Dr Martha Newson

Martha Newson

Research Affiliate

Dr Martha Newson uses an evolutionary angle to understand human culture and behaviour. She focuses on the themes of belonging, ritual and transformative experiences, themes central to both her academic research and her consultancy practice, with clients including the Premier League, Hyundai, and Guinness. To better understand group bonding, conflict, and intergroup violence, she has worked with unusual and extreme groups across the world, from Brazilian football hooligans to fundamentalist Muslims in Indonesia and partygoers in Britain’s underground rave scene. Her research on social contact and wellbeing during the pandemic spanned 122 countries and reached over 10,000 people. Martha currently leads research with the UK’s Ministry of Justice, His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and major British football clubs to investigate how football identities could be harnessed to improve behaviour in prison and reduce reoffending through the Twinning Project. She has been awarded over £1.5m in research funding, including a Future Leaders Fellowship titled ‘Righting Recidivism’. Martha completed her DPhil and MSc at the University of Oxford, where she was St Cross Scholar in Anthropology with full funding from ESRC. She completed a BSc in Human Sciences at the University of Sussex, where she was awarded the VC scholarship. Her research features regularly in international media, including interviews across BBC television and radio, Sky TV, and appearances on the Spielberg-produced documentary series ‘Why We Hate’.

She is the leader of The Changing Lives Lab within the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion.