Department of Psychology


Dr Marina Davila-Ross

  • Qualifications: PhD
  • Role Title: Senior Lecturer
  • Address: King Henry Building, King Henry 1st Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2DY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6634
  • Email:
  • Department: Department of Psychology
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I study the evolution of communication, cognition and emotions, by comparing orangutans, chimpanzees, and children in their natural social settings. My special interests are laughter and play in apes and humans, acoustics, language and multimodal communication, social learning and mimicking, personality, emotions and empathy, phylogenetic reconstructions, and conservation. Opportunities for student research:

Ape Field Research:

Personality traits and foraging skills of orangutans at different stages in the rehabilitation process (curiosity, spatial cognition etc.). Study sites: Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Borneo)

Multimodal communication, social play, and social learning in semi-wild chimpanzees of three colonies. Study site: Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, Zambia

(Related Link:

Comparative Psychology:

Research on positive communication in children (schools in Portsmouth) or other primates (Owl & Monkey Haven)

Teaching Responsibilities

Final year research project coordinator 

Field course in Borneo on Primate Behaviour and Ecology

Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology

Biological and Cognitive Psychology

Key Ideas in Human and Animal Psychology

Individual Differences and Psychometrics.


Laughter and laugh faces in apes and humans

The evolution of language and multimodal communication

Mimicking, emotional contagion and the evolution of empathy

Acoustics and facial expressions


Competition and cooperation

Development and social learning

Social bonding and play

Phylogenetic reconstructions of primate behaviours

Interactions between apes, humans, and interactive robots

Ape conservation


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile