Welcome to my website

This site contains information about my research and related activities. You will also find links to my publications, blog posts and other web profiles.

My research

My research is centred on socioeconomic inequalities in health and wellbeing. I investigate how structural inequalities affect behaviours which, subsequently, affect health and longevity. I use evolutionary behavioural theory, and observational and experimental data to examine differences in psychology, health and social behaviour, and biomarkers of health and ageing. I’m particularly interested in the effects of perceived extrinsic mortality risk on health behaviour, and the effects of food insecurity on metabolism and behaviour.

My current role

I am a psychology lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University, where I am a member of both the Healthy Living Lab, and the Perception Evolution & Behaviour Lab (PEBL). I’m an active member of the International Society for Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health, among other societies such as EHBEA and UKSBM. I also work with Newton’s Apple, as a member of their board of Trustees.

My background

After studying as an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, I won an Interdisciplinary Bridging Award in order to continue my undergraduate research on morning sickness. I then went on to gain experience in science policy and communication. I undertook work experience with the BBC Specialist Factual Unit (TV), and with BBC Focus Magazine. I worked for Newton’s Apple as a Policy and Project Manager and later as their Director. I spent 2 years working as a Communications Manager at the Department of Health, while I completed my MSc in Evolutionary Psychology at Brunel University. I was awarded my PhD in behavioural sciences from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University in 2015. I went on to work as a visiting postdoctoral scholar with the Newcastle City Council Public Health Team, then joined the Newcastle Institute of Health and Society, where I spent 2015 working as a postdoc in the Health Psychology group with Vera Araujo-Soares. From 2016-2018, I worked with Daniel Nettle and Melissa Bateson, in their COMSTAR lab – an exciting ERC-funded project in the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution at Newcastle University.

Selected publications:

  • Preprint: Brown, R. D., Coventry, L., & Pepper, G. V. (2020). COVID-19: the relationship between perceptions of risk and behaviours during lockdown. [Link]
  • Pepper G. V., Bateson, M., Nettle D. (2018) Telomeres as integrative markers of exposure to stress and adversity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Royal Society Open Science. 5: 180744. [Link]
  • Pepper, G.V. & Nettle, D. (2017) Strengths, altered investment, risk management, and other elaborations on the behavioural constellation of deprivation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40 (e346) [Link].
  • Pepper, G.V. & Nettle, D. (2017) The Behavioural Constellation of Deprivation: Causes and consequences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40 (e346) [Link].
  • McAllister, L.S., Pepper, G.V., Virgo, S. & Coall, D. A. (2016) The Evolved Psychological Mechanisms of Fertility Motivation: Hunting for Causation in a Sea of Correlation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B [PDF]
  • Pepper, G.V. & Nettle, D. (2014) Out of control mortality matters: the effect of perceived uncontrollable mortality risk on a health-related decision.  PeerJ 2:e459 [PDF]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2014) Perceived extrinsic mortality risk and health behaviour: Testing a behavioural ecological model. Human Nature, 25(3) [Preprint] [Article]
  • Nettle, D., Pepper G.V., Jobling, R. et al. (2014) Being there: A brief visit to a neighbourhood induces the social attitudes of that neighbourhood. PeerJ. 2: e236 [Link]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2014). Socioeconomic disparities in health behaviour: An evolutionary perspective. In D. W. Lawson & M. Gibson (Eds.), Applied Evolutionary Anthropology: Darwinian Approaches to Contemporary World Issues. Springer. [View]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2013) Death and the time of your life: experiences of close bereavement are associated with steeper financial future discounting and earlier reproduction. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 34(6): 433-439 [Link] [Poster]
  • More on the publications page, or see my Google Scholar profile.