School of Psychology - Activities - Featured Researchers - Mark Horswill

Featured Researcher - Mark Horswill

Associate Professor Mark Horswill researches the role of drivers’ inability to detect dangerous situations

Mark Horswill

How did you get into psychology?

I started a degree in cybernetics and was forced to choose a subsidiary topic, and I chose psychology because the word sounded interesting. Luckily the subject turned out to be interesting too and so I swapped into a joint degree in cybernetics and psychology (where these two subjects are less compatible than you might expect).

What do you think makes a good psychology researcher?

A passion verging on zealotry; an unhealthy level of tenacity; the ability to think big and think small (not forgetting medium); a pathological attention to detail; an impractical level of integrity.

What are you researching at the moment?

(1) Drivers’ hazard perception

One of the most efficient methods of addressing overpopulation globally has been the use of car crashes. I’ve spent the last twenty years researching the role of drivers’ inability to detect dangerous situations on the road ahead (which has been empirically associated with crash risk and its main correlates, including inexperience, fatigue, distraction, age, bad vision, and alcohol). My team developed the hazard perception test currently used in Queensland as part of the driver licensing process, and we are developing methods of training hazard perception skill.

(2) Design of medical charts

A surprisingly large number of people die unnecessarily in hospital due to inadequate monitoring. A key factor in detecting factors such as patient deterioration is the use of medical charts, and the design of these charts has a dramatic effect on how many errors are made by hospital staff. We’re involved in designing, developing, and testing these charts, using usability principles.

(3) Training surgical skills

Surgery is difficult and so is training the surgical skills required. We’re looking at the best way to use medical simulators to help doctors obtain the necessary skills in the most efficient way possible (while minimizing the amount to which they have to figure out techniques using real people).

Tell us something that people might be interested to know about you?

I was President of the Reading University Caving Club, where my leadership was associated with very low fatality rates. I have hiked across the largest desert in Europe in the wrong direction. I was songwriter and guitarist for the famous UK pop rock band Shifter (impressively we once turned a profit of four pounds for one gig). Like most of my colleagues, I write novels in my spare time, which I regard as the second most fun you can have on your own. My worst personal experience involves being caught [BLANK] by a large group of people, while being covered from head to toe in [BLANK], after [BLANK] in my [BLANK] (insert the most unpleasant things you can think of in the blank spaces and you won’t be far off).

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Created: Monday, 6th August 2012 by paulj
Modified: Monday, 6th August 2012 by paulj
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