Debi Roberson


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

Samuel, S., Roehr-Brakin, K. & Roberson, D. (in press) “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.
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.
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., Dge, 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.

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