Prof Deborah Roberson

Emeritus Professor
Department of Psychology
Prof Deborah Roberson
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873710

  • Location

    4.701, Colchester Campus



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

Research interests

The relationship between language and thought

The development of categorization in children

Categorization of colors, face identity and facial expressions

Categorical perception


Journal articles (46)

Whitaker, LR., Simpson, A. and Roberson, D., (2017). Brief Report: Is Impaired Classification of Subtle Facial Expressions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Related to Atypical Emotion Category Boundaries?. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 47 (8), 2628-2634

Whitaker, L., Jones, CRG., Wilkins, AJ. and Roberson, D., (2016). Judging the Intensity of Emotional Expression in Faces: the Effects of Colored Tints on Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research. 9 (4), 450-459

Samuel, S., Roehr-Brackin, K. and Roberson, D., (2016). ‘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. 20 (1), 40-61

Liu, Q., Lin, S., Zhao, G. and Roberson, D., (2016). The effect of modulating top-down attention deployment on the N2pc/PCN. Biological Psychology. 117, 187-193

Gendron, M., Roberson, D. and Barrett, LF., (2015). Cultural Variation in Emotion Perception Is Real: A Response to Sauter, Eisner, Ekman, and Scott (2015). Psychological Science

Li, P., Song, X., Wang, J., Zhou, X., Li, J., Lin, F., Hu, Z., Zhang, X., Cui, H., Wang, W., Li, H., Cong, F. and Roberson, D., (2015). Reduced sensitivity to neutral feedback versus negative feedback in subjects with mild depression: Evidence from event-related potentials study. Brain and Cognition. 100, 15-20

Hu, Z., Hanley, JR., Zhang, R., Liu, Q. and Roberson, D., (2014). A conflict-based model of color categorical perception: evidence from a priming study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 21 (5), 1214-1223

Chen, Q., Roberson, D., Liang, X., Lei, Y. and Li, H., (2014). Accessing the asymmetrical representations of causal relations and hierarchical relations in semantic memory. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. 26 (5), 559-570

Gendron, M., Roberson, D., van der Vyver, JM. and Barrett, LF., (2014). Cultural Relativity in Perceiving Emotion From Vocalizations. Psychological Science. 25 (4), 911-920

Roberson, D., (2014). Mind the translation gap. Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities

Gendron, M., Roberson, D., van der Vyver, JM. and Barrett, LF., (2014). Perceptions of emotion from facial expressions are not culturally universal: Evidence from a remote culture.. Emotion. 14 (2), 251-262

Zhang, R., Hu, Z., Roberson, D., Zhang, L., Li, H. and Liu, Q., (2013). Neural Processes Underlying the "Same" - "Different" Judgment of Two Simultaneously Presented Objects - An EEG Study. PLoS ONE. 8 (12), creators-Roberson=3ADebi=3A=3A

Roberson, D., Kikutani, M., D�ge, P., Whitaker, L. and Majid, A., (2012). Shades of emotion: What the addition of sunglasses or masks to faces reveals about the development of facial expression processing. Cognition. 125 (2), 195-206

Hanley, JR. and Roberson, D., (2011). Categorical perception effects reflect differences in typicality on within-category trials. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 18 (2), 355-363

Ramos, S. and Roberson, D., (2011). What constrains grammatical gender effects on semantic judgements? Evidence from Portuguese. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. 23 (1), 102-111

Kikutani, M., Roberson, D. and Hanley, JR., (2010). Categorical Perception for Unfamiliar Faces. Psychological Science. 21 (6), 865-872

Damjanovic, L., Roberson, D., Athanasopoulos, P., Kasai, C. and Dyson, M., (2010). Searching for Happiness Across Cultures. Journal of Cognition and Culture. 10 (1-2), 85-107

Roberson, D., Damjanovic, L. and Kikutani, M., (2010). Show and Tell: The Role of Language in Categorizing Facial Expression of Emotion. Emotion Review. 2 (3), 255-260

Roberson, D., Hanley, JR. and Pak, H., (2009). Thresholds for color discrimination in English and Korean speakers. Cognition. 112 (3), 482-487

Agrillo, C. and Roberson, D., (2009). Colour language and colour cognition: Brown and Lenneberg revisited. Visual Cognition. 17 (3), 412-430

Goldstein, J., Davidoff, J. and Roberson, D., (2009). Knowing color terms enhances recognition: Further evidence from English and Himba. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 102 (2), 219-238

Davidoff, J., Goldstein, J. and Roberson, D., (2009). Nature versus nurture: The simple contrast. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 102 (2), 246-250

Roberson, D. and Hanley, JR., (2009). Only half right: comment on Regier and Kay. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 13 (12), 500-501

Roberson, D. and Hanley, JR., (2009). Relatively speaking: what is therelationship between language and thought in the color domain?. Glimpse. 2.3, 68-77

Pak, H. and Roberson, D., (2009). Unique Hue Judgment in Different Languages: A Comparison of Korean and English. Journal of Cognitive Science. 10 (1), 21-40

Roberson, D., Pak, H. and Hanley, JR., (2008). Categorical perception of colour in the left and right visual field is verbally mediated: Evidence from Korean. Cognition. 107 (2), 752-762

Hanley, JR. and Roberson, D., (2008). Do Infants see cololurs differently. Sciencific American

Kikutani, M., Roberson, D. and Hanley, JR., (2008). What’s in the name? Categorical perception for unfamiliar faces can occur through labeling. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 15 (4), 787-794

Heaton, P., Ludlow, AK. and Roberson, D., (2008). When less is more: Poor discrimination but good colour memory in autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2 (1), 147-156

Roberson, D. and Hanley, JR., (2007). Color Vision: Color Categories Vary with Language after All. Current Biology. 17 (15), R605-R607

O'Hanlon, CG. and Roberson, D., (2007). What constrains children's learning of novel shape terms?. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 97 (2), 138-148

Jameson, K., Roberson, D., Dedrick, D. and Bimler, D., (2007). Considering the Prevalence of the "Stimulus Error" in Color Naming Research. Journal of Cognition and Culture. 7 (1), 119-142

O'Hanlon, CG. and Roberson, D., (2006). Learning in context: linguistic and attentional constraints on children's color term learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 94 (4), 275-300

Russo, R., Whittuck, D., Roberson, D., Dutton, K., Georgiou, G. and Fox, E., (2006). Mood-congruent free recall bias in anxious individuals is not a consequence of response bias. Memory. 14 (4), 393-399

Roberson, D., (2005). Color Categories Are Culturally Diverse in Cognition as Well as in Language. Cross-Cultural Research. 39 (1), 56-71

Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, IRL. and Shapiro, LR., (2005). Color categories: Evidence for the cultural relativity hypothesis. Cognitive Psychology. 50 (4), 378-411

Roberson, D., Corbett, G., Vandervyver, M. and Davies, I., (2005). Free-Sorting of Colors Across Cultures: Are there Universal Grounds for Grouping?. Journal of Cognition and Culture. 5 (3), 349-386

Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, IRL. and Shapiro, LR., (2004). The development of color categories in two languages: a longitudinal study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 133 (4), 554-571

Davidoff, J. and Roberson, D., (2004). Preserved thematic and impaired taxonomic categorisation: A case study. Language and Cognitive Processes. 19 (1), 137-174

Davidoff, J. and Roberson, D., (2002). Development of animal recognition: a difference between Parts and Wholes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 81 (3), 217-234

Roberson, D., Shapiro, L. and Davidoff, J., (2002). Squaring the Circle: The Cultural Relativity of 'Good' Shape. Journal of Cognition and Culture. 2 (1), 29-51

Roberson, D., Davies, I. and Davidoff, J., (2000). Color categories are not universal: replications and new evidence from a stone-age culture. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 129 (3), 369-398

Roberson, D. and Davidoff, J., (2000). The categorical perception of colors and facial expressions: The effect of verbal interference. Memory & Cognition. 28 (6), 977-986

Roberson, D., Davidoff, J. and Braisby, N., (1999). Similarity and categorisation: neuropsychological evidence for a dissociation in explicit categorisation tasks. Cognition. 71 (1), 1-42

Davidoff, J., Davies, I. and Roberson, D., (1999). Colour categories in a stone-age tribe. Nature. 398 (6724), 203-204

Russo, R., (1996). BRIEF REPORT: Emotional Value of Information and its Relevance in the Interpretation of Homophones in Anxiety. Cognition & Emotion. 10 (2), 213-220

Book chapters (3)

Roberson, D. and Richard Hanley, J., (2010). Relatively Speaking. In: Words and the Mind. Oxford University Press. 183- 198. 9780195311129

Roberson, D., (2009). Color in mind, culture and language. In: Evolution, Culture and the Human Mind. Editors: Schaller, M., Norenzayan, A., Heine, SJ., Yamagishi, T. and Kameda, T., . Psychology Press and Routledge. 167- 184. 9780805859119

Roberson, D., Davies, I. and Davidoff, J., (2002). Color categories are not universal: replications and new evidence. In: Theories, Technologies, Instrumentalities of Color Anthropological and Historiographic Perspectives. Editors: Saunders, B. and Brakel, VJ., . University Press of America. 25- 35. 978-0-7618-2265-3

Conferences (1)

Cinel, C., Poli, R., Citi, L. and Roberson, D., (2013). An exploration of the effects of audio-visual entrainment on Parkinson's disease tremor

+44 (0) 1206 873710


4.701, Colchester Campus