School of Psychology - Directory - People - Dr David Cowan

Dr David Cowan
  – Lecturer, Researcher

Picture of 'Dr David Cowan'
Dr David Cowan
145, McElwain Building (24A)
+617 3365 4466
Postal Address:
School of Psychology
McElwain Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, QLD 4072

LinkedIn ResearchGate Twitter
Picture of 'Dr David Cowan'
Dr David Cowan

Ph.D. (Psychology) - The University of Queensland

Professional Activities:

Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS)

Member of the American Psychological Association (APA)

International Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE)


Picture of 'Dr David Cowan'
Dr David Cowan
Research Activities:

My primary area of interest is the relationship between social and emotional function, and human eye-gaze behaviour. I'm currently using eye-tracking technology to research variation in eye-gaze patterns to live-action facial expressions of emotion. I'm also exploring the construct of emotion within AI, and human emotional response to emotional robots.

Summary of Interests:

  • Eye-gaze behaviour as related to social emotional function
  • Eye-tracking and psychophysiology
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
  • Constructing Emotion within Artificial Intelligence
  • Empathy, Emotion
  • Face processing
  • Affective facial expressions
  • Self Disclosure in relation to Social Media




Representative Publications:

Cowan, D.G., Vanman, E.J., & Nielsen, M. (2014). Motivated empathy: The mechanics of the empathic gaze. Cognition and Emotion, 28(8), 1522-1530. doi:10.1080/02699931.2014.890563

Henry, J.D., Cowan, D.G., Lee. T., & Sachdev, P. (2015). A review of different methods of assessing social cognitive function in clinical settings. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 28(2), 133-140. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000139


Course Coordinator:
  • Semester 2, 2017
    PSYC3034 - Topics in Applied Psychology
  • Semester 2, 2017
    PSYC4121 - Scientist-Practitioner Model
Course Tutor:
  • Semester 2, 2013
    PSST0000 - Psychology Student Support Tutors
  • Semester 2, 2012
    PSYC3034 - Topics in Applied Psychology
  • Semester 1, 2011
    PSYC2020 - Neuroscience for Psychologists
  • Semester 1, 2011
    PSYC1030 - Introduction to Psychology: Development, Social, and Clinical Psychology

Note: Coordinator roles prior to 2009 and tutor roles prior to 2006 are not included.

Research Area:
Social Behaviour

My research is primarily in the area of emotion. I am particularly interested in empathic response, and how how humans process facial expressions of emotion.

I use several methods to research emotional response, including eye-tracking, which can reveal how eye-gaze patterns to faces may relate to the quality of social interaction.

I am also interested in how patterns of social media usage by ourselves and those we connect with, can affect our empathic response and overall emotional state.

I am keen to work with motivated students who are interested in emotion research using eye-tracking techniques, and/ or are interested in how patterns of social media use/ overuse may affect empathic response.

In 2017 I will supervise two honours students. Broad thesis topics which can be expanded upon, may include - but are not limited to:

  • Using eye-tracking to understand how gaze patterns may vary across facial emotional expressions. And how trait/ and state empathy may be related to the processing of increasing intensities of a range of facial emotional stimuli.
  • Understanding how patterns of social media use are related to emotional empathy, and what may happen to our emotional state when individuals we connect with appear to cross the line between healthy social interaction and intentional emotional manipulation. Determine what constitutes both of these patterns of use.

If you think these areas of research may interest you and you'd like to meet to discuss, feel free to email me at

Loading Publications from UQ eSpace, please wait...

QR Code for 'Dr David Cowan'.
View QR Code for this page.
Psychology News, Events & Publications RSS 2.0 Feed School of Psychology on Facebook School of Psychology on Twitter School of Psychology on Google Plus School of Psychology on Linkedin School of Psychology on YouTube
Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Google Plus Share this page on Linkedin