Emeritus Professors

Professor Debi Roberson

Staff positionEmeritus Professor

 Debi Roberson obtained her PhD at the University of London in 1999. She joined the Department at Essex in 2000. She is interested in all areas of cross-cultural differences and similarities in cognition in children and adults and conducts fieldwork in Namibia, China, Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Egypt. 

Research interests

  • The relationship between language and thought
  • The development of categorization in children
  • Categorization of colors, face identity and facial expressions
  • Categorical perception

Roberson, D. & Whitaker, L. (in press) Comment on “Language and Emotion”: Metaphor, morality and contested concepts. Emotion Review.

Liu, Q., Lin, S., Zhao, G. & Roberson, D. (2016) The effect of modulating top-down attention deployment on the N2pcPCN. Biopsychology, 117, 187-193.

Kikutani, M., Ikemoto, K, Russell, J. & Roberson, D. (2016) Cultural influences on the structure of emotion: An investigation of emotional situations described by individuals in Cambodia, Japan, UK and US. International Journal of Applied Psychology, 6, 20-26.

Li, P., Song, X., Wang, J., Zhou, X., Li, J., Lin, F., Hu, Z., Zhang, X, Cui, H., Wang, W., Li, H., Cong, F. & Roberson, D. (2015) Reduced sensitivity to neutral feedback versus negative feedback in subjects with mild depression: evidence from event-related potentials study. Brain & Cognition, 100, 16-20.

Whitaker, L., Jones, C.R.G., Wilkins, A. & Roberson D., (2015) Judging the Intensity of Emotional Expression in Faces: the Effects of Colored Tints on Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research. DOI: 10.1002/aur.1506

Gendron, M., Roberson, D. & Barrett, L.F. (2015) Cultural variation in emotion perception is real: A response to Sauter et al., Psychological Science, 26: 357-359

Samuel, S., Roehr-Braken, K. & Roberson, D. (2015) ‘She says, he says’: Does the sex of an instructor interact with the grammatical gender of targets in a perspective-taking task? International Journal of Bilingualism. doi:10.1177/1367006915576831

Chen, Q., Roberson, D., Liang, X, Lei, Y. & Li, H, (2014) Accessing the asymmetrical representations of causal relations and hierarchical relations in semantic memory, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26, 559-570.

Roberson, D. (2014) Mind the Translation Gap. Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities.

Gendron, M., Roberson, D., van der Vyver, J. M., & Barrett, L. F (2014). Perceptions of emotion from facial expressions are not culturally universal: Evidence from a remote culture. Emotion, 14, 251-262.
Gendron, M., Roberson, D., van der Vyver, J.M. & Barrett, L.F. (2014) Cultural Relativity in Perceiving Emotion From Vocalizations. Psychological Science, DOI: 10.1177/0956797613517239.
Hu, Z., Hanley, J.R., Liu, Q, Zhang, R., & Roberson, D., (2014) A conflict-based model of color categorical perception: Evidence from a priming study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, (in press).
Zhang, R., Hu, Z., Roberson, D., Zhang, L., Li, H., & Liu, Q. (2013). Neural processes underlying the ‘‘same’’-‘‘different’’ judgment of two simultaneously presented objects - an EEG study. PLoS ONE, 8(12): e81737.
Roberson, D., Kikutani, M., Döge, P., Whitaker, L. & Majid, A. (2012) When less is more: what the addition of sunglasses or masks to faces reveals about the development of facial expression processing. Cognition, 125,195-206.
Roberson, D. (2012) Do we see the world through the t(a)inted lens of language. Invited Chapter in: Advances in Culture and Psychology, Chapter 1, Volume 2, Michele Gelfand, CY Chiu, and Ying-Yi Hong, Editors. Oxford, USA: Oxford University Press.
Hanley, J.R. & Roberson, D (2011) Categorical perception effects reflect differences in typicality on within-categoy trials. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 355-363
Kikutani, M., Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (2011) Categorical perception for unfamiliar faces: effect of covert and overt face learning. Psychological Science, 18, 865-872.
Ramos, S.D. & Roberson, D (2011) What constrains grammatical gender effects on semantic judgments? Evidence from Portuguese. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 23, 102-111.
Roberson, D., Damjanovic, L. & Kikutani, M. (2010) Show and tell: the role of language in categorizing facial expression of emotion. Emotion Review. 2, 255-260.
Damjanovic, L Roberson, D., Athanasopoulos, P., Kasai, C. & Dyson, M. (2010) Searching for happiness across cultures. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 10, 85-107.
Roberson, D., Hanley, J.R., & Pak, H.S. (2009) Thresholds for colour discrimination in English and Korean speakers. Cognition, 112, 482-487.
Roberson, D. (2009) Color in mind, culture and language. In: Schaller, M., Norenzayan, A., Heine, S.H., Yamagishi, T. & Kameda, T. (Eds.) Evolution, Culture and the Human Mind, 167-184. Hove: :Psychology Press.
Agrillo, C. & Roberson, D. (2009) Colour language and colour cognition: Brown and Lenneberg revisited. Visual Cognition, 17, 412-430
Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (2009) Relatively speaking: what is the relationship between language and thought in the color domain? Glimpse, 2:3, 68-77
Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (2009). Only half right: Comment on Regier & Kay. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 500.
Goldstein, J., Davidoff, J. & Roberson, D. (2009) Knowing color terms enhances recognition: Further evidence from English and Himba. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 219-238.
Roberson, D., Pak, H.S. & Hanley, J.R. (2008) Categorical perception of colour in the left and right visual field is verbally mediated: Evidence from Korean. Cognition, 107, 752-762.
Kikutani, M., Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (2008) What's in the name? Categorical Perception of unfamiliar faces can occur through labelling. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 787-794
Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (2007) Color categories vary with language after all. Current Biology, 17, 605-606.
Heaton, P., Ludlow, A. & Roberson, D. (2008) When less is more: poor discrimination but good colour memory in Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders,2, 147-156.
Pak, H.S. & Roberson, D. (2009) Unique Hue Judgment in Different Languages: A Comparison of Korean and English, Journal of Cognitive Science, 10, 21- 40.
Roberson, D. & Pak, H.S. (2009) Categorical Perception of Color is Restricted to the Right Visual Field in Korean Speakers Who Maintain Central Fixation. Journal of Cognitive Science, 10, 41- 51.
Roberson, D. & Hanley, J.R. (Forthcoming) Relatively speaking; An account of the relationship between language and thought in the color domain. B.Malt & P. Wolff (Eds). "Words and the World: How words capture human experience". Oxford University Press.
Hanley, J.R. & Roberson, D. (2008). Do infants see colors differently? Scientific American Mind and Brain.
Jameson, K. A., Bimler, D., Dedrick, D. & Roberson, D. (2007). "Considering the Prevalence of the Stimulus Error in Color Naming Research." Journal of Cognition & Culture, 7, 124-142
Roberson, D., Damjanovic, L. & Pilling, M (2007) Categorical Perception of Facial Expressions: Evidence for a 'Category Adjustment' model. Memory & Cognition, 35, 1814-1829.
O'Hanlon, C.G. & Roberson, D. (2007) What constrains children's learning of novel shape terms? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 97, 138-148.
O'Hanlon, C.G. & Roberson, D. (2006) Learning in Context: Linguistic and attentional constraints on children's color term learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 94, 275-300.
Russo, R., Whittuck, D., Roberson, D., Dutton, K,. Georgiou, G. & Fox , E.(2006) Mood-congruent free-recall bias is not in anxious individuals is not a consequence of response bias. Memory , 14, 393-399.
Roberson, D. (2005) Color categories are culturally diverse in cognition as well as in language. Cross-Cultural Research, 39, 56-71.
Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I. & Shapiro, L. (2005) Colour categories: Evidence for the cultural relativity hypothesis. Cognitive Psychology, 50, 378-411.
Roberson, D., Davies, I.R.L., Corbett, G. & Vandervyver, M. (2005) Freesorting of colors across cultures: Are there universal grounds for grouping? Journal of Cognition and Culture, 5, 349-386.
Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I.R.L. & Shapiro, L. R. (2004) The Development of Color Categories in Two languages: a longitudinal study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 554-571.
Davidoff, J. & Roberson, D. (2004) Preserved thematic and impaired taxonomic categorisation: A case study. Language & Cognitive Processes, 19, 137-174.
Roberson, D., Davies I. & Davidoff, J. (2002) Colour categories are not universal: Replications and new evidence . In B. Saunders & J. van Brakel (Eds.) Theories, technologies, instrumentalities of color:
Davidoff, J. & Roberson, D. (2002) Development of animal recognition: A difference between parts and wholes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 81, 217-234.

Roberson, D., Davidoff, J. & Shapiro, L. (2002) Squaring the circle: The cultural relativity of good shape. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2, 29-53
Roberson, D., Davies I. & Davidoff, J. (2000) Colour categories are not universal: Replications and new evidence from a Stone-age culture. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General , 129, 369-398.
Roberson, D. & Davidoff, J. (2000) The categorical perception of colours and facial expressions: The effect of verbal interference. Memory & Cognition, 28, 977-986.
Roberson, D., Davidoff, J. & Braisby, N. (1999) Similarity and categorisation: Neuropsychological evidence for a dissociation in explicit categorisation tasks. Cognition 71, 1-42.
Davidoff, J., Davies, I. & Roberson, D. (1999) Colour categories of a stone-age tribe. Nature 398, 203-204 & 402, 604-604.
Russo R, Patterson N, Roberson D, Stevenson N, Upward J. (1996) Emotional value of information and its relevance in the interpretation of homophones in anxiety. Cognition & Emotion, 10, 213-220.

Additional information

 Visiting Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China.

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