Photo of Christopher Watkins

Christopher Watkins

Senior Lecturer

  • 513 Citations
  • 15 h-Index
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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 have published 31 peer-reviewed scientific papers, which includes 18 first-authored papers, 9 papers independent of PhD team, 4 sole-authored papers and 5 student-authored papers as PI (WoS statistics, 07/19: h index = 13, citations = 423, most cited paper = 59 citations). I have also published 6 book chapters and 1 magazine article and delivered 8 peer-reviewed conference papers, 1 invited talk and 16 conference posters. My research has attracted funding from The Carnegie Trust, The Experimental Psychology Society, Human Behavior and Evolution Society and the European Human Behavior and Evolution Association.

I am primarily interested in social judgements of faces and voices, in order to understand social interactions with possible romantic partners and associates. My work has attracted media attention with over 130 articles in international outlets and news media, including ScienceAPS Observer, The Atlantic, BBC, New York Post, The Times, The Australian, Hindustan Times and South China Morning Post. I have consolidated evidence from my recent research in a book chapter (Facial Displays of Leaders, Palgrave), and I am Section Editor for The Encyclopaedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (Springer). My TEDx talk can be accessed here: 

Prospective MbR/PhD students can visit my website ( or contact me directly if they wish to discuss potential research opportunities.


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); PSY404: Mental Health and Ageing; PSY103: Evidence-based thinking. 

I have been nominated for three and co-won one Student Led Teaching Award since commencing my post at Abertay. I am Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Current PG Supervision: Jordan Sculley 

Project supervision and mentoring are important parts of my teaching. To date, I have supervised 58 students and/or funded Research Assistants (including 2 PhD and 4 MbR students) and have also supervised several volunteer RA's under the School's Research Volunteer Scheme. Supervision and working with students as PI has so far generated 4 peer-reviewed papers (Cowan et al., 2016; James et al., 2018; Watkins et al., 2019, 2017) and 8 peer-reviewed international conference outputs (Sculley et al., 2019, 2018; Tilley et al., 2014; Watkins & Leitch, 2018; Watkins et al., 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015).

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.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in collaboration or in conducting a postgraduate project under my supervision.

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Research Output 2010 2020

14 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
Mental Competency
Open Access


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

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

20 Downloads (Pure)

National income inequality predicts cultural variation in mouth to mouth kissing

Watkins, C. D., Leongómez, J. D., Bovet, J., Zelazniewicz, A., Korbmacher, M., Correa Varella, M. A., Fernandez, A. M., Wagstaff, D. & Bolgan, S., 30 Apr 2019, In : Scientific Reports. 9, 9 p., 6698.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Pair Bond
Open Access
political attitude
personality traits


Cooperation, reminiscence and repeated interviews of suspects

Author: Scott, L., Aug 2016

Supervisor: Watkins, C. D. (Supervisor) & La Rooy, D. J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters by Research


Examining the efficacy of joint investigative interview training through analysing the quality of interview conducted with role-play actors

Author: Nicol, A., 14 Aug 2017

Supervisor: Watkins, C. D. (Supervisor), Woolnough, P. (Supervisor), La Rooy, D. J. (Supervisor) & Gabbert, F. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Personality, appearance and temporal responses to potential romantic partners

Author: Evans, G., Aug 2016

Supervisor: Watkins, C. D. (Supervisor) & Wright, L. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters by Research