Martha Newson

Dr Martha Newson BSc, MSc, AFHEA, DPhil

Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr Martha Newson joined Greenwich in 2023 as Associate Professor in Psychology. Though working with modern human populations, Martha’s research is strongly informed by evolutionary theory. Her highly inter-disciplinary research draws from anthropology, psychology, evolutionary theory and criminology, so she has connections across academic disciplines.

Her research and consultancy practice is guided by the themes of social cohesion, ritual, and belonging. Her primary focus is on the rituals underlying social cohesion and the ensuing cooperation and conflict emerging from tightly bonded groups.

Dr Newson has worked with a range of challenging populations, from fundamentalist Indonesian Muslims to London’s ravers. She has particular experience working with football fans, including surveys and interviews with hardcore Brazilian, Indonesian and Australian fans (ultras) and collecting hormonal samples from fans at live World Cup events.

She gained a BSc in Human Sciences from the University of Sussex then taught English in Vietnam and Spain, before completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. She remains a Research Affiliate at the University of Oxford (Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion).

Dr Newson provides consultancy and commentary on issues related to group psychology, belonging, conflict, and cooperation. This concerns human behaviour and evolutionary psychology in general terms, and with regard to football fandom specifically. Previous consultancy clients include Guinness, the Premier League, Manchester City and Hyundai among others.

Martha has contributed to Discovery’s Why We Hate, produced by Steven Spielberg, as well as numerous BBC and Sky TV features in the UK, such as BBC News and Sky News, alongside a number of radio shows including Radio 4’s World at One and PM programmes. Her research has also featured in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, International Business Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun, Haaratz, Der Spiegel and many others.

Post held previously

2020 - 2022 Future Leaders Fellowship research fellow, School of Anthropology & Conservation, University of Kent
2017 - 2020 Postdoc on ERC grant, Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion, University of Oxford
2018 - Tutor for Human Sciences, University of Oxford

Responsibilities within the university

  • Leading UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship research grant
  • Guest lecturer on Desistance and Reintegration


  • Founder and co-chair, Groups Network
  • Academic partner to the Twinning Project
  • British Psychological Society member (CPsychol)
  • Reviewer for multiple international peer-review journals (e.g., Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, PPS) and large funders (e.g., ERC synergy grant EUR10m)

Research / Scholarly interests

  • Social cohesion, group identities, community action
  • Ritual, religion, community
  • Extreme behaviours, deviancy, psychedelics
  • Subcultures, rave culture, football cultures

Key funded projects

DateTitle of GrantAwarding BodyTotal Amount Awarded
2023 - 2024Innovation through Groups, a theme-based Fellows networkPlus Funds (PI) UK Research & Innovation£21,976
2020 - 2024Righting RecidivismFuture Leaders Fellowship (PI) UK Research & Innovation£877,189
2014 - 2015Fusion in Football FansJohn Templeton Foundation sub-grant (co-PI) Religion’s Impact on Human Life£32,000
2013 - 2017ESRC full graduate studentshipSt Cross Scholarship, University of Oxford£85,894

Media activity

Martha has engaged in numerous media activities with esteemed organizations, including BBC News, BBC Sports, Sky Sports, Sky News, ITV, Al Jazeera, and various prominent international newspapers.

  • Sky News, The Great Debate, ‘Is racism in sport here to stay?’
  • BBC Radio 4, One to One, ‘The beat of change’ on rave culture
  • BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour, on the power of hope
  • BBC Radio 4, The World Tonight, on football disorder
  • BBC Radio 5 Live, Adrian Chiles show on football fan stress
  • Discovery, Why We Hate, ‘Tribalism’
  • Vice, Decade of Hate, ‘Why the far right tries to recruit football hooligans’
  • Woo, The Bigger Trip, ‘Can psychedelics bring us back together’
  • Hidden Persuaders, ‘The stuff that screams are made of’ on Beatlemania
  • Freakonomics, ‘How sports became us’
  • Social Science Bites, ‘On identity fusion’
  • The Independent, Third of adults ‘feel pressured to drink alcohol while socialising’’
  • The Telegraph, ‘Revealed: the surprising softer side of football hooligans’
  • The Guardian, ‘The rise of disorder at football: why is it happening and what can be done?