My research interests are in evolutionary psychology, behavioural ecology and evolutionary medicine. To varying extent, the role and importance of olfaction underpins my work in each of these areas. My work on human mate choice focuses on indicators of genetic quality and compatibility, especially how MHC genes are implicated in producing characteristic phenotypes and their influence on mate choice decisions. I am also interested in how modern cultural practices such as use of cosmetics, perfumes and hormonal contraception disrupt apparently adaptive mate preferences, and the public health consequences of these effects. Other work includes effects of colour on social perception, non-verbal human communication, determinants of facial attractiveness, communication using pheromones, and applications of evolutionary psychology in wider society (I am currently editing an OUP book on this topic).
Current Research Funding:
2011-2012. Consequences of using hormonal contraception during partner choice. £98,682. ESRC. PI, with Dr Anthony Little (University of Stirling).
2010-2011. Linking odour chemistry to human social behaviour. £11,236. Royal Society International Joint Project grant. PI, with Dr J Christensen (Dept of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen) and Dr Patrizia d’Ettorre (University of Paris 13).
2010. Influence of odour on self-confidence and non-verbal behaviour. £21,849. Unilever R&D, Port Sunlight.
Previously, I ran the MSc in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool. I currently supervise 3 PhD students, working on mate choice copying, pheromonal communication and evolutionary approaches to music.
To download PDF's of recent articles please click here In press
Ferdenzi C, Schirmer A, Roberts SC, Delplanque S, Porcherot-Lassallette C, Cayeux I, Velazco M, Sander D, Scherer KR, Grandjean D. Affective dimensions of odor perception: a comparison between Swiss, British and Singaporean populations. Emotion (in press)
Ferdenzi C, Lemaître J-F, Leongómez JD, Roberts SC. Digit ratio (2D:4D) predicts facial, but not voice or body odour, attractiveness in men. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (in press)
Roberts SC, Ferdenzi C, Kralevich A, Little AC, Jones BC, DeBruine LM, Havlicek J. Body odor quality predicts behavioral attractiveness in humans. Archives of Sexual Behavior (in press)
Roberts SC. 2011. Applied Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford University Press.
Roberts SC. 2011. Applying evolutionary psychology. In: Roberts SC (ed.), Applied Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford University Press.
Roberts SC, Havlicek J. 2011. Evolutionary psychology and perfume design. In: Roberts SC (ed.), Applied Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford University Press.2011
DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Watkins CD, Roberts SC, Little AC, Smith FG, Quist MC. 2011. Opposite-sex siblings decrease attraction, but not prosocial attributions, to self-resembling opposite-sex faces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108, 11710-11714
Jones BC, Vukovic J, Little AC, Roberts SC, DeBruine LM. 2011. Circum-menopausal changes in women’s preferences for sexually dimorphic shape cues in peer-aged faces. Biological Psychology 87, 453-455
Little AC, Connely J, Feinberg DR, Jones BC, Roberts SC. 2011. Human preference for masculinity differs according to context in faces, bodies, voices, and smell. Behavioral Ecology 22, 862-868
Saxton TK, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Little AC, Roberts SC. 2011. A longitudinal study of adolescents’ judgments of the attractiveness of facial symmetry, averageness and sexual dimorphism. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 9, 43-55
Burriss RP, Roberts SC, Welling LLM, Puts DA, Little AC. Heterosexual romantic couples mate assortatively for facial symmetry, but not masculinity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 37, 601-613.
Ferdenzi C, Roberts SC, Schirmer A, Delplanque S, Cayeux I, Porcherot-Lassallette C, Velazco MI, Sander D, Scherer KR, Grandjean D. Structure and variability of odor-related affective feelings. Chemical Senses 36, E73.
Cobey KD, Pollet TV, Roberts SC, Buunk AP. 2011. Hormonal birth control use and relationship jealousy: evidence for estrogen dosage effects. Personality and Individual Differences 50, 315-317. 2010
Saxton TK, Kohoutova D, Roberts SC, Jones BC, DeBruine LM, Havlicek J. 2010. Age, puberty and attractiveness judgments in adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 857-862.
Roberts SC, Miner EM, Shackelford TK. 2010. The future of an applied evolutionary psychology for human partnerships. Review of General Psychology 14, 318-329.
Roberts SC, Owen RC, Havlicek J. 2010. Distinguishing between perceiver and wearer effects in clothing color-associated attributions. Evolutionary Psychology 8, 350-364.
Havlicek J, Murray AK, Saxton TK & Roberts SC. 2010. Current issues in the study of androstenes in human chemosignalling. Vitamins & Hormones 83, 47-81.
Ferdenzi C, Schaal B & Roberts SC. 2010. Family scents: developmental changes in the perception of kin body odour. Journal of Chemical Ecology 36, 847-854.
Vakirtzis A & Roberts SC. 2010. Nonindependent mate choice in monogamy. Behavioral Ecology 21, 898-901.
Little AC, Saxton TK, Roberts SC, Jones BC, DeBruine LM, Vukovic J, Perrett DI, Feinberg DR, & Chenore T. 2010. Women’s preferences for masculinity in male faces are highest during reproductive age-range and lower around puberty and post-menopause. Psychoneuroendrocrinology 35, 912-920.
Vakirtzis A & Roberts SC. 2010. Mate quality bias: sex differences in humans. Annales Zoologici Fennici 47, 149-157. 2009
Roberts SC & Lycett JE. 2009. Darwin in the workplace. The Psychologist 22, 970-973.
Saxton TK, Little AC, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Roberts SC. 2009. Adolescents’ preferences for sexual dimorphism are influenced by relative exposure to male and female faces. Personality and Individual Differences 47, 864-868
Saxton TK, Little AC, Rowland, HM, Gao, T & Roberts SC. 2009. Trade-offs between markers of absolute and relative quality in human facial preferences. Behavioral Ecology 20, 1133-1137
Saxton TK, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Little AC & Roberts SC. 2009. Face and voice attractiveness judgements change during adolescence. Evolution and Human Behavior 30, 398-408
Ferdenzi C, Schaal B & Roberts SC. 2009. Human axillary odor: Are there side-related perceptual differences? Chemical Senses 34, 565-571
Roberts SC. 2009. Complexity and context of MHC-correlated mating preferences in wild populations. Molecular Ecology 18, 3121-3123
Havlicek J & Roberts SC. 2009. Towards a neuroscience of love: olfaction, attention and a model of neurohypophysial hormone action. Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience (published online) doi:10.3389/neuro.18.002.2009
Vakirtzis A & Roberts SC. 2009. Mate choice copying and mate quality bias: different processes, different species. Behavioral Ecology 20, 908-911
Roberts SC, Saxton TK, Murray, AK, Burriss RP, Rowland HM, Little AC. 2009. Static and dynamic facial images cue similar attractiveness judgements. Ethology 115, 588-595
Saxton TK, Burriss RP, Murray AK, Rowland HM, Roberts SC. 2009. Face, body and speech cues independently predict judgments of attractiveness. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 7, 23-35
Lenochova P, Roberts SC, Havlicek J. 2009. Methods of human body odor sampling: the effect of freezing. Chemical Senses 34, 127-138
Havlicek J & Roberts SC. 2009. The MHC and human mate choice: a review. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34, 497-512
Roberts SC, Little AC, Lyndon A, Roberts J, Havlicek J & Wright RL. 2009. Manipulation of personal odor alters men's self-confidence and judgements of their visual attractiveness by women. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 31, 47-54
DeBruine LM, Smith FG, Jones BC, Roberts SC, Petrie M, Spector TD. 2009. Kin recognition signals in adult faces. Journal of Vision 49, 38-43
Ferdenzi C & Roberts SC. Human body odour asymmetry and mate quality. Chemical Senses 34, E35.
Roberts SC. 2009. Oreotragus oreotragus. In The Mammals of Africa. Vol. 6. Pigs, Deer, Giraffe, Bovids, and Hippos. Kingdon JS & Hoffmann M (eds). Academic Press, Amsterdam. (in press) 2008
Saxton TK, Lyndon A, Little AC, Roberts SC. 2008. Evidence that androstadienone, a putative human chemosignal, modulates women’s attributions of men’s attractiveness. Hormones and Behavior 54, 597-601
Savelev SU, Antony-Babu S, Roberts SC, Wang H, Clare AS, Gosling LM, Petrie M, Goodfellow M, O’Donnell AG, & Ward AC. 2008. Individual variation in 3-methylbutanal: a putative link between HLA and skin microflora. J.Chem.Ecol. 34, 1253-1257
Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, Petrie M. 2008. MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proc.R.Soc. B 275, 2715-2722
Havlicek J, Saxton TK, Roberts SC, Jozifkova E, Lhota S, Valentova J, Flegr J. 2008. He sees, she smells? Male and female reports of sensory reliance in mate choice and non-mate-choice contexts. Personality & Individual Differences. 45, 565-570
Roberts SC & Little AC. 2008. Good genes, complementary genes and human mate choice. Genetica 132, 309-321.
Roberts SC. 2008. Nonverbal communication of mate quality in humans. In Sociobiology of Communication: An interdisciplinary perspective. D’Ettorre P & Hughes DP (eds). Oxford University Press; pp 157-170
JL Hurst, RJ Beynon, SC Roberts and TD Wyatt (eds). 2008. Chemical Signals in Vertebrates XI. Springer, New York.
Saxton, T.K., Little, A.C. and Roberts, S.C. 2008. Ecological validity in the study of human pheromones. In JL Hurst, RJ Beynon, SC Roberts and TD Wyatt, eds. 2008. Chemical Signals in Vertebrates XI. Springer, New York. 2007
Little AC, Burriss RP, Jones BC, Roberts SC. 2007. Facial appearance affects voting decisions. Evolution and Human Behaviour 28, 18-27.
Roberts SC. 2007. Scent-marking. In Rodent Societies (Wolff JO & Sherman PW, eds.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago; pp 255-266. 2006
Saxton TK, Caryl PG, Roberts SC. 2006. Vocal and facial attractiveness judgments of children, adolescents and adults: the ontogeny of mate choice. Ethology 112, 1179-1185.
Roberts SC. 2006. Psychophysical tests of the vibration theory of olfaction. Chemical Senses 31, E74.
Pepper GV & Roberts SC. 2006. Rates of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and dietary characteristics across populations. Proc.R.Soc.Lond.B 273, 2675-2679.
Roberts SC, Hale ML, & Petrie M. 2006. Correlations between heterozygosity and measures of genetic similarity: implications for understanding mate choice. J. Evol. Biol. 19, 558-569. 2005
Rowe C, Harris J & Roberts SC. 2005. Seeing red? Putting sportswear in context. Nature 437, E10.
Roberts SC, Little AC, Gosling LM, Jones BC, Perrett D, Carter V & Petrie M. 2005. MHC-assortative facial preferences in humans. Biology Letters 1, 400-403.
Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Spector TD, Miller P, Penn DJ & Petrie M. 2005. Body odor similarity of non-cohabiting twins. Chemical Senses, 30, 651-656.
Havlicek J, Roberts SC & Flegr J. 2005. Women's preference for dominant male odour: effects of menstrual cycle and relationship status. Biology Letters. 1, 256-259.
Jones BC, Little AC, Boothroyd L, Feinberg DR, Cornwell RE, DeBruine LM, Roberts SC, Penton-Voak IS, Law Smith MJ, Moore FR, Davis HP & Perrett DI. 2005. Women's physical and psychological condition independently predict their preference for apparent health in faces. Evolution & Human Behaviour 26, 451-457.
Roberts SC, Little AC, Gosling LM, Perrett DI, Jones BC, Carter V, Penton-Voak IS & Petrie M. 2005. MHC-heterozygosity and human facial attractiveness. Evolution & Human Behavior 26, 213-226. 2004
Roberts SC, Havlicek J, Flegr J, Hruskova M, Little AC, Jones BC, Perrett DI & Petrie M. 2004. Female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Proc.R.Soc.Lond.B (Suppl.) 271, S270-272.
Roberts SC & Gosling LM. 2004. Manipulation of olfactory signalling and mate choice for conservation breeding: a case study of the harvest mouse. Conservation Biology 18, 548-556. 2003
Roberts SC & Gosling LM. 2003. Genetic quality and similarity interact in mate choice decisions by female mice. Nature Genetics 35, 103-106.
Roberts SC. 2003. Book review: Pheromones and Animal Behaviour, by T.D. Wyatt. Animal Behaviour, 66, 804-805.2001
Gosling LM & Roberts SC. 2001. Scent-marking by male mammals: cheat-proof signals to competitors and mates. Advances in the Study of Behaviour 30, 169-217.
Gosling LM & Roberts SC. 2001. Testing ideas about the function of scent marks in territories from spatial patterns. Animal Behaviour 62, F7-F10.
Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Thornton EA & McClung J. 2001. Scent-marking by male mice under the risk of predation. Behavioural Ecology 12, 698-705.
Roberts SC & Gosling LM. 2001. The economic consequences of advertising scent mark location in territories. In Chemical Signals in Vertebrates IX (A.Marchlewska-Koy, J.J. Lepri & D. Muller-Schwarze, eds), Kluver Academic/Plenum Press.
Roberts SC, Brotherton PNM, Luschekina AA, Kholodova MV & Milner-Gulland EJ. 2001. Gazelles, dwarf antelopes and saigas. In The Encyclopaedia of Mammals (D.W.Macdonald ed.), pp560-566. Andromeda Press.
Roberts SC. 2001. Book review: Antelopes, Deer and Relatives, edited by E.S. Vrba & G.B. Schaller. Quarterly Review of Biology 76, 365.2000 and before
Roberts SC & Dunbar RIM 2000. Female territoriality and the function of scent-marking in a monogamous antelope (Oreotragus oreotragus). Behav.Ecol.Sociobiol., 47, 417-23.
Gosling LM, Roberts SC, Thornton EA & Andrew MA 2000. Life history costs of olfactory status signalling in mice. Behav.Ecol.Sociobiol. 48, 328-332.
Carbone C, Mace G, Roberts SC & Macdonald DW 1999. Energetic constraints on the diet of terrestrial carnivores. Nature 402, 286-288.
Roberts SC 1998. Behavioural responses to scent marks of increasing age in klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus. Ethology 104, 585-592.
Roberts SC 1998. Long-term costs of the mopane worm harvest. Oryx 32, 6-8.
Roberts SC. 1998. On the scent of the klipspringer. BBC Wildlife 16 (5), 64-70.
Roberts SC & Lowen C 1997. Optimal patterns of scent marks in klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) territories. Journal of Zoology 243, 565-578.
Roberts SC 1997. Selection of scent-marking sites by klipspringers (Oreotragus oreotragus). Journal of Zoology 243, 555-564.
Roberts SC 1996. The evolution of hornedness in female ruminants. Behaviour 133, 399-442.
Roberts SC 1995. Gleaning in klipspringer preorbital glands by Redwinged Starlings and Yellowbellied Bulbuls. Ostrich 66, 147-148.
Roberts SC 1993. Yellowbellied Bulbul gleaning on a klipspringer. Ostrich 64, 136.
Dunbar RIM & Roberts SC 1992. Territory quality in mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula chanleri): Distance to safety. Ethology 90, 134-142.
Roberts SC & Dunbar RIM 1991. Climatic influences on the behavioural ecology of Chanler's mountain reedbuck in Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 29, 316-329.