Margo Wilson

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Margo Wilson FRSC (1942–2009) was a Canadian evolutionary psychologist. She was a professor of psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, noted for her pioneering work in the field of evolutionary psychology and her contributions to the study of violence.[1]


Wilson was born on October 1, 1942, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.[2] She spent her childhood years in the Gwich'in community of Fort McPherson, where her mother, a nurse, provided medical services.[3] She attended the University of Alberta, graduating with an undergraduate degree in psychology in 1964.[2] She then studied behavioural endocrinology at the University of California and, after winning the a Commonwealth Scholarship, at University College London, England, where she earned her PhD in 1972.[2][3]

From 1972 through 1975, she was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Toronto, where she met her future husband, fellow psychologist Martin Daly.[2][4] Together, they moved to Hamilton in 1978 after Daly was hired by McMaster University.[2] In the 1980s, Wilson was appointed professor of Psychology at McMaster, where she remained for the rest of her career.[2]

Wilson was elected president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society in 1997.[3] With Daly, she was, for 10 years, the editor-in-chief of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior,.[4] In 1998, she was named a fellow of the Royal Society.[2]

Wilson died in Hamilton on September 24, 2009, of cancer.[2] In 2009, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society established the Margo Wilson Award (for best paper published in the previous year) to honour her contributions to the field.[5][6]


In 1978, Wilson proposed the idea to Daly that they could analyze patterns of homicide to better understand humans' social behaviours from an evolutionary perspective.[4] For the next 30 years, Wilson and Daly collaborated on this research, authoring several books and over 100 academic papers and book chapters in this area.[7][4]

Their first book on this topic, Homicide (1988),[8] has been described as a "founding"[9] and "classic"[4] text for the field of evolutionary psychology. Their second book on homicide, The truth about Cinderella (1999),[10] summarized their findings on the Cinderella effect, which suggests that stepparents are more likely to mistreat children than biological parents.[11]

Selected bibliography[edit]

(All books co-authored with Martin Daly)

  • Sex, Evolution, and Behaviour, Brooks Cole, 1978 (2nd edition 1983), ISBN 978-0871507679
  • Homicide: Foundations of Human Behavior, Aldine Transaction, 1988, ISBN 978-0202011783
  • The truth about Cinderella: A Darwinian view of parental love, Yale, 1999, ISBN 9780300080292

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Surbey, Michele K. (2016), "Martin Daly and Margo Wilson (Founders of Evolutionary Psychology)", in Weekes-Shackelford, Viviana; Shackelford, Todd K.; Weekes-Shackelford, Viviana A. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, Springer International Publishing, pp. 1–9, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3583-1, ISBN 978-3-319-16999-6
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Belluz, Julia (2009-10-15). "Margo Wilson's research shed light on evolutionary psychology". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  3. ^ a b c Daly, Martin (2012). "Margo Wilson, 1942-2009". Homicide Studies. 16 (4): 329–331. doi:10.1177/1088767912457171. ISSN 1088-7679. S2CID 146938189.
  4. ^ a b c d e Krupp, Daniel Brian; Barclay, Pat (2010). "Margo Wilson (1942–2009)". Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. 8 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1556/JEP.8.2010.1.1. ISSN 1789-2082.
  5. ^ "Awards". Human Behavior and Evolution Society. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  6. ^ Mesoudi, Alex (2012). "Announcement: Margo Wilson Prize". Evolution and Human Behavior. 33 (5): 428. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.07.001.
  7. ^ "Margo Wilson's research shed light on evolutionary psychology" by Julia Belluz, The Globe and Mail, October 1, 2009
  8. ^ Daly, Martin; Wilson, Margo (1988). Homicide. Wilson, Margo. New York: A. de Gruyter. ISBN 0-202-01177-1. OCLC 16714351.
  9. ^ Jones, Dan (2008-01-01). "Human behaviour: Killer instincts". Nature. 451 (7178): 512–515. Bibcode:2008Natur.451..512J. doi:10.1038/451512a. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 18235473. S2CID 205035543.
  10. ^ Daly, Martin; Wilson, Margo (1999). The truth about Cinderella : a Darwinian view of parental love. Wilson, Margo. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08029-8. OCLC 41419567.
  11. ^ Nobes, Gavin; Panagiotaki, Georgia (2018-09-24). "The Cinderella effect: are stepfathers dangerous?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-12-02.