about margo wilson

A tireless, generous advocate of international, interdisciplinary collaboration, Margo spearheaded successful research with colleagues from Canada, Brazil, Japan, Norway, the UK and the USA.

Margo Wilson was born in Winnipeg in 1942.  She moved to the Canadian Arctic in 1948, and attended a one-room primary school at which she was the only non-aboriginal pupil.  After completing high school in Victoria BC, she earned a BA in psychology from the University of Alberta in 1964, and pursued graduate studies in behavioural endocrinology at the University of California and at University College, London, where she earned her PhD in 1972 for pioneering work on the behavioural effects of gonadectomy and hormone replacement in monkeys.

Margo met Martin Daly in Toronto in 1975, and the two became inseparable, moving to McMaster in 1978, and collaborating on research on the psychology and behaviour of both nonhuman animals and Homo sapiens until her death in 2009.  Margo thought outside the box, and one of her most fertile ideas was the homicides provide a rich source of information on interpersonal conflict and thus, more generally, on human passion.  This idea launched a 30-year program of epidemiological analyses of who is likely to kill whom, which became Wilson and Daly's best known work.


Academic History

Currently, I am pursuing two main lines of research questions which derive from taking an evolutionary psychological perspective on perceptions, emotions and motivations.

1. Interpersonal conflict and violence: These studies in collaboration with Martin Daly and others are mainly epidemiological analyses of patterns of risk of lethal and nonlethal violence in different categories of relationships, especially, marital and parent-offspring relationships.

2. Perceptions and valuations of the environment: A multi-disciplinary research project, Ecowise, was initiated at McMaster University to study various aspects of the ecosystem of Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise. Some of the research on what people like and know about this ecosystem is described on the Ecowise website (

Representative Publications: Martin Daly, & Margo Wilson (1998). The truth about Cinderella: A Darwinian view of parental love. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN: 0 297 84161 0 4.99 pounds sterling

Margo Wilson & Martin Daly (1997) Life expectancy, economic inequality, homicide, and reproductive timing in Chicago neighbourhoods. British Medical Journal 314: 1271-1274.

Martin Daly & Margo Wilson (1997) Crime and conflict: homicide in evolutionary psychological perspective. Crime and Justice, vol. 22: 51-100.

Margo Wilson & Martin Daly (1996) Male sexual proprietariness and violence against wives. Current Directions in Psychological Science 5: 2-7.

Margo Wilson, Martin Daly & Antonietta Daniele (1995) Familicide: the killing of spouse and children. Aggressive Behavior 21: 275-291.

Margo Wilson, Holly Johnson & Martin Daly (1995) Lethal and nonlethal violence against wives. Canadian Journal of Criminology 37: 331-361.

Margo Wilson, Lesley Robertson, Martin Daly & Steven Walton (1995) Effects of visual cues on assessment of water quality. Journal of Environmental Psychology 15: 53-63.

Margo Wilson, Martin Daly, Stephen Gordon & Adelle Pratt (1996) Sex differences in valuations of the environment? Population and Environment 18: 143-159.





Contact Department

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)
Psychology Building (PC), Room 102
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1