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Glenn Wilson
Born (1942-12-29) 29 December 1942 (age 81)
EducationUniversity of Canterbury
Occupation(s)Evolutionary psychologist
Media commentator

Glenn Daniel Wilson (born 29 December 1942) is a psychologist best known for his work on attitude and personality measurement, sexual attraction, deviation and dysfunction, partner compatibility, and psychology applied to performing arts. He is a fellow of the British Psychological Society and makes frequent media appearances as a psychology expert, especially in TV news and documentaries.


After graduating MA at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Wilson moved to London in 1967 to study for his PhD under the supervision of Hans Eysenck, with whom he subsequently collaborated on a number of research projects and co-authored six books. He also co-authored the Eysenck Personality Profiler,[1] a standard personality test used in clinical research and industry. With John Patterson, he devised the Wilson–Patterson Conservatism Scale,[2] which has been widely used as a measure of social attitudes.[3][4][5][6][7] In 1973 he proposed the theory that a heritable trait reflecting fear of uncertainty underlies social attitudes across many fields.[8][9][10][11] Together with G.Knyazev and H.Slobodskaya of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Wilson has researched the EEG correlates of personality and produced a theory of the evolution of brain oscillations.[12]

In a study conducted before leaving New Zealand, Wilson showed that classical fear conditioning in humans can be overridden by verbal reassurances of "safety".[13] This initiated a continuing field of research concerned with the power of cognitive expectations to control anxiety that underlies the rationale of cognitive behavioral therapy.[14]

Wilson studied evolutionary approaches to understanding human sex differences and mating behavior in 1981,[15] His 1975 study on the bust-waist ratio as an objective index of female sexual attractiveness[16] presaged the waist–hip ratio, now used as an oestrogen (fertility) marker. His studies of sex fantasy yielded the Wilson Sex Fantasy Questionnaire.[17] With Peter Fenwick and others at the Institute of Psychiatry, he studied men with normal and paraphilic interests, and how they differed in their EEG responses to erotic images in certain brain areas.[18]

Noting that men and women had different finger length patterns, Wilson introduced the 2D/4D digit ratio as a marker of exposure to prenatal testosterone in 1983.[19][20] His theory that autism represented a hypermale brain[21] was influential in autism studies,[22] but has now been widely discredited.[23] He worked with Jon Cousins to develop the compatibility quotient (CQ) in 2003, which was designed as a predictor of relationship success.[24] With Qazi Rahman, Wilson has published research supporting the conclusion that sexual orientation is of constitutional origin.[25]

Wilson is a part-time professional baritone singer, and has taught courses on Psychology of Performance. He wrote a textbook on the subject, Psychology for Performing Artists (Wiley, 2002) which is in its second edition.[26]

From 2009 to 2014 Wilson was Visiting Professor of Psychology at Gresham College, London. Prior to that (1994-2008), he was Reader in Personality at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, University of London. He has held visiting appointments at several American institutions, including California State University, Los Angeles, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, Sierra Nevada College and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was Adjunct Professor for many years.


  1. ^ Eysenck, H.J., Wilson, G.D. (1991) Manual for the Eysenck Personality Profiler, Cymeon, Guildford.
  2. ^ Wilson, G.D. & Patterson, J.R. (1968) A new measure of conservatism, British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 7, 264-269.
  3. ^ Smelser, J. (1987) Contemporary Classics in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, ISI Press, Philadelphia (p20)
  4. ^ Lee, J.J. et al (2013). Emotion regulation as the foundation of emotional political attitudes: Does reappraisal decrease support for conservative policies? "PLOS One" 8(12): e83143. doi:10.1371.
  5. ^ Deppe, K.D. et al (2015) Reflective liberals and intuitive conservatives: A look at the Cognitive Reflexion Test and ideology. "Judgement and Decision Making" 10,314-331.
  6. ^ Todosijevic, B. (2014) Dimensions of ideology: A review of the social-psychological literature. "European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities", 3, 12-30.
  7. ^ Schwabe, I. et al (2015) Genes, culture and conservatism - A psychometric-genetic approach. "Behavior Genetics" (online).
  8. ^ Wilson, G.D. (1973) The Psychology of Conservatism Academic Press, London.
  9. ^ Bouchard, T.J. et al. (2003), Evidence for the construct validity and heritability of the Wilson-Patterson Conservatism Scale, Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 959-969
  10. ^ Jost, John T. et al. (2007) Are needs to manage uncertainty and threat associated with political conservatism or ideological extremity? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 989-1007.
  11. ^ Mills, M. et al. (2016) Political conservatism predicts asymmetries in emotional scene memory. "Behavioural Brain Research, 306, 84-90".
  12. ^ Knyazev, G.G., Slobodskaya, H.R. & Wilson, G.D. (2004) Personality and brain oscillations in developmental perspective. In S.P. Shohov (Ed) Advances in Psychology Research, Vol. 29, Nova Science Publishers, New York.
  13. ^ Wilson, G.D. (1968) Reversal of differential GSR conditioning by instructions. "Journal of Experimental Psychology", 76, 491-493.
  14. ^ Mertons, G. & De Houver, J. (2016) Potentiation of the startle reflex is in line with contingency reversal instructions rather than the conditioning history. "Biological Psychology", online.
  15. ^ Wilson, G.D. (1981) Love and Instinct, London, Temple Smith
  16. ^ Wilson, G.D., Nias, D.K.B. & Brazendale, A.H. (1975) Vital statistics, perceived sexual attractiveness and response to risque humor. Journal of Social Psychology, 95, 201-205.
  17. ^ Wilson, G.D. (2010) Interpretation guidelines to Wilson's Sex Fantasy Questionnaire, Cymeon Pty
  18. ^ Waismann, R. et al (2003) EEG responses to visual erotic stimuli in men with normal and paraphilic interests. "Archives of Sexual Behavior", 12, 135-144.
  19. ^ Wilson, G.D. (1983) Finger length as an index of assertiveness in women. Personality and Individual Differences, 4, 111-112.
  20. ^ Wilson,G.D. (2010) Fingers to feminism: The rise of 2D:4D, Quarterly Review, 4, 25-32.
  21. ^ Wilson,G.D. (1989) The Great Sex Divide, Peter Owen, London
  22. ^ Baron-Cohen, S. (2002) The extreme male brain theory of autism. Trends in Neuroscience, 6, 248-254.
  23. ^ Fletcher-Watson, S. & Happé, F (2019) Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate, Routledge, London
  24. ^ Wilson, G.D. & Cousins, J. (2003) CQ: The Secret of Lasting Love, Fusion Books, London.
  25. ^ Wilson, G.D. & Rahman, Q (2005) Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, Peter Owen, London
  26. ^ Wilson, G.D. (2002) Psychology for Performing Artists: 2nd Edition, Wiley, Chichester.

Selected works