Swansea University Research on the Incel Community
Mission statement - Participate - FAQ - Who we are - Media interviews and articles - Previous research
About the group

The Swansea University Research on the Incel Community (SURIC) is a research group who conduct empirical research to better understand the dynamics of the incel (involuntary celibate) community, and individuals who identify as incel.

Mission Statement
We are aware that members of the incel community are often sceptical about academic research and the agenda/motive of the research team. In an effort to be open about our position, we have the following "mission statement". As a research group we commit to:
  1. Base psychological findings around direct engagement with the incel community and individuals rather than linguistic analyses of internet posts
  2. Investigate incel beliefs and behaviour without sensationalising or demonising them.
  3. Not judge the entire community, or all incels, by the actions, behaviors, or views of the most extreme minority of incels
  4. Base our findings on the biggest sample of incel participants of any study
  5. Base our findings on a broader representation of the incel community including multiple definitions of incel identity (e.g., forum users and non-forum users, or people who only identify with the life circumstance).
  6. Use a data driven approach to investigate potential avenues for understanding incel beliefs and behaviour and to help address the problems associated with such beliefs and behaviour.
  7. Ensure data we gather is fully anonymised and not shared with third parties.
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We have recently finished recruitment for our latest study. Please check back here for other participation opportunities in the future.
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Who funds your research?

Most of our research is either unfunded or funded/supported directly by Swansea University and via Swansea University's Legal Innovation Lab Wales (which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government).

Our latest study on unhelping thinking styles was jointly funded by Swansea University and the University of Texas at Austin

We recently ran a large research study about incel mental health, ideology and social networking. This independent research was funded by the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) and a report containing the main findings will appear on the UK Government website. However, we stress the importance of academic freedom and the CCE neither designed the study, nor did they have control over the data.

Research summaries and reports contain broad descriptive information and associations about the sample as a whole - things like the % of incels who have poor mental health, and whether mental health is positively/negatively related to social networking, for example. They don't contain information about specific individuals.

As made clear in our mission statement above, the data we gather is 100% anonymised and not shared with third parties. This means that funders like the CCE do not have access to the data. We make this clear to potential funders from the outset, because we know the community is sceptical of government bodies (and researchers in general). It's very important to us that our research is conducted ethically, impartially, and treats incels as real people.

Did you make the donation like you said you would?

As part of our recent CCE-funded study on incel mental health, ideology, and social networking, we give participants the option of donating their participant compensation to the Movember charity. In total, 125 participants selected this option and we donated £2,500 to Movember Europe on 01/11/2023 (REF: R-54189201-68033982).

When will you publish the results of the study I participated in?

Research can sometimes take a while to publish because the peer review process can be slow. For example, data we gathered in 2020-2021 is only now being published. However, our aim is to also write-up our papers as freely accessible pre-prints as soon as we can, so that people can access the findings sooner rather than later and without a paywall - though these may be slight different from the finished article. You can see some examples here and here. The best way to be notified that we have added a pre-print or report is to follow us on Twitter or check back on the website regularly.

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Who we are

William Costello (@CostelloWilliam) is a Ph.D. student of Individual Differences and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of Prof. David Buss’ Evolutionary Psychology lab. In 2021, William graduated with an MSc in Psychology, Culture and Evolution from Brunel University London, where his dissertation investigated the underlying psychology of incels (involuntary celibates). The first paper from this research is published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science. William has spoken about his research and the topic of incels on several podcasts and YouTube channels, including Modern Wisdom with Chris Williamson, the Mikhaila Peterson podcast, the Sex and Psychology podcast, Triggernometry, and the Incel podcast with Naama Kates.

Dr Andrew G. Thomas (@DrThomasAG) is a senior lecturer in psychology at Swansea University who studies sex and relationships from an evolutionary perspective. He has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles on the topics of sexual harassment, sex differences, and mate preferences. His work on sexual harassment has been funded by the Welsh Government (VAWDASV) and UKRI (ESRC). Dr Thomas is a co-author on the paper Levels of Wellbeing Among Men who are Incel (involuntary celibate), which is published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science. Dr Thomas has a regular column (Darwin Does Dating) for Psychology Today, which has covered the topic of inceldom.

Dr Joe Whittaker (@CTProject_JW) is a lecturer in cyber threats at Swansea University. He studies “online radicalisation”, looking specifically at terrorists’ and extremists’ behaviours. His PhD created a database of Islamic State terrorists in the U.S. and he has five peer-reviewed journal articles. He also researches the role of recommendation algorithms and has conducted this research in the context of incels online. He is a member of the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism's Transparency working group and the Christchurch Call’s Algorithms and Positive Interventions working group.

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Media interviews and articles

Interviews with William Costello

Interviews with Dr Andrew G. Thomas

Interviews with Dr Joe Whittaker

Blog posts/articles

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Previous research by the team
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Other relevant singlehood research
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Other relevant incel research
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