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Christopher Watkins

Senior Lecturer

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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 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, External Examiner for The Open University (2020-2023), Section Editor for The Encyclopaedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (Springer), and Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports.


I am primarily interested in social judgements based on physical cues (e.g., face and voice), in the context of romantic, cooperative, and competitive interactions. I have published over 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers (19 first-authored), which have attracted media attention with over 190 articles in international outlets (e.g., Science, Nature, British Medical Journal, New Scientist, The Atlantic, BBC, New York Post, The Times, The Australian, Hindustan Times, South China Morning Post). I have attracted funding (The Carnegie Trust, The British Psychological Society, The Experimental Psychology Society, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, European Human Behavior and Evolution Association) and awards over my academic career thus far (Norfolk Scholar, 2004; Sixth Century Studentship, 2009-2012; Ig Nobel Prize for Economics, 2020).


I am Programme Leader (2016-2021) for our accredited BSc in Psychology and Counselling (NSS Overall satisfaction 2018-2020 = 100%; 93.3%; 93.75%,, and have been nominated for three and co-won one Student Led Teaching Award since commencing my post. I have supervised 76 students to date, including 6 postgraduates, generating four peer-reviewed papers and eight international conference outputs.


Current teaching:

Postgraduate supervision (Jordan Sculley); PSY410 Honours Project Module (Median = 6 supervisees p/a); PSY311 Human Evolution: Sex, Cognition, and Culture (Module Leader); PSY207 Philosophy of Science, Mind and Self (Module Leader); PSY103: Evidence-based thinking (Contributor).

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 we agree and differ in our 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 research interests bridge perspectives from cognitive, biological and social psychology with evolutionary biology, anthropology and zoology.


Prospective collaborators or MbR/PhD students who are interested in these areas can visit my website ( or contact me directly if they wish to discuss potential research opportunities.


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