Prof. Dr. Lars Penke

Personal homepage

Research interests

  • Evolutionary significance of individual differences, esp. in general intelligence and personality traits
  • Social endocrinology
  • Evolutionary psychology of mate choice, romantic relationships and sexuality
  • Behaviour genetics
  • Links of somatometric measures of the body and face with psychological traits
  • Life history theory
  • Open Science


Current research projects

  • Ovulatory cycle effects on female sexuality and social behaviour
  • Testosterone and intraindividual personality variability
  • Extraversion and group processes
  • Predictive validity of romantic partner ideals
  • Molecular genetics of intelligence
  • Hormonal effects on social perception
  • Online research (PSYTESTS)


Representative puplications

  • Driebe, J. C., Stern, J., Penke, L., & Gerlach, T. M. (in press). Stability and change of individual differences in ideal partner preferences over 13 years. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
  • Arslan, R. C., Blake, K., Botzet, L. J., Bürkner, P.-C., DeBruine, L., Fiers, T., Grebe, N., Hahn, A., Jones, B. C., Marcinkowska, U. M., Mumford, S. L., Penke, L., Roney, J., R., Schisterman, E. F., & Stern, J. (2023). Not within spitting distance: Salivary immunoassays of estradiol have subpar validity for cycle phase. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 149, 105994.
  • Schleifenbaum, L., Stern, J., Driebe, J. C., Wieczorek, L. L., Gerlach, T. M., Arslan, R. C., & Penke, L. (2022). Men are not aware of and do not respond to their female partner’s fertility status: evidence from a dyadic diary study of 384 couples. Hormones and Behavior, 143, 105202.
  • Arslan, R. C., Schilling, K. M., Gerlach, T. M., & Penke, L. (2021). Using 26 thousand diary entries to show ovulatory changes in sexual desire and behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121, 410-431.
  • Gerlach, T. M., Arslan, R. C., Schultze, T., Reinhard, S.K., & Penke, L. (2019). Predictive validity and adjustment of ideal partner preferences across the transition into romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116 , 313-330.
  • von Borell, C., Kordsmeyer, T. L., Gerlach, T. M., & Penke, L. (2019). An integrative study of facultative personality calibration. Evolution and Human Behavior, 40, 235-248.
  • Hill, W. D., Arslan, R. C., Xia, C., Luciano, M., Amador, C., Navarro, P., Hayward, C., Nagy, R., Porteous, D., McIntosh, A. M., Deary, I. J., Haley, C., & Penke, L. (2018). Genomic analysis of family data reveals additional genetic effects on intelligence and personality. Molecular Psychiatry, 23, 2347–2362. 
  • Jünger, J., Kordsmeyer, T., Gerlach, T. M., & Penke, L. (2018). Fertile women evaluate male bodies as more attractive, regardless of masculinity. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39, 412-423.
  • Kordsmeyer, T., Hunt, J., Puts, D. A., Ostner, J., & Penke, L. (2018). The relative importance of intra- and intersexual selection on human male sexually dimorphic traits. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39, 424-436.
  • Arslan R. C., Willführ K. P., Frans E. M., Verweij K. J. H., Bürkner P. C., Myrskylä M., Voland E., Almqvist C., Zietsch B. P., & Penke L. (2017). Older fathers’ children have lower evolutionary fitness across four centuries and in four populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284, 20171562.
  • Pietschnig, J., Penke, L., Wicherts, J. M., Zeiler, M., & Voracek, M. (2015). Meta-analysis of associations between human brain volume and intelligence differences: How strong are they and what do they mean? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 57, 411-432.
  • Penke, L., & Jokela, M. (2016). The evolutionary genetics of personality revisited. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 104-109.
  • Arslan, R. C. & Penke, L. (2015). Evolutionary genetics. In D. M. Buss (Hrsg.): Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology Vol. 2: Integrations (2. Ed.) (S. 1047-1066). New York: Wiley.
  • Penke, L., Muñoz Maniega, S., Bastin, M.E., Valdés, Hernández, M.C., Murray, C., Royle, N. A., Starr, J.M., Wardlaw, J.M. & Deary, I.J. (2012) Brain white matter tracts integrity as a neural foundation for general intelligence. Molecular Psychiatry, 17, 1026-1030.
  • Asendorpf, J. B., Penke, L. & Back, M. D. (2011). From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating in a community sample. European Journal of Personality, 25, 16-30.
  • Johnson, W., Penke, L. & Spinath, F. M. (2011). Heritability in the era of molecular genetics: Some thoughts for understanding genetic influences on behavioral traits (target article). European Journal of Personality, 25, 254-266.
  • Deary, I.J., Penke, L. & Johnson, W. (2010). The neuroscience of human intelligence differences. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11, 201-211.
  • Penke, L. & Asendorpf, J. B. (2008). Beyond global sociosexual orientations: A more differentiated look at sociosexuality and its effects on courtship and romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1113-1135.
  • Penke, L., Denissen, J.J.A. & Miller, G.F. (2007). The evolutionary genetics of personality (target article). European Journal of Personality, 21, 549-587.