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What I do

I am a Differential Psychologist, working on understanding people and society through individual differences. I mainly use behavior and molecular genetic designs to this, particularly, the twin study. I have expertise cognition, including reading, and in personality and social behaviour. We've done a little brain imaging on the side, along with measures such as symmetry. My google scholar profile is here. A pdf word cloud of topics and co-authors is here

What we've found out about the mind

  • Language
    • ROBO1 is a gene for the phonological loop component of the human language system.
    • There are at least two genetically distinct forms of dyslexia: one affecting learning the to decode letters into sounds, the other building a sight-vocabulary for rapid reading for meaning.
    • The genetics of reading disorder is identical in normal and severe cases.
    • We've also found gene mutations that affect language: A mutation in DYX1C1 is associated with poor reading, as are changes in KIAA0319 and DCDC2.
  • Memory
    • We showed that a mutation in KIBRA specifically affects forgetting information (independent of initial learning).
  • In Education we found that
      • Education raises IQ scores
      • Learning to read raises IQ
      • Getting better at math raises IQ
      • Being born into a richer family help IQ genes express themselves in your IQ in the USA
      • Australia is the lucky country (for IQ): genes are really highly expressed in Australia, independent of social class… pretty impressive really.
      • Education doesn't lower Reaction_time: which we followed up to show that
      • Education doesn't raise General_cognitive_ability: Instead it raises specific capabilities. So go to school to get smart!
  • Intelligence
    • Breastfeeding
      • We found that breastfeeding does not raise IQ, even in interaction with the common Fatty acid desaturase mutation in the FADS2 gene.
    • Symmetry
      • Intelligence is linked to symmetry. Symmetry is not linked to personality.
      • Like cognition, symmetry improves across development until early adolescence.
      • Early childhood deprivation leaves a mark in facial symmetry.
      • In old age, facial symmetry predicts rate of cognitive decline.
    • Reaction Time: We showed that, controlling for stimulus availability, IQ is associated with the slope of reaction time on the Jensen Box.
      • Bates, T. C. and Stough, C. (1998). Improved Reaction Time Method, Information Processing Speed, and Intelligence. Intelligence, 26. 53-62. doi.
    • Intelligence and religion: Gary Lewis, Stuart Ritchie and Tim Bates study was reported in, for instance, The New Zealand Herald this week with their study linking higher intelligence to reduced levels of fundamentalism.
    • Music and smoking. We showed that Music, even glorious Mozart, does not raise IQ, but that smoking does.
    • Complexity We found support for attentional and string length models of intelligence, relating these to the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine
      • Bates, T. C. and Stough, C. (1997). Processing speed, attention, and intelligence: Effects of spatial attention on decisions time in high and low IQ subjects. Personality & Individual Differences, 23. 861-868.
    • We continue to search for genes for intelligence, with no success :-),
    • I have tried to synthesis these results and others toward a theory of school and education.
  • Neuropsychology
    • With Laura Hughes, we distinguished what people see (indexed by pointing) and what they grasp (indexed by picking up)
  • Personality and Positive_Psychology
    • Wellbeing: We showed that the genes for happiness are personality genes for the 5FM
    • Schizotypy
      • With Viviana Wuthrich, we showed this has a three-factor structure, mapping onto that of schizophrenia, relating this to latent inhibition and to smooth pursuit eye movement disorder
      • With Ulrich Ettinger and Christine Macare we showed that genetic origins of magical ideation appear to lie in neuroticism and mania. Christine won best student prize for her research on the genetic architecture of schizotypal personality at ISSID in London 2011 for this work.
      • I also found support for a perceptual imprecision model of schizophrenia.
    • Extraversion: With Andrew Rock, we confirmed the arousal model of Extraversion, showing that Extraverts perform most intelligently when in a noisy environment (which raises arousal), while ambiverts perform best with a moderate level of arousal, and introvert's performance declines with any noise (not sound, but noise: uninformative energy) in the environment.
    • Openness: With Alex Shieles, we showed that openness is linked to knowledge, but not linked to information processing bases of intelligence.
  • Politics
    • With Gary Lewis, we showed how personality affects how we vote – working indirectly via a set of five core moral values (see Jonathan Haidt to learn more about these values).
    • With Geraint Rees and Ryota Kanai, Gary and I showed that there is a biological substrate for these 5 core moral patterns.
    • With Gary Lewis and Stuart Ritchie, we found that psychometric intelligence reduces the levels of fundamentalist belief amongst religious people. This received news coverage.

Some other helpful pages


Past Students

Full CV here