School of Psychology - Directory - People - Dr Helena Purkis

Dr Helena Purkis
  – Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Picture of 'Dr Helena Purkis'
Dr Helena Purkis
I gained my PhD from UQ in 2004 and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of QLD and as a visiting researcher at the University of Sussex, UK. I maintain an honorary position with UQ and have involvement in research projects at UQ and Uni of Sussex. I gained my Masters in Clinical Psychology from Griffith Uni and completed two years of supervised practice to attain endorsement in the Clinical Psychology area of practice. I am currently based at Griffith University, Gold Coast, working as a clinical psychologist.
Contact via Griffith Uni, Gold Coast
Postal Address:

School of Psychology
McElwain Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, QLD 4072

Picture of 'Dr Helena Purkis'
Dr Helena Purkis

BSc, BA (Hons. 1), PhD (UQ)

MClinPsych (Griffith)

Picture of 'Dr Helena Purkis'
Dr Helena Purkis
Research Activities:

I am interested in processes related to learning, attention and emotion. I am particularly interested in how fear relevant stimuli, such as snakes and spiders, can so quickly capture our attention. I am also interested in whether a similar attentional bias exists for sufficiently positive stimuli.

My projects involve stimulus relevance and preferential attention; boundary conditions of evaluative learning; and learning and awareness.

Most of my work is conducted in the Emotion, Learning and Psychophysiology Laboratory:

More information about my work in preferential processing and fear relevance is available on the project website: [please note this project is no longer active].


Representative Publications:


Book chapters

Field, A.P., & Purkis, H.M. (2012). Associative learning and phobias, in: M. Haselgrove & L. Hogarth (Eds.), Clinical applications of learning theory. Psychology Press: Hove.

Field, A.P., & Purkis, H.M. (2012).The role of learning in the aetiology of child and adolescent fear and anxiety, in W. Silverman and A. Field (Eds). Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Research, Assessment, and Intervention (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Journal Papers

Waters, A. M., Groth, T. A., Purkis, H. and Alston-knox, C. (2017) Predicting outcomes for anxious children receiving group cognitive-behavioural therapy: Does the type of anxiety diagnosis make a difference?. Clinical Psychologist. doi:10.1111/cp.12128

Cornwell, T.B., Lipp, O.V. and Purkis, H. (2016) Examination of Affective Responses to Images in Sponsorship-Linked Marketing. Journal of Global Sport Management, 1, 110-128.

Purkis, H.M., Lester, K.J., & Field, A.P. (2011) But what about the empress of Racnoss: The allocation of attention to spiders and Dr Who in a visual search task is predicted by fear and expertise. Emotion, 11, 1484-1488.

Forbes, S.J., Purkis, H.M., & Lipp, O.V. (2011). Better safe than sorry: Simplistic fear-relevant stimuli capture attention. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 794-804.

Coelho, C.M., Gonçalves, D.C., Purkis, H., Pocinho, M., Pachana, N.A., & Byrne, G.J. (2010). Specific phobias in older adults: Characteristics and differential diagnosis. International Psychogeriatrics, 22, 702-711.

Purkis, H. M., & Lipp, O. V. (2010). Stimulus competition in pre/post and online ratings in an evaluative learning design. Learning and Motivation, 41, 84-94.

Coelho, C.M. , & Purkis, H. M. (2009).The origins of specific phobias: Influential theories and current perspectives, Review of General Psychology, 13, 335-348.

Purkis, H. M., Lipp, O. V., Edwards, M. E., & Barnes, R. (2009). An increase in stimulus arousal has differential effects on the processing speed of pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. Motivation and Emotion, 33, 353-361.

Purkis, H. M. & Lipp, O. V. (2009). Are snakes and spiders special? Acquisition of characteristics of fear relevant stimuli by non fear relevant stimuli. Cognition and Emotion, 23, 430-452.

Alhadad, S., Lipp, O. V., & Purkis, H. M. (2008). Modality specific attentional startle modulation during continuous performance tasks: a brief time is sufficient. Psychophysiology, 45, 1068-1078.

Fernández, M.C., Vila, J., Lipp, O.V., & Purkis, H.M. (2008). The effect of startle reflex habituation on cardiac defense: Interference between two protective reflexes. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 69, 27-32.

Blechert, J., Michael, T., Williams, S. L., Purkis, H. M., & Wilhelm, F. H. (2008) When Two Paradigms Meet: Does Evaluative Learning Extinguish in Differential Fear Conditioning? Learning and Motivation, 39, 58-70.

Lipp, O.V., Alhadad, S., & Purkis, H. M. (2007) Startle blink facilitation during the go signal of a reaction time task is not affected by movement preparation or attention to the go signal. Neuroscience Letters, 427, 94–98.

Purkis, H.M., & Lipp, O. V. (2007). Automatic attention does not equal automatic fear: Preferential attention without implicit valence. Emotion, 7, 314-323.

Lipp, O.V., Kaplan, D. M., & Purkis, H. M. (2006). Reaction time facilitation by acoustic task-irrelevant stimuli is not related to startle. Neuroscience Letters, 409, 124-127.

Lipp, O. V. & Purkis, H. M. (2006). The effects of assessment type on verbal ratings of conditional stimulus valence and contingency judgments: Implications for the extinction of evaluative Learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behaviour Processes, 32, 431-440

Lipp, O. V. & Purkis, H. M. (2005). No support for dual process accounts of human affective learning in simple Pavlovian conditioning. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 269-282.

Purkis, H.M., & Lipp, O. V. (2001). "Does affective learning exist in the absence of contingency awareness?", Learning and Motivation, 32, 84-99.

Picture of 'Dr Helena Purkis'
Dr Helena Purkis
Fear learning, phobias and anxiety, evaluative learning (likes and dislikes), human associative learning, attentional biases and preferential processing of relevant/important stimuli.
Fear learning, Phobias, Evaluative learning, Human associative learning, Associative learning - human, Psychology - fear, Fear - psychology, Attentional biases - psychology, Preferential processing of stimuli
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