Department of Psychology


Photo of Dr Bridget Waller

Dr Bridget Waller

  • Qualifications: BSc, MSc, PhD
  • Role Title: Reader in Evolutionary Psychology
  • Address: King Henry Building, King Henry 1st Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2DY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6639
  • Email:
  • Department: Department of Psychology
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I am the Director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology and a Reader in Evolutionary Psychology. The overarching focus of my work is the evolution of social communication, and I am interested in how and why communication is important in social interaction. I am particularly interested in human and non-human primate facial expression, and use species-specific modifications of FACS (Facial Action Coding System) to make anatomically based, systematic comparisons between species.

I completed my PhD in 2005, working on the Chimpanzee Facial Action Coding Scheme project (with Kim Bard, Lisa Parr, Sarah-Jane Vick and Marcia Smith Pasqualini). Prior to working at the University of Portsmouth I completed my Masters in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool, was a Research Assistant in Cognitive Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, and studied Zoology as an undergraduate at Royal Holloway University of London.

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach Biological Psychology, Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology (Unit Coordinator) and Key Ideas in Psychology.  I also supervise undergraduate dissertations on facial expression/emotion, social cognition, evolutionary psychology, primate behaviour and human-animal interaction, as well as MSc and PhD theses.

Research Interests

Macaque Cognition: Cognitive studies with zoo-housed macaques using touchscreen tasks to investigate their understanding of social signals (Owl and Monkey Haven, Isle of Wight and Marwell Wildlife, Winchester), with Jerome Micheletta

Comparative facial expression: Morphological and functional comparisons between humans and other primates species using modifications of the human Facial Action Coding System (FACS), such as chimpanzees, macaques, orangutans and hylobatids.

Domestication and communication: Anatomically based analyses of domestic animal facial movements (using DogFACS and CatFACS), with Juliane Kaminski and Daniel Mills.

Evolution and human communication: Functional, evolutionary based approaches to human facial expression as an adaptation to social living.


View all publications on Parade…


Feline Friends Research Donation ‘Development of CatFACS: a facial action coding system for felids’ to Bridget Waller, 2013-2014, £10,000

Leakey Foundation Research Grant ‘Adaptive function of facial displays in crested macaques (Macaca nigra)’ to Bridget Waller and Jerome Micheletta, 2013-2014, $19,548

British Psychological Society Public Engagement Grant ‘Development and evaluation of interactive exhibits promoting comparative psychology in a zoo environment’ to Katie Slocombe and Bridget Waller, 2012-2013, £19,340

Waltham Foundation (Research Grant) 'The dog-human bond: Does facial communication influence shelter dog re-homing selection?', to Bridget Waller (PI), Juliane Kaminski and Anne Burrows, 2011-2012, $14,930.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Extension Research Grant ‘Comparing emotional expression across species – development of a FACS for gibbons’ to Katja Liebal, Bridget Waller, Anne Burrows, 2011-2012, 39,000 Euro.

Nuffield Student Science Bursary ‘Analysis of facial muscle movements in cooperative tasks: does facial movement help us cooperate? 2011, £1,440.

University of Portsmouth Science Faculty Special Project Grant, ‘Establishing a zoo-based facility for cognitive research with crested macaques’ to Bridget Waller (PI), 2009 - ongoing, £25,000

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Grant ‘Comparing emotional expression across species – development of a FACS for gibbons’ to Katja Liebal, Bridget Waller, Anne Burrows. 2009-2011, 143,300 Euro.

Nuffield Student Science Bursary ‘Faking it: Analysing the muscle movements of smiling in persuasive contexts’, 2009, £1,440.

National Institute of Health Research RO3 Grant ‘Development of a Rhesus Macaque Facial Action Coding System’ to Lisa Parr (PI), Bridget Waller et al. 2008-2010, $200,231.


Lisa Parr (Yerkes National Primate Center, Emory University)

Anne Burrows (Department of Physical Therapy, Duquense University)

Katie Slocombe (Department of Psychology, University of York) 

Alice Samson (Archeology, Universiteit Leiden)

Katja Liebal (Cluster Languages of Emotion, Frei Universitat Berlin)


Postgraduate Research Supervised

Catia Caeiro (CatFACS RA)

Jamie Whitehouse (Leakey Foundation RA)

Patrizia Piotti (supervisory team)

Jerome Micheletta (first supervisor, completed 2012)

Gary Lancaster (supervisory team, completed 2012)

Abby Chipman (supervisory team, completed 2013)