Timothy Bates

Timothy C. Bates (born 1963) is a professor of individual differences in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. His current research interests include the genetics of reading and spelling, intelligence, and personality.[1]

Timothy Bates
NationalityNew Zealand
Alma materUniversity of Auckland
Known forResearch on the genetics of dyslexia, intelligence, personality, wellbeing
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, behaviour genetics
InstitutionsUniversity of Edinburgh
Doctoral advisorGordon Mangan


He is currently a member of the editorial board of the journal Intelligence. His PhD was completed in 1994 at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and integrated the Eysenckian dimensional model of psychosis with the categorical model of schizotypy proposed by Paul E. Meehl, using measures of personality, creativity, evoked potentials, and smooth pursuit eye movement dysfunction. He has since conducted research in individual differences, genetics, and cognitive neuropsychology, publishing nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.

His principal academic achievements include demonstrating the existence of two separate forms of dyslexia, underpinned by distinct genes,[2] and, subsequently, demonstrating that the genes associated with dyslexia are also linked to normal variation in reading ability.[3] This work evolved into searches for specific genes involved in reading and language.[4][5]

In positive psychology, he showed (along with Alexander Weiss and Michelle Luciano) that the genes for happiness are genes for personality, suggesting that a general factor of genetic well-being and specific genetic influences from the five factor model traits of Extraversion, Neuroticism/Stability, and Conscientiousness completely explain the heritable component of differences in happiness.[6]

With Caroline Rae, Bates showed that creatine supports cognitive function – finding that creatine supplements in vegans substantially increased their cognitive ability and working memory by comparison with placebo. This supported a literal 'mental energy' model of intelligence, first postulated by Charles Spearman. In his work with the late Hans Eysenck and subsequently with Con Stough on the role of basic information processing speed in human intelligence, he used ERP complexity measures to argue for a modification to the Hendrickson and Hendrickson error[7] or "string theory" (so named as pins and string were used to make the measurements of EEG output) model of ability, to include a controlling role of attention.[8][9] In related work on reaction time, he introduced a novel modification to the Jensen box, again controlling the role of attention in this task, and suggesting that under these conditions, intelligence is, as Arthur Jensen proposed, related to the rate of information processing defined in Fitts Law and using Claude Shannon's information metrics.[10]

At the University of Edinburgh he has investigated individual differences in intelligence, memory,[11] and the genetic and environmental influences on social behaviours, such as coalition affiliation,[12] politics,[13] and altruism.[14] Working with Ian Deary, Paul Irwing, and Geoff Derr, he reported evidence for substantial gender differences in intelligence in the form of much larger variance amongst males than amongst females, with more boys and men scoring in both the extreme high range, and in the extreme low range.[15]


  1. "Timothy Bates – Psychology". School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  2. Bates, Timothy C.; Castles, Anne; Luciano, Michelle; Wright, Margaret J.; Coltheart, Max; Martin, Nicholas G. (2006). "Genetic and environmental bases of reading and spelling: A unified genetic dual route model". Reading and Writing. 20 (1–2): 147–171. doi:10.1007/s11145-006-9022-1.
  3. Bates TC, Luciano M, Castles A, Coltheart M, Wright MJ, Martin NG (February 2007). "Replication of reported linkages for dyslexia and spelling and suggestive evidence for novel regions on chromosomes 4 and 17". European Journal of Human Genetics. 15 (2): 194–203. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201739. PMID 17119535.
  4. Bates TC, Luciano M, Medland SE, Montgomery GW, Wright MJ, Martin NG (January 2011). "Genetic variance in a component of the language acquisition device: ROBO1 polymorphisms associated with phonological buffer deficits". Behavior Genetics. 41 (1): 50–7. doi:10.1007/s10519-010-9402-9. PMID 20949370.
  5. Bates TC, Lind PA, Luciano M, Montgomery GW, Martin NG, Wright MJ (December 2010). "Dyslexia and DYX1C1: deficits in reading and spelling associated with a missense mutation". Molecular Psychiatry. 15 (12): 1190–6. doi:10.1038/mp.2009.120. PMID 19901951.
  6. Weiss A, Bates TC, Luciano M (March 2008). "Happiness is a personal(ity) thing: the genetics of personality and well-being in a representative sample". Psychological Science. 19 (3): 205–10. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02068.x. PMID 18315789. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  7. Hendrickson, Donna E.; Hendrickson, Alan E. (1980). "The biological basis of individual differences in intelligence". Personality and Individual Differences. 1: 3–33. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(80)90003-3.
  8. Bates, T.; Eysenck, H.J. (1993). "String length, attention & intelligence: Focussed attention reverses the string length-IQ relationship☆". Personality and Individual Differences. 15 (4): 363–371. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(93)90063-9.
  9. Bates, T (1995). "Intelligence and complexity of the averaged evoked potential: An attentional theory". Intelligence. 20: 27–39. doi:10.1016/0160-2896(95)90004-7.
  10. Bates, T (1998). "Improved reaction time method, information processing speed, and intelligence". Intelligence. 26: 53–62. doi:10.1016/S0160-2896(99)80052-X.
  11. Bates TC, Price JF, Harris SE, Marioni RE, Fowkes FG, Stewart MC, Murray GD, Whalley LJ, Starr JM, Deary IJ (July 2009). "Association of KIBRA and memory". Neuroscience Letters. 458 (3): 140–3. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2009.04.050. PMID 19397951.
  12. Lewis GJ, Bates TC (November 2010). "Genetic evidence for multiple biological mechanisms underlying in-group favoritism". Psychological Science. 21 (11): 1623–8. doi:10.1177/0956797610387439. PMID 20974715. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  13. Lewis GJ, Bates TC (August 2011). "From left to right: How the personality system allows basic traits to influence politics via characteristic moral adaptations". British Journal of Psychology. 102 (3): 546–58. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02016.x. PMID 21752005.
  14. Lewis GJ, Bates TC (August 2011). "A common heritable factor influences prosocial obligations across multiple domains". Biology Letters. 7 (4): 567–70. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.1187. PMC 3130221. PMID 21307044.
  15. Deary, I; Irwing, P; Der, G; Bates, T (2007). "Brother–sister differences in the g factor in intelligence: Analysis of full, opposite-sex siblings from the NLSY1979". Intelligence. 35 (5): 451–456. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.09.003.
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