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Ian Stephen

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)


Senior Lecturer

Career overview

I joined NTU as a senior lecturer in October 2021. Before that, I held academic positions at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) and The University of Nottingham (Malaysia) and research posts at the University of Bristol and the University of St Andrews. I hold a BSc (Hons) from UCL, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of St Andrews.

Research areas

My research focuses on person perception, which I approach from two main angles:

1. I am interested in understanding what aspects of physiology and psychology are reflected in our faces and bodies, and how our brains extract this information to form judgements. For example, is our health reflected in cues in our faces and bodies, and how do we use those cues to form perceptions of health and attractiveness?

2. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that underlie our perceptions of our own and others' bodies. By understanding how these perceptions are formed, updated and maintained, we aim to provide the scientific basis for new treatments for body image disturbance and related mental health issues such as body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and muscle dysmorphia.

I have supervised projects on these topics at undergraduate, honours, masters, and PhD level, and would be interested in hearing from prospective students with interests in these areas.

External activity


Brooks, K. R., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. D. (2021). Over or under? Mental representations and the paradox of body size estimation. Frontiers in Psychology12, 1-5. [706313].

Wang, K., Goldenberg, A., Dorison, C. A., Miller, J. K., Uusberg, A., Lerner, J. S., Gross, J. J., Agesin, B. B., Bernardo, M., Campos, O., Eudave, L., Grzech, K., Ozery, D. H., Jackson, E. A., Garcia, E. O. L., Drexler, S. M., Jurković, A. P., Rana, K., Wilson, J. P., ... Moshontz, H. (2021). A multi-country test of brief reappraisal interventions on emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Human Behaviour

Antar, J. C., & Stephen, I. D. (2021). Facial shape provides a valid cue to sociosexuality in men but not women. Evolution and Human Behavior42(4), 361-370.

Zopf, R., Kosourikhina, V., Brooks, K. R., Polito, V., & Stephen, I. D. (2021). Visual body-size adaptation and estimation of tactile distance. British Journal of Psychology

Hsieh, J. Y. J., Gwinn, O. S., Brooks, K. R., Stephen, I. D., Carragher, D. J., & Nicholls, M. E. R. (2021). The “cheerleader effect” in facial and bodily attractiveness: a result of memory bias and not perceptual encoding. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology74(5), 972-980.

Wong, H. K., Estudillo, A. J., Stephen, I. D., & Keeble, D. R. T. (2021). The other-race effect and holistic processing across racial groups. Scientific Reports11(1), 1-15. [8507].

Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., Flake, J. K., Liuzza, M. T., Antfolk, J., Arinze, N. C., Ndukaihe, I. L. G., Bloxsom, N. G., Lewis, S. C., Foroni, F., Willis, M. L., Cubillas, C. P., Vadillo, M. A., Turiegano, E., Gilead, M., Simchon, A., Saribay, S. A., Owsley, N. C., Jang, C., ... Coles, N. A. (2021). To which world regions does the valence–dominance model of social perception apply? Nature Human Behaviour5(1), 159-169.

Brooks, K. R., Keen, E., Sturman, D., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. D. (2020). Muscle and fat aftereffects and the role of gender: implications for body image disturbance. British Journal of Psychology111(4), 742-761.

Sulikowski, D., Tan, K. W., Jones, A. L., Welling, L. L. M., & Stephen, I. D. (2020). Editorial: perceptions of people: cues to underlying physiology and psychology. Frontiers in Psychology11, 1-2. [643].

Wong, H. K., Stephen, I. D., & Keeble, D. R. T. (2020). The own-race bias for face recognition in a multiracial society. Frontiers in Psychology11, 1-16. [208].

Brooks, K. R., Mond, J., Mitchison, D., Stevenson, R. J., Challinor, K. L., & Stephen, I. D. (2020). Looking at the figures: visual adaptation as a mechanism for body-size and -shape misperception. Perspectives on Psychological Science15(1), 133-149.

Gould-Fensom, L., Tan, C. B. Y., Brooks, K. R., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. D. (2019). The thin white line: adaptation suggests a common neural mechanism for judgments of Asian and Caucasian body size. Frontiers in Psychology10, 1-9. [2532].

Brooks, K. R., Baldry, E., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., Mitchison, D., & Stephen, I. D. (2019). Gender and the body size aftereffect: implications for neural processing. Frontiers in Neuroscience13, 1-11. [1100].

Mahmut, M. K., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. (2019). Do women love their partner's smell? Exploring women's preferences for and identification of male partner and non-partner body odor. Physiology and Behavior210, 1-6. [112517].

Wong, H. K., & Stephen, I. D. (2019). Eye tracker as an implied social presence: awareness of being eye-tracked induces social-norm-based looking behaviour. Journal of Eye Movement Research12(2), 1-17. [5].

Tan, K. W., & Stephen, I. D. (2019). Skin color preferences in a Malaysian Chinese population. Frontiers in Psychology10(JUN), 1-6. [1352].

Stephen, I. D., Hunter, K., Sturman, D., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Brooks, K. R. (2019). Experimental manipulation of visual attention affects body size adaptation but not body dissatisfaction. International Journal of Eating Disorders52(1), 79-87.

Roberts, M. (Developer), Brooks, K. (Designer), Mitchison, D. (Designer), Stephen, I. (Author), Zhang, M. (Author), & Bashu, V. U. (Author). (2018). Body Perception Survey plugin. Software, Macquarie University.

Brooks, K., Clifford, C. W. G., Stevenson, R. J., Mond, J., & Stephen, I. D. (2018). The high level basis of body adaptation. Royal Society Open Science5(6), 1-9. [172103].

Tan, K. W., Tiddeman, B., & Stephen, I. D. (2018). Skin texture and colour predict perceived health in Asian faces. Evolution and Human Behavior39(3), 320-335.

Stephen, I. D., Sturman, D., Stevenson, R. J., Mond, J., & Brooks, K. R. (2018). Visual attention mediates the relationship between body satisfaction and susceptibility to the body size adaptation effect. PLoS ONE13(1), 1-14. [e0189855].

Longman, D. P., Prall, S. P., Shattuck, E. C., Stephen, I. D., Stock, J. T., Wells, J. C. K., & Muehlenbein, M. P. (2018). Short-term resource allocation during extensive athletic competition. American Journal of Human Biology30(1), 1-11. [e23052].

Stephen, I. D., Salter, D. L. H., Tan, K. W., Tan, C. B. Y., & Stevenson, R. J. (2018). Sexual dimorphism and attractiveness in Asian and White faces. Visual Cognition26(6), 442-449.

Challinor, K. L., Mond, J., Stephen, I. D., Mitchison, D., Stevenson, R. J., Hay, P., & Brooks, K. R. (2017). Body size and shape misperception and visual adaptation: an overview of an emerging research paradigm. Journal of International Medical Research45(6), 2001-2008.

Stephen, I. D., Hiew, V., Coetzee, V., Tiddeman, B. P., & Perrett, D. I. (2017). Facial shape analysis identifies valid cues to aspects of physiological health in Caucasian, Asian, and African populations. Frontiers in Psychology8, 1-10. [1883].

Tan, K. W., Graf, B. A., Mitra, S. R., & Stephen, I. D. (2017). Impact of fresh fruit smoothie consumption on apparent health of Asian faces. Evolution and Human Behavior38(4), 522-529.

Teoh, Y., Wallis, E., Stephen, I. D., & Mitchell, P. (2017). Seeing the world through others’ minds: inferring social context from behaviour. Cognition159, 48-60.

Sturman, D., Stephen, I. D., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Brooks, K. R. (2017). Independent Aftereffects of Fat and Muscle: implications for neural encoding, body space representation, and body image disturbance. Scientific Reports7, 1-8. [40392].

Zuniga, A., Stevenson, R. J., Mahmut, M. K., & Stephen, I. D. (2017). Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor. Evolution and Human Behavior38(1), 136-143.

Stephen, I. D., Burke, D., & Sulikowski, D. (2017). Tinbergen's "four questions" provides a formal framework for a more complete understanding of prosocial biases in favour of attractive people. Behavioral and Brain Sciences40, 38-39. [e44].

Stephen, I., Burke, D., & Sulikowski, D. (2017). Carruthers on massive modularity. In Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science Springer, Springer Nature.

Burke, D., Sulikowski, D., Stephen, I., & Brooks, R. (2017). Inconsistent with the data: support for the CLASH model depends on the wrong kind of latitude. Behavioral and Brain Sciences40, 16-17. [e80].

Stephen, I. D., Bickersteth, C., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Brooks, K. R. (2016). No effect of featural attention on body size aftereffects. Frontiers in Psychology7, 1-9. [1223].

Brooks, K. R., Sturman, D., Mond, J., Stevenson, R., & Stephen, I. (2016). The neural encoding of bodies along the dimensions of fat and muscle. Perception45(S2), 83.

Brierley, M. E., Brooks, K. R., Mond, J., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. D. (2016). The body and the beautiful: health, attractiveness and body composition in men's and women's bodies. PLoS ONE11(6), 1-16. [e0156722].

Tan, C. B. Y., Sheppard, E., & Stephen, I. D. (2016). Recognizing Dynamic Faces in Malaysian Chinese Participants. Perception45(3), 300-314.

Brooks, K. R., Mond, J. M., Stevenson, R. J., & Stephen, I. D. (2016). Body image distortion and exposure to extreme body types: Contingent adaptation and cross adaptation for self and other. Frontiers in Neuroscience10, 1-10. [334].

Tan, C. B. Y., Sheppard, E., & Stephen, I. D. (2015). A change in strategy: Static emotion recognition in Malaysian Chinese. Cogent Psychology2(1), 1-14. [1085941].

Brooks, K., Stephen, I., Murley, A., Mond, J., & Stevenson, D. (2015). Representation of body size for self and other: simple-, cross- and contingent adaptation. Perception44(S1), 188.

Keeble, D., Wong, H. K., & Stephen, I. (2015). The Own-Race Bias for Face Recognition in Malaysians and Whites. Perception44(S1), 23-23.

Tan, K. W., Graf, B. A., Mitra, S. R., & Stephen, I. D. (2015). Daily consumption of a fruit and vegetable smoothie alters facial skin color. PLoS ONE10(7), 1-14. [e0133445].

Van den Abbeele, J., Penton-Voak, I. S., Attwood, A. S., Stephen, I. D., & Munafò, M. R. (2015). Increased facial attractiveness following moderate, but not high, alcohol consumption. Alcohol and Alcoholism50(3), 296-301. [agv010].

Stephen, I. D., & Wei, T. K. (2015). Healthy body, healthy face? Evolutionary approaches to attractiveness perception. In S. Haque, & E. Sheppard (Eds.), Culture and Cognition: A Collection of Critical Essays (pp. 45-65). Peter Lang AG.

Stephen, I. D., & Perrett, D. I. (2015). Color and face perception. In A. J. Elliot, M. D. Fairchild, & A. Franklin (Eds.), Handbook of color psychology (pp. 585-602). Cambridge University Press.

Stephen, I. D., Mahmut, M. K., Case, T. I., Fitness, J., & Stevenson, R. J. (2014). The uniquely predictive power of evolutionary approaches to mind and behavior. Frontiers in Psychology5, 1-3. [1372].

Stephen, I. D. (2014). Putting the theory before the data: is "massive modularity" a necessary foundation of evolutionary psychology? Frontiers in Psychology5, 1-2. [1158].

Coetzee, V., Greeff, J. M., Stephen, I. D., & Perrett, D. I. (2014). Cross-cultural agreement in facial attractiveness preferences: The role of ethnicity and gender. PLoS ONE9(7), 1-8. [e99629].

Stephen, I. D., & Perera, A. T. M. (2014). Judging the differences between women's attractiveness and health: Is there really a difference between judgments made by men and women? Body Image11(2), 183-186.

Stephen, I. D., & Perera, A. T. M. (2014). Judging the difference between attractiveness and health: Does exposure to model images influence the judgments made by men and women? PLoS ONE9(1), 1-8. [e86302].

Stephen, I. D. (2013). Applied evolutionary psychology. British Journal of Psychology104(3), 438-439.

Tan, K. W., & Stephen, I. D. (2013). Colour detection thresholds in faces and colour patches. Perception42(7), 733-741.

Stephen, I. D. (2013). On aims and methods of facial attractiveness research: the lasting influence of Tinbergen (1963). Human ethology bulletin28(4), 31-38.

Danel, D. P., Fedurek, P., Coetzee, V., Stephen, I. D., Nowak, N., Stirrat, M., Perrett, D. I., & Saxton, T. K. (2012). A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Population-Specific Face Shape Preferences (Homo sapiens). Ethology118(12), 1173-1181.

Whitehead, R. D., Ozakinci, G., Stephen, I. D., & Perrett, D. I. (2012). Whitehead et al. respond. American Journal of Public Health102(10), e3-e4.

Park, J. H., van Leeuwen, F., & Stephen, I. D. (2012). Homeliness is in the disgust sensitivity of the beholder: Relatively unattractive faces appear especially unattractive to individuals higher in pathogen disgust. Evolution and Human Behavior33(5), 569-577.

Stephen, I. D. (2012). New directions in colour studies. British Journal of Psychology103, 428-438.

Stephen, I. D., Scott, I. M. L., Coetzee, V., Pound, N., Perrett, D. I., & Penton-Voak, I. S. (2012). Cross-cultural effects of color, but not morphological masculinity, on perceived attractiveness of men's faces. Evolution and Human Behavior33(4), 260-267.

Whitehead, R. D., Ozakinci, G., Stephen, I. D., & Perrett, D. I. (2012). Appealing to vanity: Could potential appearance improvement motivate fruit and vegetable consumption? American Journal of Public Health102(2), 207-211.

Tan, C. B. Y., Stephen, I. D., Whitehead, R., & Sheppard, E. (2012). You look familiar: how Malaysian Chinese recognize faces. PLoS ONE7(1), 1-4. [e29714].

Stephen, I. D., Oldham, F. H., Perrett, D. I., & Barton, R. A. (2012). Redness enhances perceived aggression, dominance and attractiveness in men's faces. Evolutionary Psychology10(3), 562-572.

Stephen, I. D., Coetzee, V., & Perrett, D. I. (2011). Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior32(3), 216-227.

Perrett, D. I., Re, D., Whitehead, R., Stephen, I., Coetzee, V., Lefevre, C., Moore, A. F., Xiao, D., & Ozakinci, G. (2011). Face colour, health, lifestyle and attractiveness. Perception40(S1), 23-24.

Coetzee, V., Chen, J., Perrett, D. I., & Stephen, I. D. (2010). Deciphering faces: Quantifiable visual cues to weight. Perception39(1), 51-61.

Scott, I. M. L., Pound, N., Stephen, I. D., Clark, A. P., & Penton-Voak, I. S. (2010). Does masculinity matter? The contribution of masculine face shape to male attractiveness in humans. PLoS ONE5(10), 1-10. [e13585].

Stephen, I. D., & McKeeganh, A. M. (2010). Lip colour affects perceived sex typicality and attractiveness of human faces. Perception39(8), 1104-1110.

Stephen, I. D., Law Smith, M. J., Stirrat, M. R., & Perrett, D. I. (2009). Facial skin coloration affects perceived health of human faces. International Journal of Primatology30(6), 845-857.

Stephen, I. D., Coetzee, V., Law Smith, M. J., & Perrett, D. I. (2009). Skin blood perfusion and oxygenation colour affect perceived human health. PLoS ONE4(4), 1-7. [e5083].

Coetzee, V., Perrett, D. I., & Stephen, I. D. (2009). Facial adiposity: A cue to health? Perception38(11), 1700-1711.

Course(s) I teach on

  • Students sitting at desk using pc's
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2022

  • Students sitting at desk using pc's
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2021