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Our research

The research activity of the Department reflects the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of scientific psychological inquiry. Quantitative and qualitative research methods are employed to explore psychological processes across a variety of perspectives.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 indicate that 86% of our research activity has been rated internationally excellent or internationally significant. See the results here

Research groups

The research interests of the Department of Psychology uses experimental and applied approaches to examine cognitive, biological, developmental, clinical, health and social processes of human behaviour.

There a number of research groups that encompass our interests:

Applied and Social Psychology

We utilize a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to address key questions influencing the attitudes and behaviour of individuals and groups in their social context. The three key strands of this research focus on personal and social identity, health and well-being, and peace, conflict and justice.

Members: Dr. Sue Aitken, Dr. Eve Binks, Associate Prof. Rosanna Cousins, Prof. Neil Ferguson (Group leader), Dr. Kim Gordon, Dr. Jane McCagh, Dr. Julienne McGeough, Dr. Noreen O'Sullivan

Developmental Psychology

The mission of the Developmental Psychology Research Group at Liverpool Hope University is to advance our knowledge of how humans develop from early childhood to late adulthood. Using a broad range of methods (e.g., laboratory-based experiments, longitudinal designs, cross-cultural studies, etc.), we aim to understand the cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioural factors conducive to an appropriate psychological functioning and wellbeing across different populations (e.g., typically developing children, adolescents, and adults, as well as those with developmental delays or mental health conditions).

The Developmental Psychology group currently consists of four researchers who study the development of numeracy skills in relation to math anxiety and the role of alternative provisions in children’s development (Dr Tom Gallagher-Mitchell); the acquisition of writing and reading skills and its link with cognitive functioning (Dr Lorna Bourke); the development of moral behaviour, empathic responding, and wellbeing (Dr Antonio Zuffiano); and the development and factors associated with emotional responding, regulation, and wellbeing (Dr Belen Lopez-Perez).

The Developmental Psychology Research group has different facilities (e.g., observation room) and equipment (e.g., portable cameras, laptops, tablets) to conduct its research as well as the ChildLab, space where faculty members, students, trainees, and visiting scholars regularly meet and discuss future and ongoing projects. 

Members: Dr. Lorna Bourke, Dr. Tom Gallagher-Mitchell, Dr. Belen Lopez-Perez (Group leader), Dr. Antonio Zuffiano

Vision and Cognition 

Colleagues in the Vision and Cognition research group explore fundamental issues of importance in vision and cognition. Our particular interests span colour perception, face perception and visual search through to aesthetics, spatial navigation and motor control. In doing so, we have a wide range of technical expertise that includes the running of behavioural studies to measuring brain function and biochemical influences on brain function, visual perception and cognition. The group provides a supportive environment for colleagues and postgraduate students.

Current research projects include explorations of threat detection in the real world, influences on visual search efficiency, the role of feedforward eye movements in motor control, fundamental perceptual influences on aesthetic experience, chromatic
discrimination across the lifespan and cultural influences on colour categorisation.

Members: Dr. Dan Clark, Dr. Simon Davies, Prof. Nick Donnelly (Group leader), Dr. Neil Harrison, Dr. Nicola Jones, Dr. Letizia Palumbo, Prof. Galina Paramei, Dr. Glen Pennington, Dr. Yue Yue

PhD Studentship Opportunity

The School of Psychology is offering a PhD studentship in ‘The cost of searching for more than one face’. Understanding the challenge of simultaneously searching for more than one face for the speed and accuracy of face detection has theoretical and applied significance. The successful applicant will explore the underlying cause of the difficulty in simultaneously searching for more than one face, using behavioural and eye movement measures, with explanations couched in terms of relevant theories from visual cognition. By relating performance on experimental measures of search to measures of individual differences, the student will explore if it is possible to predict who will be good at simultaneously searching for more than one face. The outcome of these studies will be of profound interest to the police and other security services.

While the general scope of the project is set there are opportunities for the successful student to shape the project as the thesis progresses.

The successful applicant will

  • Have an excellent understanding of experimental psychology, research methods and statistical analysis.
  • Have excellent written and oral communication skills in English
  • Have a Masters degree with Distinction from a UK university (or EU equivalent) OR; a Masters degree with Merit from a UK university including a Distinction grade for the Dissertation in a relevant subject area
  • Experience with eye tracking and knowledge of visual search and face processing would be desirable

This PhD studentship will be conducted in the Department of Psychology. Professor Nick Donnelly, head of department, will be the lead supervisor of the project, though at least one other supervisor will join the supervisory team. 

For more information, including How to Apply, please see the links below. 

PhD Studentship in Searching for Faces - School of Psychology

Guidance for Personal Statement [PhD Application]