new apps.

Ph.D. (2004) – Psychology – York University

M.Sc. (1999) – Psychology – McMaster University

B.A. summa cum laude (1997) – Psychology – York University

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