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Sean Roberts

Dr Sean Roberts


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 74826
John Percival Building, Room 3.65(a), Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Welsh speaking


I am an evolutionary psycholinguist with a multidisciplinary background in linguistics, artificial intelligence, evolution and cognition, and with expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methods. I research the origins and continuing evolution of languages, and how they adapt to individual cognition, interaction and their wider ecology.





Causal inference. I'm working on new statistical techniques to discover causal links in cross-cultural observational databases. This includes building the Causal Hypotheses in Evolutionary Linguistics. You can visit CHIELD here.

Future Time Reference (with Dr. Dermot Lynott, Lancaster University and Texture AI). We are developing a service that recognises real-time changes in risk taking from public social media, based on my research on how grammatical choices can reveal psychological attitudes to risk-taking.

Language Evolves (with Dr. Hannah Little, UWE Bristol and Dr. Catriona Silvey, UCL). We created a service that helps authors in the science fiction industry research and develop stories based on language evolution research. This includes an online course, an interactive workshop, and one-to-one sessions. An associated short story competition attracted 70 submissions and is being judged by Mary Doria Russell (winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award) and Gwyneth Lewis (former national poet of Wales). Visit our website.

Making conversations work, with Dr. Stephanie Rennick (Glasgow) uses my research on the structure of interactive conversation to improve video game dialogue systems. We held our first workshop for video game writers in November 2020, and are seeking to run more specialise workshops in the future.


I'm currently teaching Patterns of Language and Research Methods.


I did a PhD in linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, then held post-doc research positions at the Max-Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics and the University of Bristol (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship).