Joseph A. Bulbulia is a Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Science at Victoria University of Wellington (2020-present). He was the Maclaurin Goodfellow Chair in the School of Humanities, Faculty of Arts at University of Auckland (2018-2020). He previously served as a Professor in the School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington (2000– 2017). Bulbulia is regarded[by whom?] as one of the founders of the contemporary evolutionary religious studies. He is a past President of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion and is currently co-editor of Religion, Brain & Behavior. Bulbulia is one of four on the Senior Management Team of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a 20-year longitudinal study tracking over 15,000 New Zealanders each year. He is an associate investigator for Pulotu, a database of 116 Pacific cultures purpose-built to investigate the evolutionary dynamics of religion. In 2016 Bulbulia won a Research Excellence Award at Victoria University.
Bulbulia's early work explained how features of religious beliefs and emotions make people more predictably cooperative with members of their group, and uncooperative with people regarded to be social threats. Later work quantified the effects of religion on social responses to test functional theories of religion.
Bulbulia was born in Buffalo, New York. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 2001.