Doctor Rachel Robbins

Doctor Rachel Robbins

Adjunct Fellow,
Dean's Unit School Of Social Sciences & Psychology

Research Lecturer,
Psychology: Behavioural Science (ssap)


My general interest is in how experience and development change the way we see the world. I approach this question from many different angles, for example by comparing experts to non-experts, by looking at changes across development and by training people with specific sets of stimuli. Most of my work involves recognition of human faces; how we tell who someone is. I also study response to human bodies, and other stimuli including dogs and houses!

I was awarded my PhD in 2005 from the Australian National University. My Supervisor was A/Prof. Elinor McKone and my topic was the role of experience on face and object recognition. (This included testing dog-experts for how they recognise dogs and faces!) I spent 2005 teaching at the University of Canberra and then took a teaching/research post-doc at McMaster University in Canada. For 2006-2007 I worked with Profs Daphne Maurer and Terri Lewis on visual development and the effects of early deprivation on face and object recognition (including navigation). In 2008 I returned to Australia to take up a 2-year position at the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science (MACCS), Macquarie University, with Prof Max Coltheart investigating person recognition more generally. In 2010 I started as a Research Lecture at UWS in the School of Psychology with links to MARCS.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Robbins.


  • PhD The Australian National University
  • Bsc The Australian National University

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Dean's Unit School Of Social Sciences & Psychology
  • Psychology: Behavioural Science (ssap)


Phone: (02) 9772 6134
Location: 24.G.26

PLEASE NOTE: obtaining information from this Directory must be for the legitimate purposes of doing business with and within Western Sydney University, and must not be used for unsolicited bulk e-mailing (spamming) or similar purposes.


Previous Teaching Areas

  • 101541 Advanced Topics in Psychology, 2012
  • 101682 Developmental Psychology, 2015
  • B3037 Cognitive Processes, 2015


Chapters in Books

  • McKone, E. and Robbins, R. (2009), 'Are faces special?', The Handbook of Face Perception, Oxford University Press .
  • Robbins, R., Rhodes, G., Jaquet, E., McKone, E., Jeffery, L. and Clifford, C. (2005), 'Adaptation and face perception - How aftereffects implicate norm based coding of faces', Advances in Visual Cognition, Volume 3. Fitting the mind to the world: Adaptation and after-effects in High-level vision, Oxford University Press 9780198529699.

Journal Articles

  • Favelle, S., Tobin, A., Piepers, D., Burke, D. and Robbins, R. (2015), 'Dynamic composite faces are processed holistically', Vision Research, vol 112 , pp 26 - 32.
  • Robbins, R. and Coltheart, M. (2015), 'The relative importance of heads, bodies, and movement to person recognition across development', Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol 138 , pp 1 - 14.
  • Watson, T. and Robbins, R. (2014), 'The nature of holistic processing in face and object recognition : current opinions', Frontiers in Psychology, vol 5, no 3 , pp 1 - 2.
  • Vicary, S., Robbins, R., Calvo-Merino, B. and Stevens, C. (2014), 'Recognition of dance-like actions : memory for static posture or dynamic movement?', Memory and Cognition, vol 42, no 5 , pp 755 - 767.
  • Crookes, K. and Robbins, R. (2014), 'No childhood development of viewpoint-invariant face recognition : evidence from 8-year-olds and adults', Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol 126 , pp 103 - 111.
  • Watson, T., Robbins, R. and Best, C. (2014), 'Infant perceptual development for faces and spoken words : an integrated approach', Developmental Psychobiology, vol 56, no 7 , pp 1454 - 1481.
  • Escudero, P., Robbins, R. and Johnson, S. (2013), 'Sex-related preferences for real and doll faces versus real and toy objects in young infants and adults', Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol 116, no 2 , pp 367 - 379.
  • Bennetts, R., Kim, J., Burke, D., Brooks, K., Lucey, S., Saragih, J. and Robbins, R. (2013), 'The movement advantage in famous and unfamiliar faces : a comparison of point-light displays and shape-normalised avatar stimuli', Perception, vol 42, no 9 , pp 950 - 970.
  • Robbins, R. and Coltheart, M. (2012), 'The effects of inversion and familiarity on face versus body cues to person recognition', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, vol 38, no 5 , pp 1098 - 1104.
  • Robbins, R., Maurer, D., Hatry, A., Anzures, G. and Mondloch, C. (2012), 'Effects of normal and abnormal visual experience on the development of opposing aftereffects for upright and inverted faces', Developmental Science, vol 15, no 2 , pp 194 - 203.
  • Robbins, R. and Coltheart, M. (2012), 'Left-right holistic integration of human bodies', Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol 65, no 10 , pp 1962 - 1974.
  • Piepers, D. and Robbins, R. (2012), 'A review and clarification of the terms 'holistic', 'configural', and 'relational' in the face perception literature', Frontiers in Psychology, vol 3 , pp 1 - 11.
  • Robbins, R., Shergill, Y., Maurer, D. and Lewis, T. (2011), 'Development of sensitivity to spacing versus feature changes in pictures of houses: Evidence for slow development of a general spacing detection mechanism?', Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol 109, no 3 , pp 371 - 382.
  • Mondloch, C., Robbins, R. and Maurer, D. (2010), 'Discrimination of facial features by adults, 10-year-olds, and cataract-reversal patients', Perception, vol 39, no 2 , pp 184 - 194.
  • Robbins, R., Nishimura, M., Mondloch, C., Lewis, T. and Maurer, D. (2010), 'Deficits in sensitivity to spacing after early visual deprivation in humans : a comparison of human faces, monkey faces, and houses', Developmental Psychobiology, vol 52, no 8 , pp 775 - 781.
  • Robbins, R. and McKone, E. (2007), 'No face-like processing for objects-of-expertise in three behavioural tasks', Cognition, vol 103, no 1 , pp 34 - 79.
  • Robbins, R., McKone, E. and Edwards, M. (2007), 'Aftereffects for face attributes with different natural variability: adaptor position effects and neural models', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, vol 33, no 3 , pp 570 - 592.
  • McKone, E. and Robbins, R. (2007), 'The evidence rejects the expertise hypothesis: Reply to Gauthier & Bukach', Cognition, vol 103, no 2 , pp 331 - 336.
  • Robbins, R. and McKone, E. (2003), 'Can holistic processing develop with practice?', Cognition, vol 81, no 1 , pp 79 - 107.

Conference Papers

  • Traynor, N., Mulak, K., Robbins, R., Weidemann, G. and Escudero, P. (2016), 'The role of positive affect in the acquisition of word-object associations', Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, Parramatta, N.S.W..
  • Face Recognition
  • Object recognition
  • Sensitive periods in visual development

This information has been contributed by Doctor Robbins.


Doctor Robbins is available to be a principal supervisor for doctoral projects

Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Facial Processing in a more Naturalistic Context: What Impact does the use of Dynamic Facial Stimuli have on Holistic Processing?
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: The Role of Familiarity and Movement in Face Recognition
Thesis Title: Visual Memory for Human Action: Form and Motion-Based Processing in Action Recognition
Field of Research: PSYCHOLOGY
Thesis Title: Facial Processing in a more Naturalistic Context: What Impact does the use of Dynamic Facial Stimuli have on Holistic Processing?


Title: Eye colour and trust
Description: Comment on Cosmos Article
Title: How Zaddie become a ridiculously photogenic guy
Description: Comment on attractiveness

Western Sydney University

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751

Tel: +61 2 9852 5222

ABN 53 014 069 881
CRICOS Provider No: 00917k

Visit our mobile site