Experimental Psychology Research Group

Our Research group aims to bring together researchers who use experimental methods to advance our scientific understanding of human behaviour and the processes that underlie it. We conduct basic research across cognitive, developmental, social, and biological areas of psychology and work with internal and external partners so that our research might have impact across many sectors, including policing, consumer behaviour, health, and education.

Meet our team

Lab Co-ordinator: Annie Scudds, Lecturer

Claudine Clucas, Senior Lecturer

Margaret Cousins, Senior Lecturer

Libby Damjanovic, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University

Julie Kirkham, Senior Lecturer

Nicola Lasikiewicz, Lecturer

Michelle Mattison, Lecturer

Rhian McHugh, Technician & PhD Student

Samuel Roberts, Senior Lecturer

Paul Rodway, Senior Lecturer

Astrid Schepman, Senior Lecturer

Suzanne Stewart, Senior Lecturer

Heather Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer


Some of our current projects

Do social inferences act as contextual influences on face perception? (PI: Suzanne Stewart). When we interpret the emotional expression on another person’s face, we might think we are only paying attention to their face. However, previous research has shown that we actually take into account the surrounding context. For emotions that share certain characteristics (such as fear and disgust -- both are negative), interpretations we make about a social situation can influence the emotion we perceive in a face. In two experiments, we replicate this finding but also show that even when emotions are dissimilar (happiness - sadness), social inferences can slow our judgement of what emotion we perceive in a face. Our study suggests that the conclusions we make about another person’s emotional reaction to a situation strongly influence the speed and the accuracy with which we assess emotional facial expressions.

Occupational factors in threat detection (PI: Libby Damjanovic). Global-scale dangers have led to an increase in fear and vigilance of individual humans. Such levels of alertness can serve to protect us from danger. However, errors in judgment can and do happen, as highlighted by the high-profile Jean Charles de Menezes’ case. Whilst evidence shows that there is indeed a general tendency to detect threatening gestures in others, the principal aim of this project funded by The University of Chester is to establish whether police personnel have more advanced ‘threat detecting’ abilities due to the nature of their work. The project has direct applied implications for police training initiatives and understanding the role of experience in front-line police personnel.

Self-respect, moral identity, cognition and sense of belonging within undergraduate and postgraduate students (PI: Heather Wilkinson). The current research study aims to investigate the link between the interactive effect of self-respect, self-control and an academic sense of belonging within Undergraduate and Postgraduate Psychology students. While self-efficacy is concerned with one’s beliefs in one’s ability to carry out certain actions, self-control is concerned with the ability to self-regulate one’s actions and its role in predicting cheating has also been supported (e.g. Bolin, 2004; Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer, & Ariely, 2009). However, no previous research has looked at the interactive effects of self-respect, self-control and university belonging. If the study demonstrates a relationship between self-respect and these areas, fostering self-respect would be useful not only to reduce academic dishonesty and malpractice but also increase students’ well-being.

A picture of health: Does knowledge of positive vs. negative health behaviours affect the spatial representation of neutral faces? (PI. Annie Scudds). The experiment employs an intensive training paradigm to investigate memory and attention for faces previously paired with messages associated with positive and negative health-related behaviours.

Understanding aesthetic preferences for abstract and representational art (PIs: Paul Rodway & Astrid Schepman). The desire to experience and create aesthetic objects is a property of human behaviour in all societies. To understand what drives aesthetic appreciation our work has examined people’s emotional and semantic responses to abstract and representational art. We have also examined how aesthetic appreciation is shared among individuals and how this develops in children. Our results highlight the influence of several factors in determining aesthetic preferences and, more generally, suggest ways in which humans develop share patterns of understanding and liking.


Recent publications

Rodway P., Kirkham J., Schepman A., Lambert J., & Locke, A. (2016). The development of shared liking of representational but not abstract art in primary school children and their justifications for liking. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 10:21. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00021

Damjanovic, L., & Santiago, J. (2016). Contrasting vertical and horizontal representations of affect in emotional visual search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 62 – 73. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0884-6

Schepman, A., Rodway, P., & Pritchard, H. (2015) Right-lateralized unconscious, but not conscious, processing of affective environmental sounds. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition. DOI:10.1080/1357650X.2015.1105245

Schepman, A., Rodway, P., & Pullen, S. J. (2015). Greater cross-viewer similarity of semantic associations for representational than for abstract artworks. Journal of Vision, 15(14), 12. doi:10.1167/15.14.12

Schepman, A., Rodway, P., Pullen, S., & Kirkham, J. (2015). Shared liking and association valence for representational art but not abstract art. Journal of Vision, 15, 11. doi:10.1167/15.5.11

Athanasopoulos, P., Bylund, E., Montero-Melis, G., Damjanovic, L., Schartner, A., Kibbe, A., Riches, N., & Thierry, G. (2015). Two languages, two minds: flexible cognitive processing driven by language of operation.  Psychological Science, 26, 518 – 526. doi: 10.1177/0956797614567509

Athanasopoulos, P., Damjanovic, L., Burnand, J., & Bylund, E. (2015). Learning to think in a second language: Effects of proficiency and length of exposure in English Learners of German. The Modern Language Journal, 99, 138 – 153. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2015.12183.x

Damjanovic, L., Pinkham, A. E., Clarke, P., & Phillips, J. (2014). Enhanced threat detection in experienced riot police officers: Cognitive evidence from the face in the crowd effect. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 1004 -1018. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2013.839724

Morrison, A. P., French, P., Stewart, S. L. K., Birchwood, M., Fowler, D., Gumley, A.I., Jones, P. B., Bentall, R. P., Lewis, S. W., Murray, G. K., Patterson, P., Brunet, K., Conroy, J., Parker, S., Reilly, T., Byrne, R., & Dunn, G. (2012). Early Detection and Intervention Evaluation for people at risk of psychosis (EDIE-2): A multisite randomised controlled trial of cognitive therapy for at risk mental states. British Medical Journal. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e2233.

Clucas, C., Karira, J., & St Claire, L. (2012). Respect for a young male with and without a hearing aid: A reversal of the “hearing aid effect” in medical and non-medical students? International Journal of Audiology, 51:10, 739-45, doi:10.3109/14992027.2012.700772.

Wilkinson, H., Holdstock, J.H., Baker, G., Herbert, A., Clague, F., & Downes, J.J. (2012). Long-term accelerated forgetting of verbal and non-verbal information in temporal lobe epilepsy, Cortex, Mar 48(3), 317-32.

Alba-Ferrara, L., Weis, S., Damjanovic, L., Rowett, M. & Hausmann, M. (2012). Voice identity recognition failure in schizophrenia patients. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200, 784 -790.

Damjanovic, L. (2011). The face advantage in recalling episodic information: Implications for modeling human memory. Consciousness & Cognition, 20, 309 – 311.

Athanasopoulos, P., Damjanovic, L., Krajciova, A., & Sasaki, M. (2011). Representation of colour concepts in bilingual cognition: The case of Japanese blues. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14, 9-17.

Clucas, C., & St Claire, L. (2011). Influence of patients’ self-respect on their experience of feeling respected in doctor-patient interactions. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 16, 2, 166-177. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2010.542168.

Clucas, C., & St Claire, L. (2010). The effect of feeling respected and the patient role on patient outcomes. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 2, 298-322. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2010.01036.x

Roberson, D., Damjanovic, L., & Kikutani, M. (2010) Show and tell: the role of language in categorizing facial expression of emotion. Emotion Review, 2, 255-260.

Damjanovic, L., Roberson, D., Athanasopoulos, P., Kasai, C. & Dyson, M. (2010). Searching for happiness across cultures. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 10, 85 – 107.

Stewart, S. L. K., Corcoran, R., & Drake, R. J. (2009). Mental state references in psychosis: A pilot study of prompted implicit mentalizing during dialogue and its relationship with social functioning. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 14, 53-75. doi: 10.1080/13546800902743449

Stewart, S. L. K., Corcoran, R., & Drake, R. J. (2008). Alignment and theory of mind in schizophrenia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 13, 431-448. doi: 10.1080/13546800802405610