Penn State Harrisburg

Marissa Harrison, Ph.D.

· Assistant Professor of Psychology, Behavioral Sciences and Education


Marissa A. Harrison received her Ph.D. in biopsychology with an emphasis on evolutionary psychology from the University at Albany, SUNY, in 2006. Her research focuses on the evolutionary origins of human behavior. Recently, she and her colleagues authored a paper providing evidence to suggest that human kissing may be adaptive in terms of providing mate-relevant information about one's kissing partner (e.g., genetic quality, commitment-level), thereby facilitating a wiser mate choices for both sexes - particularly for women who must make prudent mate selections due to their limited reproductive potential.

Dr. Harrison's research has made for an interesting journey, including having been a visiting scholar at the University of Southwestern Louisiana Primate Research Center in New Iberia, La., where she and her colleagues studied contagious yawning in chimpanzees.

Prior to becoming assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, Dr. Harrison taught various psychology classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY), University at Albany, State University of New York, Schenectady County Community College, Sacred Heart University, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and The College of New Jersey.

Research Interests

  • The evolutionary origins of human behavior, including sexuality, mate-choice, and social behavior

Publications and Research

  • Harrison, M.A., Hughes, S.M., Burch, R.L., & Gallup, G.G., Jr. (2008). The impact of prior heterosexual experiences on homosexuality in women. Evolutionary Psychology, 6(2): 316-327.
  • Hughes, S.M., Harrison, M.A., & Gallup, G.G., Jr. (2007). Sex differences in kissing among college students. Evolutionary Psychology, 5(3), 612-631.