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

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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:

Summary of Interests:

  • Emotion
  • The construct of empathy
  • The impact of social media use on emotional functioning
  • Eye-gaze behaviour as related to social emotional function
  • Constructing emotion within artificial intelligence




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

I am primarily an emotion researcher. I am particularly interested in empathic responses, and the construct of empathy (Affective arousal, Affective perspective taking and empathic concern).

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

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

I am keen to work with highly motivated students who are generally interested in emotion research, eye-tracking, or are interested in the emotional impact of social media use.

In 2018 I will have some broad thesis project topics related to my areas of research.

If any of this interests you, and you'd like to meet to discuss, feel free to email me at


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