Department of Psychology

Pryale Hall, Room 111
654 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2300
Fax: (248) 370-4612

Melissa McDonald


Melissa M. McDonald, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
204 Pryale Hall
(248) 370-4195
Fax: (248) 370-4612

Ph.D. Michigan State University (2013)
M.A. Michigan State University (2010)
B.S. Grand Valley State University (2008)


I received a dual-degree Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Social/Personality Psychology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. Following my graduate education, I completed a one year postdoctoral research position at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, where I worked with the Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation Lab examining psychological barriers to conflict resolution.

I am the principle investigator of the Personality and Evolutionary Psychology Lab (PEP Lab) at Oakland University. Research in the lab draws on an interdisciplinary framework with the primary aim of improving our understanding of why intergroup prejudice and conflict are persistent and pervasive features of human societies.  Research projects in the lab span a variety of topics, including the role of gender and hormones in intergroup relations, interventions to reduce bias and promote reconciliation between groups in conflict, intersexual conflict in mating strategies, and ecological approaches to understanding personality and individual differences.

Students interested in working with me should contact me directly and explore the graduate programs at Oakland University.


McDonald, M. M., Coleman, B., & Brindley, S. (in press). Calibrating fear of rape: Threat likelihood and victimization costs. Personality and Individual Differences.

Jeffery, A. J., Shackelford, T. K., Zeigler-Hill, V., Vonk, J., & McDonald, M. M. (in press). The evolution of human female sexual orientation. Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Malovicki-Yaffe, N., McDonald, M. M., Halperin, E., & Saguy, T. (in press). God, sex and money among the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel: An integrated sociocultural and evolutionary perspective. Evolution and Human Behavior.

McDonald, M. M., *Brindley, S., Halperin, E., & Saguy, T. (in press). Promoting intergroup openness and support for equality in a new cultural context: Replicating the effects of internal criticism. Journal of Social Psychology.

Tratner, A. E., Shackelford, T. K., Zeigler-Hill, V., Vonk, J., & McDonald, M. M. (in press). Fear the unseen: Hyperactivity agency detection and belief in the supernatural. Religion, Brain, and Behavior.

Brindley, S., McDonald, M. M., Welling, L. L. M., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2018). An evolutionary perspective on intergroup dating bias. Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, 1-28.

McDonald, M. M., Brindley, S., Halperin, E., & Saguy, T. (2017). Outgroup members' internal criticism promotes intergroup openness: The role of perceived risk. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57(1), 95–111.

McDonald, M.M., Defever, A., & Navarrete, C.D., (2017). Killing for the greater good: Impersonal versus personal distinctions influence emotional inhibition of harmful action in a virtual moral dilemma. Evolution and Human Behavior.

McDonald, M.M., Porat, R., Yarkoney, A., Reifen Tagar, M., Kimel, S., Saguy, T., & Halperin E. (2017). Intergroup emotional similarity reduces dehumanization and promotes conciliatory attitudes in prolonged conflict. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 20, 125-136.

McDonald, M.M., Donnellan, M.B., Cesario, J., & Navarrete, C.D. (2015). Mate choice preferences in an intergroup context: Evidence for a sexual coercion threat-management system among women. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 438–445.

McDonald, M.M., & Navarrete, C.D. (2015). Examining the link between conception risk and intergroup bias: The importance of conceptual coherence. [Commentary on "In search of an association between conception risk and prejudice" by C. Hawkins, C. Fitzgerald, & B. Nosek]. Psychological Science, 26(2), 253-255.

McDonald, M.M., Donnellan, M.B., Lang, R., & Nikolajuk, K. (2014). Treating prejudice with imagery: Easier said than done? Psychological Science, 25(3), 837-839.

Navarrete, C.D. & McDonald, M.M (2014). Sexual selection and the psychology of intergroup conflict. In Shackelford, T. & Hansen, R. (Eds.). The Evolution of Violence. Springer, NY.

Cesario, J., & McDonald, M.M. (2013). Bodies in context: Power poses as a computation of action possibility. Social Cognition, 31(2), 260-274.

McDonald, M.M. & Donnellan, M.B. (2012). Is ostracism a strong situation? The influence of personality in reactions to rejection. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 614-618.

McDonald, M.M., Donnellan, M.B., & Navarrete, C.D. (2012). A life history approach to understanding the Dark Triad. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 601–605.

McDonald, M.M., Navarrete, C.D., & Van Vugt, M. (2012). Evolution and the psychology of intergroup conflict: The male warrior hypothesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367, 670-679.

Navarrete, C.D. & McDonald, M.M. (2012). Faustian bargains for minorities within group-based hierarchies [Commentary on “Beyond prejudice: Are negative evaluations the problem? Is getting us to like one another more the solution?” by J. Dixon, M. Levine, S. Reicher, & K. Durheim]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35, 442-443.

Navarrete, C.D., McDonald, M.M., & Asher, B. (2012). Virtual Morality: Emotion and action in a simulated 3-D “Trolley Problem.” Emotion, 12, 364-370.

Navarrete, C.D., McDonald, M.M., Asher, B., Kerr, N., Yokota, K., Olsson, A., & Sidanius, J. (2012). Fear is readily associated with an out-group face in a minimal group context. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 590-593.

McDonald, M.M., Asher, B.D., Kerr, N., & Navarrete, C.D. (2011). Fertility and intergroup bias in racial and minimal group contexts: Evidence for shared architecture. Psychological Science, 22(7), 860-865.

McDonald, M.M., Navarrete, C.D., & Sidanius, J. (2011). Developing a theory of gendered prejudice: An evolutionary and social dominance perspective. In R.M. Kramer, G.J. Leonardelli, & R.W. Livingston, (Eds.), Social Cognition, Social Identity, and Intergroup Relations: A Festschrift in Honor of Marilynn B. Brewer. Psychology Press Festschrift Series.

Navarrete, C.D., McDonald, M.M., Molina, L.E., & Sidanius, J. (2010). Prejudice at the nexus of race and gender: An out-group male target hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(6), 933-945.

Navarrete, C.D., McDonald, M.M., Mott, M.L., Cesario, J., & Sapolsky, R. (2010). Fertility and race perception predict voter preference for Barack Obama. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(6), 394-399.

Tybur, J.M., Merriman, L.A., Caldwell-Hooper, A.E., McDonald, M.M., & Navarrete, C.D. (2010). Extending the behavioral immune system to political psychology: Are political conservatism and disgust sensitivity really related? Evolutionary Psychology, 8(4) 599-616.