Dr. Danielle Wagstaff

Position: Bachelor of Psychological Science Program Coordinator, Senior Lecturer
Discipline: Psychology
Location: Gippsland Campus, Room 2W282
(03) 5327 6247
Email: d.wagstaff@federation.edu.au


Doctor of Philosophy – University of Newcastle – 2016

Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) – University of Newcastle – 2011

Bachelor of Science – University of Newcastle – 2008

Graduate Certificate of Education (Tertiary) – Federation University – 2018



  • Bachelor of Psychological Science


  • Psychology Undergraduate Placement (PSYCB3111)
  • Psychology Applied Project (PSYCB3112)


Dr Danielle Wagstaff is an early-career psychology academic who graduated from her PhD in 2016. Danielle’s research focuses on women’s experiences, appearance, competition, and social media. Danielle has published research in these areas and the broader field of evolutionary psychology, and regularly contributes to media interviews, blog posts and psychology interest pieces. Danielle is the Bachelor of Psychological Science Coordinator, and through her award-winning teaching focuses on real-world, authentic learning experiences to foster career-ready graduates.

Areas of expertise

Dr Danielle Wagstaff has expertise in women, seeking to improve women’s experiences, and foster healthy interpersonal and intrapersonal functioning. She approaches her investigations from multiple perspectives, including evolutionary, social, and public health, to gain a holistic understanding of women’s functioning and ultimately improve women’s experiences.

Dr Wagstaff’s research interests can be broadly categorised across three intersecting areas:

1) Intrasexual competition and relationship function. Dr Wagstaff completed her PhD in evolutionary psychology, with an emphasis on how we attract and retain suitable mates. Expanding on this research, she investigates female intrasexual competition and mate attraction, as well as relationship interaction and functioning. A key aspect of this research is how women (and others) compete via appearance, including clothing and cosmetics, and how women and men negotiate relationship functioning.

2) Social media. Dr Wagstaff has a keen interest in how online spaces facilitate female interpersonal functioning, including as a vehicle for competition, as well as how social media changes the ways we interact with others for the purposes of dating and mate attraction. This can include how social media facilitates negative interpersonal interactions (bullying and harassment) as well as social media effects on body image.

3) Women’s bodies and motherhood. Dr Wagstaff is particularly interested in how motherhood affects women, including their mental health and competition as well as the pressure on women surrounding motherhood. Dr Wagstaff is keen to improve women’s experiences with their bodies in medicine, particularly through the pregnancy and birth period.

Research interests

  • Women
  • Intrasexual Competition
  • Appearance
  • Social Media
  • Body Image
  • Motherhood
  • Medical Experiences


Present doctoral students-

Molly Branson (Federation University) – “#nowomanever: An Exploration of Women’s Experiences of Cyber Abuse” – Associate Supervisor

Louisa Chatterton (Federation University) – “Exploring the psychological experiences of Australian women in the perinatal period: is there room to improve?” – Associate Supervisor

Stacey Whitelaw (Federation University) – “Understanding female presentation of Autism” – Primary Supervisor

Previous doctoral students-

Melinda Williams (Charles Sturt University) – “Exploring tactics of female intrasexual competition” – External Co-Supervisor


Refereed journal articles

March, E., Kay, C. S., Dinić, B. M., Wagstaff, D., Grabovac, B., & Jonason, P. K. (2023). “It’s All in Your Head”: Personality traits and gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships. Journal of Family Violence, 1-10.

Williamson, T., Wagstaff, D. L., Goodwin, J., & Smith, N. (2022). Mothering ideology: a qualitative exploration of mothers’ perceptions of navigating motherhood pressures and partner relationships. Sex Roles, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-022-01345-7

Watkins, C. D., Bovet, J., Fernandez, A. M., Leongómez, J. D., Żelaźniewicz, A., Corrêa Varella, M. A., & Wagstaff, D. (2022). Men say “I love you” before women do: Robust across several countries. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 02654075221075264. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075221075264

Wagstaff, D. L., & Sulikowski, D. (2022). The impact of sexual strategies, social comparison, and Instagram use on makeup purchasing intentions. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000285

Sulikowski, D., Ensor, M., & Wagstaff, D. (2022). Mate-value moderates the function of make-up as a signal of intrasexual aggression. Personality and Individual Differences185, 111275. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.111275

Molloy, K., & Wagstaff, D. (2021). Effects of gender, self-rated attractiveness, and mate value on perceptions tattoos. Personality and Individual Differences168, 110382. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110382

March, E., Grieve, R., Wagstaff, D., & Slocum, A. (2020). Exploring anger as a moderator of narcissism and antisocial behaviour on Tinder. Personality and Individual Differences161, 109961. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.109961

Watkins, C. D., Leongómez, J. D., Bovet, J., Żelaźniewicz, A., Korbmacher, M., Varella, M. A. C., Fernandez, A.M., Wagstaff, D.L. & Bolgan, S. (2019). National income inequality predicts cultural variation in mouth-to-mouth kissing. Scientific reports9(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43267-7

Sherlock, M., & Wagstaff, D. L. (2019). Exploring the relationship between frequency of Instagram use, exposure to idealized images, and psychological well-being in women. Psychology of Popular Media Culture8(4), 482. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000182

Van Doorn, G., De Foe, A., Wood, A., Wagstaff, D., & Hohwy, J. (2018). Down the rabbit hole: assessing the influence of schizotypy on the experience of the Barbie Doll Illusion. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry23(5), 284-298. https://doi.org/10.1080/13546805.2018.1495623

Wagstaff, D. L., & Van Doorn, G. (2018). The effect of schizotypy on the relationship between women's red clothing and perceived sexual interest. Australian Journal of Psychology70(3), 277-283. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajpy.12197

Wagstaff, D. L. (2018). Comparing mating motivations, social processes, and personality as predictors of women’s cosmetics use. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences12(4), 367. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000119

March, E., & Wagstaff, D. L. (2017). Sending nudes: Sex, self-rated mate value, and trait Machiavellianism predict sending unsolicited explicit images. Frontiers in psychology8, 2210. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02210

Wagstaff, D. L., Sulikowski, D., & Burke, D. (2015). Sex-differences in preference for looking at the face or body in short-term and long-term mating contexts. Evolution, Mind and Behaviour13(1), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1556/2050.2015.0003

Book chapters

Wagstaff, D.L & Sulikowski, D. (2023). Intrasexual mate competition (women): mate attraction tactics. In: Shackelford, T. (ed) Encyclopedia of Sexual Psychology and Behavior. Springer, Cham.

Sulikowski, D. & Wagstaff, D.L. (2023). Luxury Purchases. In: Shackelford, T. (ed) Encyclopedia of Sexual Psychology and Behavior. Springer, Cham.

Wagstaff, D.L. (2019). Sexual Receptivity. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_262-1


  • Human Behavior and Evolution Society
  • Society of Australasian Social Psychologists
  • Australasian Congress for the Study of Individual Differences