The following shows all potential Psychology Research Project Supervisors for 2016. Please note that this information is now being updated by supervisors for the 2016 cohort of honours students.
Use the links bellow to filter the Supervisors to a particular Research Area:
My research interests span psychological factors within the criminal justice system. In particular, I am interested in jury decision-making, particularly surrounding child witnesses and court processes, as well as perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy in both policing and the court system. Related to this, I also have a developing interest in partnerships in policing and how social psychological factors may play a role in determining the effectiveness and cooperativeness of those involved in these partnerships.
My research is primarily concerned with links between neural processing and conscious perceptual experience. Precisely what neural operations result in us 'seeing'?
One of my specific research themes is time perception. Different sensory experiences can be mediated by relatively independent systems, like vision and audition. So what processes allow us to judge the relative timing of different types of event?
Another line of research concerns face perception - what operations allow you to distinguish a male from a female face, or a familiar from an unfamiliar face.
Another major theme relates to sensory integration. Neural analyses can be relatively independent, like those for colour and movement. Yet we have apparently unified experiences. What processes are responsible for this sensory binding?
For further details, consult my home page. If you are contemplating an honours project on one of these, or a related topic, feel free to contact me via email or in person.
My research interests are in the areas of decision making and motivation. The project I will be conducting this year seeks to examine how people make decisions whilst juggling competing goals. For example, how do pilots and air traffic controllers meet the demand to be on time whilst maintaining safety? How do medical practitioners balance the need for effective treatment whilst minimising the risk of side effects to the patient?
I use laboratory experiments to investigate the psychological processes that underlie these types of decisions. I am particularly interested in understanding the influence of factors such as how the goals are framed, the level of uncertainty in the environment, how difficult the goals are to achieve, and time deadlines on which goal people decide to prioritise and how long it takes to make the prioritisation decision.
As a supervisor, I encourage my students to set short term goals that promote consistent progress throughout the year. I emphasise independence of thought and encourage students to develop their own ideas. I’m looking for students who are motivated and willing to work hard. In return, I will aim to not only help you do well in your thesis, but also to develop the skills necessary for life after honours. If you’re interested in chatting about supervision, please do send me an email and/or we can arrange a meeting.
I am a Research Fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute (Prof. Mattingley’s laboratory) and my areas of expertise are the cognitive and neural mechanisms of human memory.
This year I have a place for one Honours student to work with me on a project investigating the cognitive mechanisms of how we encode and retrieve natural scenes.
If you are interested and/or have further questions please write me an email.
My area of expertise is within the areas of cognitive control and attention and eye movements. If you're looking for an Honours Supervisor within this area and would like to talk to me, please contact me: email@example.com
Below you'll find some project outlines that are good examples of the kind of projects I'm offering. Students can develop their own research question within my research programme (revolving around attention) or choose from a multitude of projects. The choice of the Honours project and your workload depends, amongst other things, on your goals, interests, commitment and time contraints (relative to pre-existing skills). If you'd like to know more, you can check my personal website (www.sibecker.de), the lab webpage (http://remingtonlab.wordpress.com/), or browse these pages.
A selection of topics I am currently working on:
1. Emotional Faces: Recognition and Visual Search (with Prof. Ottmar Lipp).
2. Tracking the gaze of dogs: Understanding the cognitive abilities of dogs.
3. Visual search: Are items processed contingent on the context?
4. Colour search: Do semantic labels in language affect how we perceive colours?
5. Inattentional Blindness: What factors drive IB?
6. fMRI: The interplay between working memory and attention (with Prof Roger Remington and Jason Mattingley).
Detailed description of two selected projects:
1. Emotional Faces in Visual Search: Why do we find angry faces faster than friendly faces? (in collaboration with Ottmar Lipp).
In visual search, an angry face is detected faster among friendly faces than vice versa, a friendly face among angry faces. This 'anger superiority effect' has been attributed to the fact that angry faces are more relevant to survival. However, there is some indication that this effect may instead be due to salient perceptual characteristics of angry faces, such as an open mouth and the visibility of teeth. In the present study, we'll use eye tracking to measure which regions attract a person's gaze. The results will allow new insights into the question of whether the anger superiority effect is driven by perceptual or emotional factors.
2. How does Similarity affect Visual Search?
Visual Search is one of the most frequent activities in everyday life. Current models of visual search heavily rely on target-nontarget similarity to explain the difference between efficient search -- where we can immediately find the sought-after item -- and inefficient search -- where it takes a long time to find the target. However, surprisingly few studies have systematically investigated effects of similarity on visual search. In this study, we will systematically vary the similarity of target and nontargets while people search for a colour target and we measure people's eye movements. The results will give us a better understanding how and to what extent similarity really influences visual search.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) What kind of testing and data collection is usually needed or expected in this area for an honours student? What are the types of participants required, and the manner in which they will be recruited? When can testing start, and how much time is generally needed for completing the research?
>> I'm an Experimental Psychologist, so if you choose a project from my research programme, you'd be testing normal participants recruited via UQ's SONA paid participant pool in computer-based experiments. We can measure the response times, error rates, eye movements or EEG - multiple projects are available from which you can choose. Students are also encouraged to develop own ideas within the programme that they can test.
Usually, an honours thesis will include 2 experiments with n=16 subjects. Running two experiments with altogether 32 subjects is not time-consuming -- however, students often choose to run more experiments to get results that are more readily interpretable.
2) What is your supervision style like? - How much guidance would you give as a supervisor and your level of involvement? How often will we be meeting?
>> I usually offer to meet with my students once per week, and in between, we often communicate via email. My supervision style is tailored to the student's needs. Because of time constraints, I usually program the experiments and help a lot with the data analysis, but students can choose to do all these things on their own as well (or at least try).
3) How many honours students will you be taking on this year?
>> I usually take on 2-3 honours students.
4) Will you be away this year?
>> I may attend a conference or two during the Honours supervision period, but this will typically involve an absence of ~5 days at a maximum, and I will be contactable over the internet and email during these periods.
5) Have you supervised honours students before?
>> Yes, I've supervised about a dozen Honours students so far, and I currently supervise 3 PhD students and 3 research students.
6) Are there lab meetings?
>> We have weekly lab meetings, and a reading seminar. Honours students are welcome to attend to both, but it is not compulsory. The link to the lab webpage is here: http://remingtonlab.wordpress.com/
7) Do I need to have neuroscience knowledge?
>> This depends on the project: There are eye tracking and behavioural projects that do not require extensive knowledge about neuroscience. However, it probably won't hurt when you try to include studies in your thesis that have used a similar method as yours but have also measured EEG or BOLD responses (fMRI).
Honours projects in 2016 will investigate emotional and cognitive responses to multi–modal stimuli focusing on topics such as:
I am interested in research relating to supporting parents who are parenting in vulnerable or complex circumstances. In particular, I am interested in the impact of life-threatening illness in children (e.g., cancer, cardiac disease) on parent wellbeing and parenting practices and investigating the role of parenting interventions in improving health outcomes for seriously ill children.
I am also interested in research relating to parenting during the adolescent years.
In 2016 have a potential honours project investigating aspects of parenting and how they relate to adolescent wellbeing and risky behaviours.
Visual word identification and spelling in adults; memory and language; attention, especially in relation to word processing, and the phenomenon of repetition blindness. I also work in learning and memory, with a specific focus on the testing effect.
In 2016 I plan to offer one project in word identification, in either word repetition effects (costs and benefits) or phonological similarity effects for words with homophones (as in hair / hare). A second project will concern the testing effect in learning word pairs or the answers to trivia questions, with a focus on the memory processes that occur during retrieval practice.
I am interested in how and why we move the way we do. The human body is a complex mechanical system, and the challenge faced by the central nervous system in controlling desired movements is substantial. But we also live in a world full of choice. How do we decide what type of movement to make? How do we select movement characteristics - such as speed, which limb to use, and the trajectory of our joints – when many potential options will achieve our task goal?
I conduct human behavioural (using virtual reality systems and robotically modified mechanical environments), computational and neurophysiological (non-invasive brain stimulation, electromyography, etc) work to study the control of movement. I have honours projects available on what factors determine how we choose to share force between two arms in bimanual tasks, how recent movement (and reward) history influences limb and eye movements, and on the similarities in neural control systems for fast limb and eye movements (reaches vs saccades).
I work in a friendly, collaborative lab where multiple staff and students are doing overlapping types of work. Please feel free to contact me to get a feel for the potential projects, and/or to arrange a tour of our labs.
Psychological burden of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
Our research group is conducting a collaborative study that aims to investigate the psychosocial consequences of severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) through an online survey. Participants report extensive information on NVP severity, duration and impact of NVP for each pregnancy. The information includes quantitative measures of the physical, psychological and social impacts of NVP for participants. Currently, more than 1000 women have provided their data.
NVP is a risk factor for postnatal depression. We propose two research projects, to study: 1) the association between NVP and depression prior, during and after to pregnancy, and 2) the association between NVP and symptomatology of post-traumatic stress disorder.
My research investigates the relationship between eye-gaze patterns to emotional facial expressions and how these patterns may vary with trait empathy. I am particularly interested in the effect of eye-gaze upon social interaction and the development of empathic response.
I use eye-tracking systems and dynamic emotional stimuli to measure eye-gaze responses across varying facial areas of interest.
I am keen to work with motivated students who are interested in learning how to apply eye-tracking methods to emotion research.
In 2016 I will be supervising one honours student. Students are welcome to propose their own project. Potential thesis topics are available, and include but are not limited to:
Understanding how empathic responses may be evoked by exposure to different facial expressions and intensities of facial emotional stimuli.
Understanding the differences between male and female eye-gaze patterns, and empathic responses when exposed to crying faces of the same and opposite gender.
If you think this area of research may interest you and you'd like to meet to discuss, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: I will be overseas, and not available from the 30th of January to the 15th of February.
My research interests are at the intersection of clinical, health and social psychology.
In 2016, I am looking to supervise honours students on a project investigating the relationship between health risk behaviour, trust, and social identity.
Students will have the opportunity to provide input into the design of their experiment, with the possibility of focusing on percevied disease risk, the behavioural immune system, obsessive-compulsive thinking styles, the mediating role of trust and disgust, or health risk behaviours.
Note: Due to travel commitments I will not be available to meet with students between 22nd Jan - 5th Feb. However, I will be available to respond to email queries during this time. If you would like to meet to discuss your research interests prior to honours supervisor allocation, please contact me to organise a time prior to 22 Jan.
I have places for two Honours students to join my lab. My research focuses on brain function which underlies the selection and readiness for action and the role of the human "mirror" system in the perception and imitation of actions and gestures.
Research projects will use methods of functional brain imaging (fMRI) or EEG event-related potentials to examine the perception of observed hand actions, or the links between attention and the readiness for action.
My broad area of research expertise for honours thesis supervision is in the area of Clinical Psychology, and more specifically, in the area of pain (acute and chronic) assessment and management. I am interested in a cognitive-behavioural conceptualisation, with also a focus on the role of mindfulness and acceptance in the experience as well as management of pain.
My research examines processes involved in engaging communities in environmental issues, focusing on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. In particular, the environmental focus of my research involves urban water, and marine ecosystems.
Honours projects for 2015
These projects will integrate cognitive and social psychology, and will partner with Dr Kelly Garner (cognitive psychology, Dux lab, SLRC). For this project, two students will work together to recruit participants for a single experimental session incorporating both cognitive tasks and questionnaires.
This research will examine the following questions:
(i) How does message framing and other information characteristics influence engagement in environmental issues;
(ii) How do environmental values interest with information characteristics to influence engagement in environmental issues.
(iii) How do individual differences in information processing influence engagement in environmental issues.
I’m a clinical psychologist with basic and applied research interests in music and emotion. I’ve supervised 9 honours students so far, four of these have had their thesis published and a further two are in preparation for publication.
My supervision style is quite hands-on and I expect my students to attend research meetings, to communicate with me regularly throughout the year (regardless of how progress is going), and to be good team players with others involved in the project (often colleagues and clinical psychology interns). I’m not available to meet prospective students individually (I’m mostly working from home until my kids go back to school) but I will be at the Honours supervision Meet-and–Greet session, and can answer any questions you have on email.
In 2016, I am able to supervise 1 – 3 motivated students, with a choice from the following four potential projects that I think will make a significant contribution to theory or practice and give the student an interesting research experience:
Adolescents’ understanding of emotion (co-supervised by Dr Nicole Nelson, a developmental psychologist and emotion researcher: https://www.psy.uq.edu.au/directory/index.html?id=2414#_ )
This study would extend previous research by my 2014 Honours student Joe Hodges showing that compared to control adolescents, at-risk adolescents have limited knowledge of emotion words and generally weak awareness and regulation of their own emotional states. The student will work with me and Dr Nelson to develop and use stimuli to measure adolescents’ recognition of emotion in others’ facial expressions, body postures, and in music. The student will be expected to attend the UQ Emotion Research group (monthly meetings) as well as supervision meetings.
Background reading: Nelson, Nicole, & Russell, James. (2012). Children’s understanding of nonverbal expressions of pride. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, Issue 3.
2. Evaluation of a music meditation program (co-supervised by Dr Stan Steindl, a consultant Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Associate Professor: http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/teammemberprofile/dr-stan-steindl/ )
This study is designed to evaluate Convergence - a novel compassionate meditation approach using music. There is potential for the student to co-facilitate meditation groups in the UQ Psychology clinic and to collect data to compare music meditation with non-music meditation or another control program.
Galante, J., Galante, I., Bekkers, M. J., & Gallacher, J. (2014). Effect of kindness-based meditation on health and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82, 1101-1114.
Hoffmann, S. G., Grossman, P., & Hinton, D. E. (2011). Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological intervention. Clinical Psychology Review, 13, 1126–1132. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.003
3. Musical identity as a resource in recovery
Many people see themselves in relation to their membership of a band, choir, orchestra, or as a fan of particular types of music or particular artists. These musical identities may offer psychological resources in the same way that other social identities do. This study has the potential to investigate data already collected from an ARC funded project “Social Identities and Networks in Recovery” in relation to musical versus non-musical identities and outcomes from residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, and it will likely allow the student to design and collect new data on this topic.
Background reading: Dingle, G. A., Cruwys, T., & Frings, D. (2015). Social identities as pathways into and out of addiction. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 3389 http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01795/full
4. Alexithymia, musical sensitivity, rumination and response to sad music
This study will extend previous research by myself and others about factors determining when listening to music has a positive versus negative influence on mood. It will focus in particular on sad music, and on listener variables that may act as moderators of the link between music listening and emotional response, such as trait rumination and alexithymia. The student would be involved in developing and running a large online survey with music clips imbedded in it to allow for pre- and post-music measures.
Background reading: Sharman, L. & Dingle, G. A. (2015) Extreme metal music and anger processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, online open access: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00272/full
Garrido, S., & Schubert, E. (2013). Adaptive and maladaptive attraction to negative emotions in music. Musicae Scientiae, 17(2), 147–166
I will not be taking honours students in 2016.
I am a Research Fellow in the Parenting and Family Support Centre. My interest is in the broad impact of quality parenting on important developmental outcomes for children and adolescents (e.g., emotion competence, reading development, school readiness, positive youth development), and the use of the evidence-based parenting program, Triple P, as a means of experimentally testing this issue. I am also interested in ways that we can train and support other important caregivers (e.g. early childhood educators) in children's lives to promote children’s prosocial behaviour and learning skills and reduce child behaviour problems.
My research concerns how evolutionary processes have shaped judgments of sexually dimorphic traits in men and women.
Potential honours projects include:
1. Mulitvariate approaches to the evolution of body shape and body image.
2. Factors underpinning variation in men's beardedness.
3. Cross-cultural and ethnographic studies of human mating behaviour.
I am a Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Psychology. My laboratory, the “Queensland Attention and Control Lab”, conducts cognitive-neuroscientific research on human information processing, with a specific focus on the cognitive and neural underpinnings of human capacity limitations related to attention (e.g., why humans can’t do two things at once - multitasking). In addition, I have a specific interest in how coginitive training can enhance attentional performance. The lab uses a variety of behavioural, neuroimaging (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging - fMRI) and neurostimulation techniques (e.g., transcranial direct current stimulation - tDCS) to investigate these broad topics and employs both group and individual differences analyses. To learn more about the research conducted in the lab please visit www.paulduxlab.org. In addition, if interested in working in the lab, I strongly recommend that you email me (email@example.com) to set up a meeting.
My main focus is the psychology of environmental sustainability. I’m interested in understanding the determinants of pro-environmental decisions and developing evidence-based strategies for promoting more sustainable behaviours. My current research includes projects investigating how to communicate effectively about climate change, understanding public responses to alternative water sources, the role of norms in influencing pro-environmental behaviour, and promoting workplace pro-environmental behaviour.
Stand up to dementia: Exploring relationships between prolonged sitting and cognitive function.
Dementia is characterized by a decline in cognition involving one or more cognitive domains (learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor, social cognition). In the absence of effective pharmacological strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, there has been a call to focus preventive efforts on behavioural risk factors.
Prolonged sitting is a ubiquitous health risk with high levels of sitting linked to premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, regardless of levels of physical activity. People can meet physical activity guidelines (30 minutes on most days of the week) and still have high levels of sitting. There is emerging evidence from observational studies that high levels of television viewing time (a common sedentary behaviour) are related to poorer cognition (executive function and global cognitive function) and development of Alzheimer’s Disease at follow-up, even after controlling for physical activity levels, suggesting an independent association. In contrast one study reported that high levels of computer use (another increasingly prevalent sedentary behaviour) are associated with improvements in verbal memory and executive function at follow-up.
This project explores the relationships of prolonged sitting with dementia and cognitive function using population-based datasets or data collected by the student. There are also opportunities to conduct formative work to inform an intervention to reduce prolonged sitting in older adults.
PLEASE NOTE: I WILL BE OVERSEAS FOR THE HONOURS MEET AND GREET ON 27 JANUARY 2016. I AM HAPPY TO MEET PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS ON MONDAY 25 JANURARY IF YOU EMAIL TO ORGANISE A TIME.
My research interests centre around self-regulation (i.e., self-control) and emotion regulation. The projects I will be pursuing this year will focus on how people successfully regulate their emotions for social gain. I am particularly interested in an emotion regulation strategy called expressive suppression, in which people feel but do not show the emotions they are experiencing. While the literature to date has tended to vilify suppression as a maladaptive emotion regualtion strategy, some of my recent work suggests that it may have social benefits in some situations. I am inerested in testing what these boundary conditions are.
I also have other interests in issues of power and control - particularly focusing on the psychological processes associated with feeling high in power or low in control. I am also interested in investigating self-regulation and stress management, and how these processes are influenced by bodily awareness - the degree to which people are aware of and attentive to physical changes in the body.
As a supervisor I emphasize time management and incremental goal achievement. I work to a schedule and expect my students to do the same. I provide structured guidance throughout the Honours process but value independent thought. I am looking for motivated students who want to do well and are willing to put in the time and effort to do so. I work on professional development and growth with students rather than just "surviving" Honours, so if that sounds like a good fit shoot me an email so we can chat about possible supervision!
Broadly, my research is on visual perception. I am particularly interested how the brain generates a vivid representation of the 3-D world from the two 2-D images on the backs of our eyes. If you look at an object and wink your eyes back and forth, you will notice that each of our eyes gets a slightly different view of the world. Our visual system uses these small differences in the images on our retinas to recover information about the 3-D layout of the environment. This is called stereoscopic vision and is the basis of 3-D Movies, Magic Eye stereograms, and many other 3-D visual displays. My theoretical research on stereoscopic vision aims to identify and evaluate possible sources of information contained in the two eyes' images to determine whether or not they contribute to single vision and 3-D perception.
Another interest is to examine binocular processes in the context of 3D-TV, 3D cinema, and 3D surgical displays. Viewers frequently complain of fatigue, discomfort and visual artifacts in the displays. My lab is currently investigating two significant binocular processes that underlie major sources of viewer fatigue and image dissatisfaction: binocular fusion mechanisms underlying single/double vision; and how unmatched features in the two eyes are incorporated into a single binocular perception. We use the data from these investigations to inform modifications to 3D content production and subject the modified stereoscopic media to empirical tests of viewer comfort and satisfaction.
In addition to studying how the brain processes information from the two eyes, I am also interested in how it processes information from two or more senses. We live in a multi-sensory world filled with colours, sounds, smells, etc. How does the brain combine all these bits of information to come up with a single sensible representation? In my lab we explore cases where the brain is fooled or biased into choosing one solution over another based on what types of information we provide the observer. A couple of simple demonstrations are available for viewing on my personal homepage (http://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~grove) under the Research link.
I will be supervising one honours student in 2016. If you are interested in one of the following ongoing projects, you are welcome to apply:
1.) A laboratory-based study of psychotherapeutic interventions to reduce youth alcohol abuse.
2.) A school-based RCT evaluating new interventions for adolescent alcohol use and externalising problems that target impulsivity.
My research has three main foci:
Psychology in organizations — with an emphasis on the contribution of social identity to leadership, motivation, communication, decision-making, negotiation, and productivity.
The social psychology of stereotyping, prejudice, and tyranny — exploringthe role of group processes in the dynamics of intergroup relations and conflict. My more recent work has focused on the importance of social identification for what Milgram termed 'obedience to authority'.
Social processes in health and well-being — looking at the contribution of group life to stress, coping and well-being, especially in vulnerable populations.
Interested students should email me (details above) regarding their interests in these areas.
You can see more information about my own research on the School of Psychology's 'Featured Researcher' page, on the UQ News webpage, or by looking at my Google Scholar page, or following me on Twitter @alexanderhaslam
I would be interested in supervising projects in the following areas:
1. Identity-cognition relationships in aging
Cognitive decline is one of the most significant threats to successful aging, but the nature and degree of decline that people experience can vary considerably. We’re now starting to recognize that social factors, and social group memberships in particular, can influence this pattern; people who are more socially connected have better cognitive reserve and are less prone to cognitive decline. Importantly, it is not simply the case that social groups enhance cognitive health. There are also circumstances in which identification with social groups can be the cause of performance decline (as evident in the stereotype threat literature focusing on memory decline in aging). This research raises a number of questions:
Under what circumstances do social groups enhance and reduce cognitive health?
Do these effects extend to abilities other than memory?
What are the mechanisms supporting these relationships?
Can we reverse the performance decline?
People interested in working in this area could focus on any of these questions in experimental research involving healthy older people.
2. Interventions to keep socially connected
Developments in smart house technology are increasingly used to support older people to reside in their homes and to keep them mentally active for longer. A recent development is use of touch screen tablet devices to keep older people socially connected with their family and friends. This touch screen-based device enables older people in just one touch to notify their family/friends they think of by sending a “Thinking of You” message directly to their mobile phones. Whether this is effective in triggering family to make contact with their elders, reducing feelings of social isolation, and keeping older people mentally active has yet to be demonstrated. This project aims to address these questions.
3. Facilitating learning in healthy aging
Memory decline, among other problems is recognized in medical and neuropsychological literatures as a normal consequence of aging. An important question in the face of such decline, is how we help people to make the most of their learning. In the clinical domain, several instructive techniques — errorless learning and spaced retrieval — have been found to be particularly beneficial adults and older adults with acquired memory impairment. But are these techniques as effective when it comes to managing healthy decline. Students working in this area would evaluate the efficacy of these techniques in healthy older adults to determine how they compare with standard trial-and-error learning and which of these stand the test of time when it comes to remembering information for longer.
NOTE: I will not be taking honours students in 2016
My research is clinical oriented with a focus on child behaviour and family functioning. Within this I have two interest areas including the work-family interface and parenting in low resources settings and countries such as Africa and with migrant families.
Students working with me will do clinically relevant projects that will involve recruiting and working directly with parents. The projects are most suited to students with an interest in child and family psychology and who have good interpersonal and communication skills.
In 2016 studies under my supervision will focus on the following research topics.
1) Social perception: Social perception refers broadly to the ability to understand and react appropriately to the social signals sent out by other people, and is a critical predictor of wellbeing, mental health and social competency. While there is now a considerable literature showing that normal adult aging disrupts many aspects of social perceptual processing, much of this evidence derives from variants of the same basic paradigm: explicitly choosing which emotional label best describes a particular depiction of emotion, such as a photograph of a face, or an auditory expression. However, when we interpret and react to the emotional states of others in our everyday lives, we do not always produce a verbal label for the emotion, we are not limited in our choice from a narrow range of labels, and we may have no awareness of the emotion-decoding process. In addition, how we respond to the cues associated with artificial stimuli in the lab may differ markedly from how we respond to our friends and family in everyday life. To date there has been only limited assessment of age differences in decoding and reacting to emotional and other social cues using naturalistic tasks or familiar people, and even fewer studies that have assessed implicit aspects of social perception. Studies are available that would test whether how age differentially affects implicit and explicit social perceptual processes using more ecologically valid assessments.
2) Prospection: Episodic memory, the ability to mentally re-experience specific past events, has long been a central topic in psychology. It has been proposed to be part of a more general ability to travel mentally in time, which includes a complementary future component that has been termed episodic foresight. Deficits in episodic foresight have profound consequences. This is because episodic foresight has been consistently linked to independent living and a great variety of functional behaviours. Indeed, we incessantly prepare for the future, from carrying objects with us because we might need them, to anticipating future budgetary expenses, to shopping for next week’s dinner. Prospective memory (PM) is a conceptually related component of prospection, which refers to memory for future intentions such as remembering to take medication and turn off appliances. PM is therefore also crucial for maintaining healthy and safe independent living. Evidence now indicates that in late adulthood both of these capacities are significantly disrupted, but many important questions remain with respect to which task properties are important in understanding age effects, the specificity of the age-related changes, as well as how any changes relate to functional outcomes. Projects are available that would focus on addressing each of these questions, with potentially important implications for the development of targeted interventions.
3) Dentophobia: Dentophobia refers to the fear of dentistry and receiving dental care, and is very common in many countries, including Australia. Understanding the mechanisms that cause and perpetuate dentophobia is critically important given that extreme dental fear leads to avoidance of treatment and deterioration of oral health. A growing body of research suggests that, in addition to fear, abnormal disgust responses may be implicated in denotophobia. Disgust responding is composed of disgust propensity (the tendency to respond with disgust) and disgust sensitivity (aversion to feelings of disgust), but there is only limited evidence regarding the degree to which these separate constructs are implicated in dentophobia. Studies are available that would clarify the role of abnormal disgust responding in dentophobia, for instance by using eye tracking to index early attentional biases or facial electromyography to index early implicit affective responses.
Details of published research articles from my lab that relate to these topics can be found here: http://www.psy.uq.edu.au/directory/index.html?id=1885#show_Research. I am also happy to meet in person to chat about Honour's supervision if you are interested in learning more (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
My main research area involves threats to group identity (e.g., threats to national, political or gender identity). Threats may occur from perceptions of discrimination, from acts of criticism, or from the presence of dissenters and impostors within the group. I'm particularly interested in the effect of these threats on how people feel about their own group, about rival groups, and about themselves. I am also interested in the struggle between the will of the individual and the will of the group. How do people change abusive or maladaptive aspects of their group cultures? When do people conform to group pressures and when do they counter-conform? How do people balance their need to belong with thier need to feel different? How do we manage group memberships in an individualistic world?
I am a developmental psychologist interested in working with students who are curious and inspired to come up with creative ways to study how the little minds work!
Some research questions I investigate include:
- How can joint music making positively influence children's social interactions?
- Do monolinguals and multilinguals differ in the ways that they perceive the world?
- What can we learn from infants and young children about learning a new language?
- How do infants, children, and adults respond to stressful stimuli (e.g., sounds of other people crying)? How does this change across age?
I am also opened to discussing new ideas and working together to design projects that suit your interests.
Please email me at email@example.com if you'd like to meet to discuss any potential projects for your honours year!
I'm interested in supervising projects looking at:
Why and when a nudge is not enough
In recent years, many governments in the Western world have turned to influencing behavior through nudging (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008). For instance, one government that has enthusiastically embraced ‘nudging-tactics’ is David Cameron’s Coalition government in the United Kingdom (UK). In 2010, the Cameron government created the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). The BIT unit, sometimes dubbed ‘the nudge unit’, has since argued for the use of nudges to promote healthier lifestyle choices, to increase tax compliance, and to boost charitable giving.
We recently questioned the effectiveness of nudging as a means of bringing about lasting behaviour change and argue that evidence for its success ignores (a) that many successful nudges are not in fact nudges, (b) instances when nudges backfire, and (c) ethical concerns associated with nudges (Mols, Haslam, Jetten, & Steffens, 2014). Instead, and in contrast to nudging, we argue that behaviour change is more likely to be enduring where it involves social identity change and norm internalization.
Students interested in this topic will be encouraged to develop an experimental study to examine the effectiveness of nudges versus social-identity based social influence techniques. It is predicted that, compared to nudges, overt attempts to change behavior that are based on developing a shared identity will be (a) more effective, (b) are less likely to backfire, and (c) will be perceived as more ethical. Experiments will focus on determining the processes underlying successful social influence.
Mols, F., Haslam, S.A., Jetten, J., & Steffens, N. K. (in press). Why a nudge is not enough: A social identity critique of governance by stealth. European Journal of Political Research. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291475-6765/earlyview
Thaler, R. & C. Sunstein (2008) Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. London: Penguin.
Adolescence is a high risk time for the initiation and development of substance use. Projects are potentially available that examine how family relationships, school engagement, and mental health are related to substance use. We have a particular interest in experimentation with alcohol and tobacco use. The research involves large scale existing datasets and there is great potential for publication of findings in peer reviewed journals.
Psychological factors in injury and rehabilitation; posttraumatic stress in adults and children; early psychosocial intervention following trauma; childhood traumatic brain injury and sequelae; childhood burns; adult whiplash; acute to chronic pain transition; interdisciplinary health research.
I am able to supervise either one or two students for 2015. My honours projects for 2015 will be focused on the role of self-compassion in the family context. Self-compassion involves three components: (1) kindness, (2) a sense of common humanity, and (3) mindfulness. I am flexible on how we decide to examine self-compassion within the family, and am happy to discuss options over email (firstname.lastname@example.org). However, possible projects could include: (a) examining self-compassion as a predictor of positive parenting behaviours; (b) determining whether parents would view a self-compassion based program as an acceptable pathway to help improve relations with their children; or (c) whether parents with higher self-compassion are better able to regulate their emotions and have fewer problems with child behaviour. These projects are just possibilities, and I am open at examining self-compassion in other contexts, so please contact me if you have an interest in this area. I hold a position as a Research Fellow at the Parenting and Family Support Centre, and I also work as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice at Psychology Consultants at Morningside.
My research interests lie in psychological factors within gastroenterology practice. In particular, I am interested in the role of psychosocial factors in functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia. I am interested in brain gut interactions and the relationship of psychological factors to immunological functioning within these disorders.
Action observation; body representation; how ownership (of objects) modifies our behaviour and our attention within the environment.
Psychology Honours Projects 2016: Humans are social animals who rely on one-to-one and group interactions for physical and cultural survival. For these interactions to be successful, we need to understand the meaning of each other's actions, as well as understand the physical environment.
One line of research we are following is whether we are able to represent each other's bodies when we are in situations of co-operative action.
Another line of research is how we extend our self-representation to objects in the environment, that is, to object we own.
We use reaction time paradigms and motion capture and analysis techniques. Healthy participants will be required to identify the actions (measured with button-press responses) or actually produce the actions (measured with motion capture and analysis equipment).
I will be available for further discussion at the Supervisor meet&greet on Wednesday January 27th 10am-12noon, (room 201) and on Wednesday 27th January 1-2pm in room 404.
My field of expertise is motor control and motor learning. My research focuses on our remarkable ability to adapt movement to constant changes in our environment, which surpasses the most advanced robotic algorithms. Working with me, you will have the opportunity to examine how humans adapt movement to perturbations in the environment, using different manipulations, including behavioral or brain stimulation protocols. My supervision style is hands-on. Working within the Centre for Sensorimotor Performance, you will be able to benefit from the combined expertise of our research group. http://www.hms.uq.edu.au/research/research-centres/centre-for-sensorimotor-performance-(csp)/
About 10% of neonates experience difficulties in the first minutes of life as they make the transition from the uterine environment. We need more effective ways of conveying the newborn's status to the doctors and nurses who assist at this critical time. In this project you will apply theories of attention to the design of a novel display for monitoring the neonate's status, and you will contact a controlled empirical evaluation with representative participants to test whether the display is more effective than the displays in current use.
For honours, my supervision style is to provide plenty of structure, early deadlines, and clear guidance so that motivated students can put themselves in a position to achieve excellent results. In 2016, I am seeking students to work with me on projects in peace psychology and political decision-making, health decision-making, and prejudice/intergroup conflict. Students interested in working with me should email me before January 20th and I would hope to meet the week of the 25th.
For PhD students, my supervision style is to have regular meetings, early deadlines, and clear guidance. I like my students to aim to write more, aim at higher level journals, collect more data, go to more conferences and international and national summer schools, learn more about teaching well, take ethics seriously, attend lab group regularly, play a leadership role in their postgrad cohort, and in general attempt to be high achievers. :) I provide lots of support and structure, and my focus is on helping students to achieve jobs as well as pubs & awards.
I am willing to supervise across a wide range of topics. My own research expertise is in the areas of social influence, peace psychology and political decision-making, health decision-making, and prejudice/intergroup conflict. I particularly value 2 kinds of candidates: (1) loves learning; loves ideas; wants to be an academic because of the autonomy & freedom to pursue groovy research; (2) passionate about social justice; smart and self-motivated; wants to pursue research to change to the world (maybe academia, maybe aiming for government or NGOs). If you are interested in a PhD with me, please e-mail me at email@example.com .
My research interests primarily involve understanding the visuo-motor control of our actions. More specifically, I am investigating how people can successfully interact with moving objects despite rather long neuro-mechanical delays. I am also interested in the role of motion perception in the planning and control of skilled motor actions. Another recent area of research interest involves examining the effects of loud auditory stimuli on corticospinal excitability during preparation for anticipatory timing actions.
PROJECT: Brain mechanisms underlying successful learning
I am a research scientist in the Science of Learning Research Centre here in the School of Psychology. I am interested in working with an honours student on projects exploring what changes in the brain when we successfully learn new things. This work uses electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings - which are a simple, non-invasive way to measure the electrical activity present in the brain. Using EEG we will investigate the way in which both "brain" training and our beliefs about learning (i.e. are we "good learners" or "bad learners") influence our ability to learn. This work will be done in collaboration with Associate Professor Paul Dux and Professor Jason Mattingley as part of our Science of Learning research team.
About me and my laboratory:
My interests are within the broad area of Cognitive Neuroscience, with a particular emphasis on understanding the neural bases of selective attention, multisensory integration and the interface between perception and action.
If offered a place you will become part of a large research group, with several fellow honours students plus numerous research fellows and research support staff. You will have an opportunity to learn one or more of the following experimental methods: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), psychophysics and human neuropsychology. I am particularly keen to hear from students who wish to continue with a career in cognitive neuroscience research.
My laboratory is based at the Queensland Brain Institute (on the St Lucia Campus). This is where you will undertake your research, attend weekly lab meetings and become part of a dynamic team working to understand brain function in health and disease.
There are several possible projects that students can undertake in my lab in 2016. I will explain these in more detail in person at the Honours "Meet and Greet" session on 27th January, or you can contact me directly via email to find out more.
Honours Projects for 2016:
In 2016, I will be offering several projects. Some of these projects will be co-supervised with post-doctoral research fellows in my laboratory. Below you will find two examples of the kinds of projects on offer.
Title: Is selective attention influenced by the predictability of sensory events?
Attention and prediction are two fundamental brain functions. Attention is crucial for boosting the processing of sensory inputs that are currently relevant for guiding behaviour, and for suppressing irrelevant or distracting information. Prediction reduces information processing load and improves cognitive efficiency by incorporating past experiences into judgements about the likelihood of events in the future. How do these processes interact? In this project we will investigate the extent to which the predictability of an event can impact, or bias, the amount of attentional resources we devote to it. We will address this question using behavioural and electroencephalographic (EEG) methods to understand the brain mechanisms of such putative biases in healthy volunteers.
Co-supervised with Dr Marta Garrido (Queensland Brain Institute; https://sites.google.com/site/martaigarridophd)
Title: Is learning more efficient when we co-operate or compete?
The brain is a highly efficient learning machine. We begin learning from the moment we are born (and perhaps even earlier!), and we go on learning well into old age. How does the brain integrate new information learned from the environment with existing knowledge? Are there some contexts that provide a better environment for learning than others? In this project we will compare the efficiency of learning when participants undertake a novel task alone, with efficiency when they co-operate of compete with another person. We will use EEG to measure brain activity associated with learning under these different conditions. The study will be undertaken in the new ARC Science of Learning Research Centre (slrc.org.au). You will also have an opportunity to get involved in other learning projects and activities within the SLRC during the year.
Co-supervised with Dr David Painter (School of Psychology)
For further information on the kind of research conducted in my laboratory, see my homepage on the School of Psychology website.
**NOTE: Studies using EEG, MRI and TMS are conducted in relatively small laboratory spaces and require a certain level of physical dexterity on the part of the experimenter. If you are uncertain about your capacity to operate in such an environment, please contact me for more information before nominating me as a supervisor.**
I am currently working on the following topics in the area of jury decision-making:
I have additional research interests in cognitive dissonance, attitude-behaviour relations, and stress and coping.
Please feel free to get in touch with me if you want to discuss any of these areas or related topics that you are interested in.
Find out more: http://www.psy.uq.edu.au/research/appliedsocial/
Cognitive psychology; attention - broadly defined, including lab testing of theory, lapses of attention (e.g. daydreaming), development of attentional skill (e.g. meditation); cross-cultural psychology; psychology of teaching & learning in the university context. I am not available for Hons supervision in 2016.
I am based in the UQ Parenting and Family Support Centre, and will be supervising one Honours student in 2016.
Many women experience trauma related to birthing or caring for their newborn. For some women, trauma may stem from a difficult birth experience. Traumatic birth can impact the psychological and physical health of women, with consequences reaching far beyond the first weeks or months following delivery. Difficult birth experiences can lead to psychological distress for mothers; feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy, and other trauma symptoms; and problems within the mother-infant relationship, including delayed bonding between mother and infant and difficulties with breastfeeding. Self-compassion is increasingly recognised as an important target within ‘third wave’ cognitive behavioural therapies, such as mindfulness-based interventions, that have been shown to be particularly useful for individuals who have experienced trauma. This project will explore relationships between birth experiences, self-compassion, and a range of maternal and child health outcomes. This study will provide the foundation for future work that will evaluate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention for mothers in the post-partum period.
I am happy to meet with interested students on Mondays or Tuesdays by appointment - please email me to arrange a meeting, firstname.lastname@example.org
My research looks at parenting and parenting interventions to prevent and treat child behavioural and emotional problems. I am particularly interested in childhood chronic illnesses, like asthma, eczema and diabetes and the role parents play in managing these health conditions. Honours projects in 2016 will look at focus on systematic reviews of parenting interventions in the context of childhood illness; effects of intervention on parents views about their children; and observational research looking at parents' communication about sexuality.
If you do your honours year in my lab, you will get to work in a team with other honours students, PhDs and postdocs on one of the following research programs:
1. Developing and testing a general theory of multiple goal pursuit
The aim of this program is to develop and test a formal theory that explains the mechanisms by which people make choices amongst competing goals in a dynamic and uncertain environment ("multiple goal pursuit"). People have to manage competing goals in a wide range of settings (e.g., work, education, sport), yet the mechanisms are poorly understood. Our theory integrates formal theories of self-regulation with formal theories of decision making, to provide a more general account of multiple goal pursuit. We test the predictions of the theory in a series of experiments in which people have to pursue two goals simultaneously. The experiments allow us to test competing views, and understand the mechanisms involved.
2. Modelling human decision making in complex environments
The project aims to extend state-of-the art models of simple choice tasks to decision making with complex stimuli in complex environments. These new models will provide a comprehensive account of behaviour, including the choices that are made, how long it takes to make them, and how choices and choice times vary within and between decision makers. The models will explain how people adapt to changes in task demands when dealing with multiple stimuli or performing multiple tasks concurrently under time pressure. The project will provide the basic research that is needed to extend psychological models of choice to complex ‘real-world’ tasks, such air traffic control and maritime surveillance.
I am broadly interested in understanding how children (and adults) learn about and understand emotional expressions. More specific lines of research focus on: how we integrate facial, postural, and vocal expression cues; our incorporation of situational information into emotion understanding; what role movement plays in expression recognition; how cultural information informs our understanding of others’ expressions; how children decide which expression movements to learn about.
I am happy to supervise students interested in developing new projects based on the topics above. I also have several projects in development, which students are welcome to adopt:
1) Children’s expression recognition (particularly this expression) and whether it is related to experiences of relational aggression/bullying in school-aged children.
2) Does the way we exaggerate expressions for children help them identify that movement as an expression? [eye-tracking study]
3) Can visual attention tell us how children integrate facial and postural expression cues? [eye-tracking study]
4) How do parents talk to children about concepts like ‘surprise’?
5) What information do spontaneous expressions of fear convey to others?
Students who work with me undertake projects that typically focus on the development of social-cognitive skills with a broad view on their possible role in young children’s attainment and transmission of culturally bound behaviours.
Some broad project ideas for 2016 include (but are not limited to):
I will also be co-supervising a student with James Kirby (https://www.psy.uq.edu.au/directory/index.html?id=1265) on the development of compassion in young children.
My areas are occupational health psychology and positive organisational behaviour. In 2016 I will likely take 2 honours students who will have the opportunity to;
1) bring their own field project (i.e., if you have access to an organisational sample we can develop a project together), or
2) work on a ready-made experimental project. There is scope for the student to contribute to the design of these ready-made projects. For more details, see below.
Ready-made experimental projects:
I will attend the supervisor meet and greet session (held 11am 27th January) if you would like the chance to ask me any questions.
My research interests lie in the field of emotional face processing from a neuroscience perspective.
More specifically, I would like to address the topic of attraction of attention by emotional faces, and in particular to measure how efficient emotional faces are at attracting attention when they are presented at different degrees of excentricity in the visual field.
In addition, in order to establish if the amygdala (a key structure for emotions) is involved in this type of processing, the study will also manipulate the parameters the face presentation in order to suppress or facilitate the amydala's ability to process the stimuli.
My current research centres on the following two topics (gossip and role models), and I would be willing to supervise a student in either of these areas.
Gossip: Is gossip a (pleasurable) waste of time, or does it play a valuable role in group cohesion and cooperation? I am currently using a number of methodologies (scenario questionnaires, behavioural experiments, experimental games) to investigate these ideas.
Role Models: There is a common belief that role models are a key to occupational success and that a lack of role models may account for underachievement in underrepresented groups. However, while Governments and other organisations spend millions rolling out various role model interventions, there is almost no evidence that they have any lasting positive impact. I am currently exploring the nature and effect of role models in people's occupational lives to develop a better sense of when (and why) role model interventions make a difference.
Note to interested 2016 students: I am in Europe until mid-February, and will not be able to attend the supervisor meet and greet. If you would like to find out more about me and my approach to supervision, please email me.
My research primarily focuses on the development of episodic foresight (thinking about the future) in children. I have 3 possible projects in this area, all with the ultimate aim of publication. You are welcome to work on these projects but I am also open to other ideas.
1. Making tools for future use: Recent research shows that chimpanzees are able to constructs tools to solve future problems, but they typically do not produce the optimal number of tools if multiple tools are required. When do children show this capacity, and is it related to knowledge of counting principles?
2. Strategic reminder setting to aid prospective memory: Prospective memory involves remembering to perform an action at a specific future occasion. Adults often use external aids, such as calendars and alarms, to help us remember what to do and when to do it. When do children spontaneously do the same, and what are the cognitive processes responsible?
3. Means-end reasoning to achieve a future goal: Classic research shows that chimpanzees can mentally reason backwards through several steps to solve a complex problem and achieve a goal. When can children do this, and is it related to inhibitory control and other executive functions?
I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Motor Control, in the Centre for Sensorimotor Performance at the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences. I am interested in the interrelation between motor adaptation and attention as well as in age-related differences in sensorimotor control. Research methods include behavioural testing as well as EEG.
An honours project could be concerned with the question if gradually, and unconsciously changing the reaching direction towards one direction in space, influences visual spatial attention. The experiments will be carried out with a robotic manipulandum in a virtual reality environment.
Outcomes of this research project will be of practical relevance for treating attentional disorders such as neglect.
Feel free to email me to arrange a meeting or approach me at the supervisor meet&greet.
Areas of interest include women's health and childlessness; gender equality; the transition to early adult life/parenthood; qualitative research methods (interviews/ focus groups/media content analysis).
Potential topics for Honours students include:
COGNITION, PERCEPTION, AND HUMAN FACTORS. In my research group we are using theoretical knowledge of perception, action, attention and memory to better design the fit between people and especially demanding work environments (critical care medicine, transportation, military contexts, etc.). Some sample thesis topics follow -- many others are possible. Ultimately, the thesis topic and scope are decided collaboratively with each honours student.
1. Prospective memory, interruptions, and distractions
Concern about the impact of workplace interruptions and distractions is very topical in basic and applied psychology right now. Many kinds of safety critical work (aviation, healthcare) require people to manage multiple threads of work at the same time. What effect do distractions and interruptions have on people's work, and is there a need for remedies of some kind? Theories of prospective memory have helped us make some progress in the area, but much more work needs to be done. You would run a laboratory study in the UQ Usability Laboratory that examines how people manage interruptions.
2. Do video glasses help healthcare practitioners monitor multiple patients?
With the advent of wearable personal technologies such as Google Glass, we need to understand the full impact of HMDs on visual attention. We have been investigating this problem in full-scale medical simulation environments. In the UQ Usability Laboratory we are investigating when video glasses are vs. are not helpful. The results will influence how HMDs are used in healthcare, the military context, and in everyday life. Your lab-based study could be one of those studies.
3. Do tactile displays help healthcare practitioners monitor multiple patients?
The tactile sense is relatively seldom used to display information, compared with the visual or auditory sense, but it is highly portable and it has some powerful alerting properties. We are exploring whether tactile displays keep healthcare professionals "in the loop" on the status of their patients, and whether tactile displays are more effective for this than auditory displays, such as alarms. Your experiment could break new ground in this area.
4. How can a newborn baby's physiological status best be conveyed to neonatologists?
We have an ongoing partnership with Mater Hospital on neonatal resuscitation. About 10% of neonates experience difficulties in the first minutes of life as they make the transition from the uterine environment. We need more effective ways of conveying the newborn's status to the doctors and nurses who assist at this critical time. Your thesis could break new ground and help give infants the best start in life.
RESEARCH GROUP AND LABORATORY. See http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/cerg for more information about the work of our research group. We are based in the UQ Usability Laboratory in Level 1 of the McElwain Building--see http://www.uqul.uq.edu.au for a glimpse of our research environment. Many of our honours students have published their thesis and several have had the subsequent opportunity to travel overseas to present their honours research.
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE. If you'd like research experience in our group before starting an honours thesis, or if you'd just like to learn about human factors, you might consider taking PSYC2991 or PSYC2992: see Sanderson entry at http://www.psy.uq.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/rec/.
Most people are experts at recognising familiar faces by identity, gender or race, some people have expertise with recognising birds by family or species, others have expertise with recognising dogs by breed or cars by make and model, and in forensic science, fingerprint experts can recognise prints from Smith’s left thumb or Smith more broadly. Experts can often detect visual structure within their domain despite distinct changes in context or view, and variation between the members of a category.
In the Expertise and Evidence lab, I research how people make use of their repository of prior experiences to identify new members of a category or new encounters with an object. Much of our work has been grounded in applied visual domains, such as fingerprint identification, passports, and radiology. Some questions that fascinate me are: How do people discriminate visual objects they’ve never encountered before (e.g., matching two unfamiliar passport photographs or fingerprints in forensic and security settings)? How does visual expertise emerge with the accumulation of experiences? How flexible is visual expertise to changes in the specificity of the task (e.g., classifying birds by family versus species)? And, what is the best way to develop expertise with new objects or categories?
I will be taking one excellent honours student this year to work with me on any one of these questions. If you’d like to work with me or you’d like more information feel free to send me an email at email@example.com. See also rachelsearston.com or expertiseandevidence.com for details on what we’ve been up to.
My research investigates the basic mechanisms underlying associative learning, memory, and decision-making. I have a broad interest in the way knowledge is represented and used to determine choice behavior. I am particularly interested in the basic learning processes that contribute to choice outcomes, and the ways in which knowledge and decision-making might be influenced by attentional factors. My work typically involves a combination of experimental and cognitive modeling techniques to address these issues.
In 2016, I am especially interested in supervising Honors projects on the following topics, though I am open to other possibilities in the domain of learning and decision-making:
1. Cue Combination and Redundancy in Decision-Making
This project investigates the way information across multiple cues is represented and combined during decision-making. In many situations, the predictiveness of individual cues in the environment is imperfect (e.g., clouds do not always predict rain). However, people often have access to multiple pieces of information that can improve the reliability of these kinds of uncertain predictions (e.g., clouds plus high humidity predict rain with higher certainty). This project will investigate response times in addition to choice outcomes to determine how predictiveness and cue redundancy contribute to decision-making.
2. Knowledge Partitioning
People sometimes solve complex problems by discovering simple local solutions to the problem. In some situations, people access these local solutions on the basis of normatively irrelevant contextual information, which can lead to contradictory decision outcomes when the same problem is presented in different contexts. This phenomenon has been called knowledge partitioning. Several studies have suggested that people's reliance on context cues is determined largely by attentional factors during factor. This study will investigate the attention hypothesis by manipulating the order in which people encounter information that might encourage (or discourage) knowledge partitioning strategies to emerge.
General areas of interest: cognitive development in infancy and early childhood; theory of mind and early social development; development of knowledge about the human body; development of biological concepts; early numerical knowledge.
My preference is to negotiate with students about the project they wish to undertake in Honours. We normally spend the first few weeks discussing mutual interests, before settling on a topic.
Most of my Honours students do developmental research, recruiting and testing infants and/or children through the Early Cognitive Development Centre or via local daycare centres and schools. Contrary to rumour, it is not especially difficult or otherwise disadvantagous to carry out a developmental project, as we have excellent systems in place to ensure that students can recruit a good-sized sample within the Honours timeframe.
I am happy to supervise highly motivated students (e.g., research experience, Honours, Master students) on research projects in the broad areas of leadership and followership, creativity and motivation, and health and well-being. Exemplary research projects might examine one of the following issues:
If you are an Honours student and would like to meet and discuss potential supervision, please come to the Honours Meet & Greet event in rooms 201-204 on 27 January between 11am-12pm.
Cognitive development, Animal Cognition, Evolutionary Psychology
Humans make judgements and decisions throughout the process of medical diagnosis and crime scene investigation. Working with me in the Expertise and Evidence Lab, you will have the opportunity to investigate several research questions; here are just three possibilities:
I'll be overseas for the Honours Meet & Greet, so please shoot me an email with any questions you have (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I will be supervising at least four honours students in 2016.
In the UQ Social Neuroscience Lab, we use various psychophysiological measures to examine emotional and cognitive processes involved in social interactions. Although informed by recent findings in neuroimaging, honours projects are typically done without people being put into a fMRI scanner. To heighten experimental realism, the laboratory has available interactive software programs so that participants become highly involved in the experimental procedures. Recent studies conducted by students in the lab have examined the effects of being the source or target of ostracism, implicit prejudice and discrimination, trust and motor mimicry, event-related potentials and guilt, and Facebook use. Honours students attend weekly lab meetings in addition to having individual supervision appointments.
In 2016, I welcome theses on the following topics:
Each of these laboratory studies needs to be developed further before you would begin data collection. Some studies would require learning how to record facial EMG (muscle activity from the face) or collecting saliva samples. Others could be solely behaviour-based.
I do like to encourage better writing whenever possible, so some of our lab meetings will cover those skills as well.
Please be sure to contact me if you have any questions. I'll be free to meet with you after January 26th.
I am interested in evolutionary social cognition. We are conducting a variety of projects on self-deception, overconfidence, and social intelligence.
My work examines social psychological theories in applied settings such as the workplace. Below I’ve provided general descriptions of two research areas that would be suitable for an honours project.
1) Stereotype Threat: An extensive literature in social psychology has demonstrated that stereotype threat, or the concern that one is the target of demeaning stereotypes, can undermine motivation and lead to acute performance deficits. In my lab we have focused on factors that lead to feelings of stereotype threat in the workplace, the different ways that people cope with these feelings, and the long-term consequences for people who feel stereotype threat at work. We conduct studies on stereotype threat in the laboratory and in organisational settings. I would like to involve students on a project designed to follow up our 2013 publication on stereotype threat among younger and older employees.
2) Implicit Attitudes: A growing body of research evidence demonstrates that implicit (unconscious) attitudes can predict behavioural outcomes. In previous research we have demonstrated how nurses’ implicit attitudes toward their patients predict turnover intentions and how implicit identification with drugs impacts success in drug rehabilitation. This work can be expanded to establish when and under what circumstances implicit attitudes relate to behaviour in applied settings.
Refer to recent publications under the ‘Research’ tab in order to read more about these two lines of work.
In 2016 I will be supervising (appx) five motivated, hard-working, honours students. Time-management is important and I encourage students to set achievable, measurable goals to help keep them on track. We will meet weekly throughout the semester to ensure you are making steady progress on your thesis.
Are you interested in doing applied research to improve patient care?
I conduct research in the areas of human factors and applied cognitive psychology. This year, I have places for two Honours students to join the team looking at topics related to:
(1) The design and evaluation of display and patient charts to support clinical decision-making. This includes work with Prof P Sanderson on patient monitoring devices and work with A/Prof M Horswill and Dr Andre Hill on the design of patient charts.
(2) The development of the evidence based clinical training program looking at learning and retention of skills. This includes procedural and surgical skills through to the skills required operate as part of an effective clinical team.
Alternatively, you might prefer to pitch your own entirely original research idea in a related area.
A bit about me as my UQ positions are research only so you are unlikely to have had a lot of interaction with me.
I am the Executive Director of the Queensland Health Clinical Skills Development Service which is the largest clinical skills development service in the world (http://www.sdc.qld.edu.au/tour.htm). The service not only supports training for over 12,000 clinicians each year, we also have incredible facilities to do applied research. I have a continuing A/Prof in the School of Medicine as well as my Honorary A/Prof in Psychology at UQ. I joined the Schools Psychology through the Key Centre for Human Factors in 2002. I have won several awards for innovations and the Jerome Ely Award for the Best Paper in Human Factors.
Self-compassion is increasingly recognised as an important target within ‘third wave’ cognitive behavioural therapies. Within this project, we aim to identify whether maternal self-compassion and psychological flexibility is related to infant feeding outcomes and maternal experiences of infant feeding. In Australia, although 96% of babies begin life breastfeeding this drops to 74.6% at one month and 42.2% at 12 months of life (Australian National Infant Feeding Survey, 2010). Within contemporary contexts, infant feeding is a shame-inducing event for many women (Thomson, Ebisch-Burton & Flacking, 2015). Regardless of feeding method, women report shame and related experiences including guilt, humiliation, anxiety, social pressure, stigma and feelings of inadequacy. Further, anxiety suppresses lactation, with anxiety in the postpartum predicting early breastfeeding cessation (Adedinsewo et al. 2014; Zanardo et al., 2009). If we can establish that maternal self-compassion and psychological flexibility predicts infant feeding outcomes and maternal experiences of infant feeding, then these factors can be targeted to improve maternal outcomes and support optimal infant feeding.
Interested? I'd be delighted to chat to you. Please email me to make a time. I work halftime and am available on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Evolutionary psychology - mate preferences and choices, mate value, physical attractiveness, intelligence, personality, sexual orientation, masculinity-femininity, sexual behaviour, and how these relate to sexual selection and the evolution of the human mind.