Edge Hill University’s world-renowned psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie has been shaping the debate on trophy hunting in Parliament with his ground-breaking research on the psychology of hunters.

Professor Beattie was invited to give evidence to the All-Party Political Group (APPG) on Trophy Hunting, where he offered insights into what makes trophy hunters hunt endangered animals for sport, display their carcasses as trophies and spend substantial sums in the pursuit of their hobby.

Professor Beattie said: “It’s an important year for anti-trophy hunting campaigners, as the UK government looks to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. I hope that my research adds to the weight of evidence showing that trophy hunting is a pursuit that belongs in the past.”

Professor Beattie’s book, Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective, was the first to critically examine research to determine whether there really is an evolutionary argument for trophy hunting, and what range of motivations and personality traits may be linked to this activity.

He argues that we need to identify, analyse and deconstruct the factors that hold the behaviour of trophy hunting in place if we are to understand why it continues, and flourishes, in an age of collapsing ecosystems and dwindling species populations.

“In my book I look at the evolutionary argument so frequently put forward by hunters who say it is only natural for humans to hunt and kill large animals. It quickly became clear that there was no clear evolutionary argument for hunting large prey for food resource and that the real reason people hunt has always been the same: to display their strength and prowess.

“I conclude that the real psychological reasons behind hunting are individual factors like narcissism, non-clinical psychopathy and Machiavellianism, the so-called ‘dark triad’ of personality traits, characterised by a lack of empathy. Hunting seems to be entwined with these unhealthy traits, it encourages and fosters them which has the potential to cause lasting psychological harm.”

In light of his leading work in this field, Professor Beattie has acted as a consultant to the Born Free Foundation, recently spoke to the members of the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA) and has been invited to share his thoughts with the Animal Rights Committee of the National Lawyers Guild of New York City.

Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective’ was shortlisted for the 2019 Taylor & Francis Outstanding Book and Digital Product Award. Born Free has also cited this work in its appeals to the South African government to bring an end to the practice of ‘canned hunting’ in the country.

If you are interested in studying Psychology at Edge Hill the university offers a variety of courses including BSc (Hons) PsychologyBSc (Hons) Educational Psychology and BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology.