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Christopher Watkins

Senior Lecturer

  • 542 Citations
  • 15 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal profile

I commenced my funded PhD in October 2010 (University of Aberdeen, supervised by Professor Benedict Jones), gained my lectureship in September 2012, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in August 2017. I am primarily interested in social judgements derived from physical cues (e.g., face and voice), in the context of romantic, cooperative, and competitive interactions.

I have published 32 peer-reviewed scientific papers (Nineteen first-authored: WoS statistics, 05/20: h index = 14, citations = 471, most cited paper = 65 citations), attracted media attention with over 130 articles in international outlets (e.g., ScienceAPS Observer, The Atlantic, BBC, New York Post, The Times, The Australian, Hindustan Times and South China Morning Post), and funding from The Carnegie Trust, The British Psychological Society, The Experimental Psychology Society, Human Behavior and Evolution Society and the European Human Behavior and Evolution Association. I am Section Editor for The Encyclopaedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (Springer), and Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports. Ten of my papers are published independent of my PhD team.

I am Programme Leader for BSc in Psychology and Counselling (2016 - present: NSS Overall satisfaction = 100% (2018), 93.3% (2019)), and have been nominated for three and co-won one Student Led Teaching Award since commencing my post. I am Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and External Examiner for The Open University (2020-2023). I have supervised sixty-seven students to date, including 6 postgraduates, generating four peer-reviewed papers and eight international conference outputs.


Programme Leader: BSc Psychology and Counselling (NSS "Overall satisfaction" = 100% in 2018 and 93.3% in 2019)

Current teaching:

PSY401 Human Evolutionary Psychology (Module Leader); PSY207 Philosophy of Science, Mind and Self (Module Leader); PSY410 Honours Project Module (Median = 6 supervisees p/a); PSY404: Mental Health and Ageing; PSY103: Evidence-based thinking. 

Current PG Supervision: Jordan Sculley

Research interests

What pulls us closer toward some people over others? Why do we look up to certain people (even if briefly) at the expense of others?

I am interested in how humans agree and differ in their judgements of attractiveness and whether our romantic preferences and sexuality provide a window into our evolutionary history. I am also interested in whether problems related to competition and cooperation faced by humans over evolutionary history have shaped our social judgements of others today. To date, most of this work has been conducted using computer graphic techniques inspired by Sir Francis Galton, which enables you to manipulate facial characteristics in order to test whether such manipulations have a corresponding effect on our first impression judgements of other people (e.g. by manufacturing two different versions of the same individual). My reserach interests bridge perspectives from cognitive, biological and social psychology with evolutionary biology, anthropology and zoology.

I am interested in hearing from potential collaborators or Postgraduate students in this area. Prospective MbR/PhD students can visit my website ( or contact me directly if they wish to discuss potential research opportunities.

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Research Output

Open Access
  • 51 Downloads (Pure)

    Using sexual selection theories to examine contextual variation in heterosexual women’s orientation toward high heels

    Watkins, C. D. & Leitch, A., 1 Apr 2020, In : Archives of Sexual Behavior. 49, 3, p. 849-860 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    41 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 40 Downloads (Pure)

    John Maynard Smith

    Watkins, C. D., 22 May 2019, Encyclopedia of evolutionary psychological science. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. (eds.). Living edition ed. Cham: Springer, 6 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Watkins, C. D., 12 Feb 2019, Encyclopedia of evolutionary psychological science. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. (eds.). Living edition ed. Cham: Springer, 3 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary