Student Profiles

Rebecca Anthony

Rebecca Anthony
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Parent-child relationship quality and child psychological well-being among adoptive families in the first year post-placement
Research Supervisor:
Dr Katherine Shelton
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Over the past decade societal concerns have been increasingly voiced over the effectiveness and efficiency of the adoption process with the UK. Studies have shown that adopted children have generally been exposed to abuse whilst living at home. In addition, research shows that outcomes for adopted children are poorer, than non-adoptees. Improving placement stability is a major part of providing maltreated children with adequate care. Despite the evidence that stable out-of-home arrangements such as adoption play an important part in assuring the well-being of maltreated children, little research has focused on the parent-child relationship.

This study considers part of that process and investigates parent-child relationship quality and child psychological well-being among adoptive families in the first year post adoptive placement.

Stephanie Baker

Stephanie Baker
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Mild traumatic brain injury and neurodegeneration risk.
Research Supervisor:
Professor Andrew Lawrence
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research aims to integrate social and biological approaches in the early detection of neurodegeneration. I will be focusing on accumulation of mild traumatic brain injuries (concussion in sports) and the potential risk for neurodegeneration later in life (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). I aim to utilise neuroimaging and genetic factors in addition to assessment of the public’s attitudes towards and understanding of the risk.

Sarah Barrett

Sarah Barrett
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Imagination and repetitive behaviours in autism spectrum disorders
Research Supervisor:
Prof Susan Leekam and Dr Catherine Jones
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in imagination in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and its relationship with restricted and repetitive behaviours (RRB). Imagination was once considered a central feature of autism (e.g. Wing and Gould, 1979) however its role was greatly reduced in the international diagnostic manuals. Furthermore, much of the imagination literature has centred on pretend play in children, and there has been little research on the theoretical relationship between imagination and RRB.

I aim to address these limitations in the research by researching imagination in adults with ASD using other measures such as imagining the future. I am also developing an adult self-report measure of RRB, currently for use with neurotypical individuals. Finally, I will explore the relationship between imagination and RRB in ASD.

Pippa Beston

Pippa Beston
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Social cues in the social environment
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Erin Heerey
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Social interaction skill is a tricky concept to quantify. Laboratory measures have attempted to define such a concept, but seem to reduce it down to such a degree that it becomes augmented and without context, or ignore it entirely. There is also limited discussion in the way in which social interaction may or may not be distinguished from social cognition. Current research seems to suggest that the way in which we think and reason about social situations is equivalent to the way that we behave within the social world. As such, we wonder whether this is truly the case and to what extent this is so. We are also interested in looking at social interactions within the context of which they arise. As such, we plan to look at live interactions within the lab and may also use social economics as a tool to study how people make decisions within the social milieu.

Luke Bratton

Luke Bratton
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
Understanding the visual triggers of visual vertigo
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Petroc Sumner, Prof. Simon Rushton.
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Patients with visual vertigo report nausea, light-headedness and instability when exposed to certain everyday situations; for example, whilst driving a car or walking down a supermarket isle. I am concerned with identifying the components of a visual scene which trigger such responses, using this information to create clinical tests for visual vertigo, and to design rehabilitation tools.

I will be employing psychophysical methodology in order to identify:

  1. whether there are specific components of a visual scene which induce vertiginous symptoms; and
  2. whether they demonstrate any deficits in psychophysical tasks when compared to controls.

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
The Identity of Adopted Adolescents
Research Supervisor:
Katherine Shelton (Cardiff), Cerith Waters (Cardiff)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This study seeks to explore and understand an identified disparity in educational experiences and outcomes between adopted children and their non-adopted peers. Specifically, adopted children as a cohort form a hidden and vulnerable group potentially as a result of policies and systems that belies an incomplete understanding of the transition between care and adoption. Consequently, robust data for this group are virtually non-existent; recently available data illustrate significant underperformance for adopted children.

For adopted children, the processes of adolescent identity formation, emotional development and academic experience are challenging because their notion of family and the past contains additional layers that may not be fully formed, known or understood. Early experiences of loss, separation and attachment difficulties could create an altogether different developmental trajectory, the impact of which is only beginning to be realised. A common misconception is that a stable adoptive environment is seen as a cure for their earlier troubles.

The aim of this studentship, then, will be to examine the psychological identity of adopted adolescents and consider how this relates to mental health, relations with parents and peers, and academic and career aspirations.

Philip Butler

Phil Butler
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Identifying the non-technical skills used by UK Fire and Rescue Service (UK FRS) incident commanders when dealing with emergencies
Research Supervisor:
Prof Rob Honey
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Aims to develop a behavioural marker system based on the UK FRS non-technical skills (termed command skills) identified by his earlier research. With the support of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, a group of subject matter experts will:

  • Determine a suitable means to rate the performance of command skills by incident commanders during training simulations
  • Identify a range of positive and negative behaviours associated with each command skill to develop a behavioural marker system
  • Conduct a preliminary evaluation the behavioural marker system to ensure inter-rater reliability between independent raters is consistent and highly correlates.

Rebecca Cavill

Rebecca Cavill
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Spatial memory and Alzheimer’s Disease
Research Supervisor:
Professor Kim Graham
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research focuses on integrating approaches from Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuroimaging, Genetics and Social Sciences to investigate structural and functional changes that occur in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and in at risk populations. I also aim to explore how environmental factors interact with genetic characteristics, and the effectiveness of neurostimulation techniques for cognitive-behavioural intervention.

Hannah Chandler

Hannah Chandler
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
The neural correlates of spatial memory and the cortical specialisation of scene processing
Research Supervisor:
Professor Paul Downing (Bangor), Professor Kim Graham (Cardiff)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology, ; School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My PhD uses different neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI/MRI to study and understand the neural basis of spatial memory and the cortical representation of scene processing.

Bethany Coad

Bethany Coad
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Early detection of Frontotemporal dementia
Research Supervisor:
Andrew Lawrence
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in the early detection of Neurodegenerative disease and am particularly focusing on Frontotemporal dementia. I hope to combine methods from sociology, Psychology and neuroimaging to improve our understanding of early stages of the disease and how we may improve our detection the first signs of degeneration.

Bonni Crawford

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Toward a unified theory of decision-making: integrating information from multiple modalities to explore the neural processes underlying decision-making
Research Supervisor:
Prof A Lawrence
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research is concerned with the neurobiological basis of decision making, at both the individual and the social (dyadic) level. It is generally accepted that there exist multiple, competing valuation systems in the brain (Rangel et al., 2008; Dayan, 2008). Studies of social decision making generally involve a trade-off between cooperation and self-interested behaviour. It has been proposed that there exist specialised social reward circuits in humans (such that behaving in a prosocial manner results in positive feelings, even if the financial/other material reward for that human is less than it would have been had s/he behaved selfishly) (Macdonald & Macdonald, 2010). However, very few studies to date allow the impact of social reward circuits (if they exist) to be disentangled from other individual reward circuits. My main research aim is to further understanding of the valuation mechanisms that contribute to decision making, and to disentangle social reward circuits (if they exist) from other individual material reward circuits.

Selected Recent Publications

Wright, N., Symmonds, M., Hodgson, K., FitzGerald, T., Crawford, B. & Dolan, R. (in press). Approach-avoidance processes contribute to dissociable impacts of risk and loss on choice. Journal of Neuroscience.

Alexander Currie

Alexander Currie
Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Social and biological mechanisms that underlie the perception of pain.
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Paul Mullins (primary), Dr. Erin Heerey (secondary)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research is concerned with how the perception of painful stimulation can be altered by factors both internal and external to the individual. It has been demonstrated that individual differences can play a role in how pain is experienced (such as age, gender and ethnicity), but it has also been shown that factors such as experimenter gender, perceived professional status and expectation of performance (e.g. ‘the average person can withstand noxious stimulation for X-minutes’) can also play a part in changing how pain is experienced. I’m interested in examining whether the experimenter gender effect can extend to the presence of an additional observer, which may have possible clinical implications. As well as this, anxiety has been shown to play a role in pain perception, and I am examining is this may be a possible driving force behind any differences in pain threshold reports whilst participants are being observed, as well as whether this may correlate with personality traits.

I am also interested in examining how noxious stimulation is processed in the brain using neuroimaging techniques, specifically magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). MRS is used to examine levels of neurometoblites in the nervous system, and I am particularly interested in examining how levels of glutamate may alter in the anterior cingulate cortex in anticipation of uncertain noxious stimulation, as it has been shown previously using fMRI that activity increases in the ACC during uncertain anticipation, and that both painful and not painful stimulation are perceived as more intense when the participant is unsure of the outcome of the stimuli.

Katie Daughters

Katie Daughters
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
The behavioural effects of Oxytocin
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Antony Manstead, Prof. Stephanie van Goozen
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research area of interest is social psychology, specifically looking at the neurobiological mechanisms that underpin social interactions.

I am currently interested in the role of Oxytocin in human behaviour, in particular how it is involved in several categories of social relationships: generic social relationships, parent-offspring relationships, and pair bond relationships. My research is designed to investigate the different effects of Oxytocin, if any, between these categories.

Alison Dennehy

Alison Dennehy
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Attention and Causal Binding
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Marc Buehner (primary) and Dr. Catherine Jones (secondary)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

When two events have a causal relationship (i.e. one causes the other), the interval between them seems shorter than that between two events that do not have a causal relationship.  It is thought that this is a general distortion in our perception of time, whereby time appears to speed up in the interval between the two events that have a causal relationship.  My aim is to uncover the mechanism behind this effect and to place the phenomenon more directly into the time perception literature.

The purpose of causal binding is thought be as a way of making it easier to learn the causal relationships between events that we encounter by making them appear to be bound closer together in time.  It is entirely plausible, therefore, that during a causal relationship we devote more attentional resources to the environment (to facilitate the learning processes) leaving fewer attentional resources to focus on the passage of time.  It is a general finding that the more attention that is paid to the passage of time, the slower time is perceived to pass and the less attention that is paid to the passage of time, the faster time is perceived to pass.  Thus, time would appear to pass more quickly during a causal interval than during a non-causal interval due to more attention being paid to the environment and less to the passage of time.

In my current research, I aim to directly assess attentional processes during a causal binding task to ascertain if there is a difference in attentional processes when events have a causal relationship than when they do not.  I will be using behavioural measures as well as pupillometry.

Selected Recent Publications

Trent, S., Dennehy, A., Richardson, H., Ojarikre, O.A., Burgoyne, P.S., Humby, T. & Davies, W. (2012) Steroid sulfatase-deficient mice exhibit endophenotypes relevant to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(2), 221-229.

Michael Scott Evans

Michael Scott Evans
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Objective measures in stress and fatigue in train crew
Research Supervisor:
Professor Andrew P Smith
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The aim of my research Cardiff University will be to develop objective measures in stress and fatigue in train crew. This will be achieved by addressing the following objectives:

  • Objective One: To determine the scale of occupational stress and fatigue in train drivers using survey and qualitative methods.
  • Objective Two: To develop mobile phone methodology (tests of alertness and attention) to provide indicators of crew fatigue.
  • Objective Three: To develop a model of fatigue that can be used to plan work schedules which maximise safety and wellbeing.
  • Objective Four: To develop training packages that increase awareness of stress and fatigue.
  • Objective Five: To develop a tool to assess the efficacy and impact of organisational changes and training.

Charlotte Fry

Charlotte Fry
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
Cognitive functioning in homeless young people
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Katherine Shelton and Dr. Kate Langley
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am looking at cognitive functioning in transition-age young people (adolescents to young adults) living in temporary accommodation at Llamau, a charity supporting homeless young people and vulnerable women across Wales.  Some deficits in cognitive functioning have been reported in the homeless population (e.g. Pluck et al., 2010; Parks et al., 2007; Spence et al., 2004), including skills falling under the executive function umbrella such as working memory and theory of mind (e.g. Davidson et al., 2014).

My aim is to profile cognitive functioning in homeless young people and work with Llamau to look at how these young people are supported in relation to education and employment.

More information about Llamau and previous research undertaken as part of the collaboration can be found at http://www.llamau.org.uk/.

David Greeno

David Greeno
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
The role of perceptual organisation on auditory short-term memory
Research Supervisor:
Professor Bill Macken & Professor Dylan Jones
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

When investigating auditory short-term memory a common experimental task is to present a participant with a target tone followed by a comparison tone. The participant then has to decide if the two tones are the same or different pitch. Performance in this type of task is generally very good. However, if additional tones are placed between the target tone and the comparison tone then performance deteriorates markedly. Typically, success or failure in these tasks is attributed to specific memory stores (e.g. a pitch memory store) and memory processes that affect these stores (e.g. interference or decay). However, such findings can be re-interpreted as resulting from a process whereby the tones are perceptually grouped in to auditory objects. If the target tone becomes perceptually grouped with the additional tones (i.e. it becomes part of an auditory object comprised of several tones) then the memory task is requiring a comparison between an auditory object comprised of one tone and an auditory object comprised of multiple tones. The memory cost actually occurs because it is no longer a simple comparison between two tones, but a more complex memory task, requiring the extraction and isolation of the target tone from a larger auditory object.

My research will explore how auditory stimuli are perceptually organised and the role that this organisation plays when engaging in short-term memory tasks. I will aim to provide a detailed account of auditory short-term memory that doesn’t rely on memory stores and processes such as interference and decay, but instead, focusses on a more dynamic and object oriented approach to auditory short-term memory.

Paul Haggar

Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Habit Discontinuity and Travel Choices
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Lorraine Whitmarsh, Dr. Steve Skippon
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship
External Sponsor:
Shell Global Solutions (UK)

Habits are automatic behaviours triggered by features of the environment (such as the time of day, the place you’re in and the people you’re with).  If this is the case, then changing features in the environment should disrupt habitual action.  I intend to study the potential of environmental changes, as disrupters of habit, for encouraging more sustainable car-driving and car-choice behaviour.

Paul H. P. Hanel

Paul H. P. Hanel
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Human Values
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Greg Maio Prof. Antony Manstead
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship
External Sponsor:
ESRC Studentship

Human or social values are usually defined as abstract ideals which are guiding principles of our lives. I am interested in all kind of effects to and of values. However, since I have to be more specific in my PhD, I want, among other things, to investigate the relationship between values, moral identity and emotions in different cultures (Brazil, India and UK).

Moreover I am interested in Moralpsychology and daydreaming.

Selected Recent Publications

Hanel, P. H. P. (2011). Anregungen aus empirischen Befunden zur praktischen Umsetzung einiger Gedanken von Benedikt XVI. [Suggestions from empirical findings for the practical implementation of some thoughts of Benedikt XVI.]. In C. Sedmak & S. Horn (Eds.), Die Seele Europas. Papst Benedikt und die europäische Identität [The European soul. Pope Benedict XVI. and the European identity] (S. 315-330). Salzburg: Prustet.

Hanel, P. H. P. (2013). Tagtraum – zur Taxonomie von Typen der Unaufmerksamkeit [Daydreaming: A taxonomic analysis of different types of inattentiveness]. In U. Wolfradt,  G. Heim, & P. Fiedler (Eds.), Dissoziation und Kultur. Pierre Janets Beiträge zur modernen Psychiatrie und Psychologie (Band 3) [Dissociation and culture. Contributions of Pierre Janet to modern psychiatry and psychology (Vol. 3)] (p. 102-111). Lengerich: Pabst.

Hanel, P. H. P. (2014). Eckstein, Ludwig. In U. Wolfradt, E. Billmann-Mahecha & A. Stock (Eds.), Deutschsprachige Psychologinnen und Psychologen 1933-1945 [German speaking psychologists 1933-45] (p. ??). Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Kelly Hubble

Kelly Main
Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Adolescent offenders: can neurobiological deficits predict the persistence and desistence of antisocial behaviours?
Research Supervisor:
Prof Stephanie van Goozen , Dr. Simon Moore and Prof Anita Thapar
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My PhD research aims to examine emotional processing deficits in adolescents who are characterised by antisocial behaviour. My research interests are in the area of developmental psychopathology and broadly include: Antisocial behaviour and the mechanisms involved in the development and severity of offending, and ADHD and its common co-occurrence with Conduct Disorder.

To achieve this I am currently working with the Cardiff Youth Offending Service aiming to improve the facial expression recognition of young offenders using an emotional intervention task and examine how these improvements relate to future offending. I am also working as part of a larger project with the School of Psychological Medicine on the differences in empathy deficits between adolescents with ADHD who do and do not display antisocial behaviours.

In my second year I am hoping to look at ways to improve emotional processing using the hormone oxytocin and also develop a new emotional processing task to examine pre-attention emotional processing.

Sam Hubble

Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Understanding the Dynamics of Domestic Electricity Supply, Consumption and Demand Reduction
Research Supervisor:
Professor Nick Pidgeon, Professor Karen Henwood
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship & EPSRC Studentship

I’m interested in how people consume electricity. In particular I am interested in how a better understanding of how people interact with their electricity supply can potentially inform strategies to reduce domestic electricity consumption and demand. As government targets require a transition to low carbon, secure, affordable energy systems – with the emergence of ‘Smart Grids’ and innovative electricity supply networks – a greater understanding of the dynamics of domestic electricity consumption can help facilitate the drive for increased network efficiency and electricity demand provision.

Ashleigh Johnstone

Ashleigh Johnstone
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Cognitive Changes Linked to Martial Arts Practice in Adults
Research Supervisor:
Dr Paloma Marí-Beffa
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Previous research has investigated the beneficial effects of activities such as yoga and mindfulness on cognitive functioning. Similar research using Martial Arts has been done, and positive effects have been found in children. However, these improvements in cognitive functions have not been found in adults, possibly due to the nature of the tests used in these studies.

The aim of the first phase of this research is to investigate whether a single bout of Martial Arts has an impact on cognitive functions in a population of karate black belts. Later research will aim to discover which part of the karate protocol may be driving these effects.

Matt Jones

Matt Jones
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Unifying social and biological approaches to early detection of dementia.
Research Supervisor:
Professor Kim Graham
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am on a 1+4 PhD as part of the Wales Integrative PhD Programme in Neurodegeneration (WIN) programme at Cardiff University.  I am part of a cohort of students, supported and supervised by a group of eleven academics from the disciplines of Social Psychology, Genetics, and Neuroscience.  Our aim is to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of early signs of neurodegenerative diseases.

Rebekah Kaunhoven

Rebekah Kaunhoven
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
An electrophysiological investigation into the impact of mindfulness on emotion regulation in primary school children
Research Supervisor:
Dr Dusana Dorjee
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The inability to effectively regulate emotions is linked to lower academic performance, chronic stress and anxiety in children. Research into mindfulness based programmes for adults suggests that mindfulness training can enhance mental health and wellbeing through cultivating effective emotion regulation skills. My research will examine the impact of a school based mindfulness programme on emotional wellbeing in primary school children. I will be focusing particularly on how mindfulness affects the neural basis of emotional processing in children in order to further the understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms of mindfulness.

Erika Leonaviciute

Erika Leonaviciute
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Early stages of neurodegenerative diseases
Research Supervisor:
Prof Kim Graham; Prof Andrew Lawrence, Dr Nils Muhlert
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in early detection of dementia. My research aims at unifying different approaches and disciplines (Neuroscience, Social and Cognitive Psychology, Genetics) in order to gain a better understanding of early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

Rachel Newey

Rachel Newey
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Social Learning
Research Supervisor:
Dr Richard Ramsey and Dr Kami Koldewyn
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This project will investigate individual differences in social learning and mechanisms for improving individuals’ abilities to take another’s perspective. Perspective taking (PT) aids communication. Visual PT is considered to be ‘basic’ theory of mind (ToM) as it can be achieved via spatial knowledge alone and does not require a real understanding of another’s thoughts. We will research whether improving visual PT can transfer to improved solving of more complex ToM problems. Imitation is thought to be key component of social learning and, like PT, it enhances social interactions. Over-imitation involves copying behaviours that have no causal relevance and is a behaviour observed in both children and adults. Some refer to it as ‘mindless’ copying and it is not fully understood why humans over-imitate, although it is likely a combination of learning and conforming. By imitating what others do, individuals are able to freely and easily accumulate knowledge. Could this come at a cost? Social learning will be studied in the context of imitation, over-imitation, goal directed behaviour, problem solving and social motivations. How do social learning, imitation and problem solving interact?

Brianne Nichols

Brianne Nichols
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
Investigating the role of agency and resilience in relation to Flourishing among students in Higher Education
Research Supervisor:
Dr John Parkinson
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

A lot of research within the field of Positive Psychology has underpinned the vital role of positive emotions in relation to Flourishing, which is an optimal state of wellbeing. What is less understood within this field of research is the role of negative emotions in relation to wellbeing, and how some people may Flourish despite having experienced hardship. For this reason, my research aims to investigate the role of negative emotions among students in Higher Education and its relation to Flourishing. More specifically, I’m interested in the role of personal agency in this process and how negative emotions may motivate solution-focused behaviours and thus, contribute to Flourishing.

Joshua Payne

Joshua Payne
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Language rehabilitation in Welsh-English bilinguals with brain damage
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Marie-Josèphe Tainturier, Dr. Paul Mullins
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The topic of bilingualism in Psychology has had a great deal of attention over the last 15-20 years and we have made great strides in our attempts to understand the bilingual brain. However, many questions remain to be answered. Given that approximately 50% of the world’s population are bilingual or multilingual, these questions are vital.

My research will focus primarily on assessing the effectiveness of current neuropsychological therapies for the rehabilitation of Welsh-English bilinguals who have brain damage. Bilingual aphasia is particularly challenge for practitioners and rehabilitation specialist and more research is required to explore the mechanisms/techniques that may improve the efficacy of treatments. I have a keen interest in non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) and how this might be used in conjunction with current treatments. I am interested in using advanced imaging methods (e.g., diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy) to explore the mechanisms of NIBS and the impact of treatment to inform current models and improve understanding of their application.

ResearchGate:
Josh_Payne

Christine Pinkard

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Childbearing and decisional factors
Research Supervisor:
Prof J Boivin
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in the decisional and psychological processes associated with childbearing. These processes include the factors that influence decision-making regarding childbearing, and also the factors that influence seeking help when spontaneous conception is found not to be possible.

Within the broad domain of childbearing, I am interested in comparing the relevant processes in heterosexual samples and in diverse groups that potentially could not achieve parenthood without medical intervention. Examples of these groups include single women, lesbian and gay couples and people with certain disabilities and/or genetic illnesses. Comparing these minority and majority groups is important for increasing understanding of contemporary childbearing and help-seeking patterns in Britain.

Luba Petrova Pirgova

Luba Pirgova
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Electricity Supply, Consumption and Demand Reduction: Visual Culture and Corporate Worlds
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Nick Pidgeon, Prof. Karen Henwood
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,

Electricity is invisible and yet it has been turned into a product to be sold and consumed by society as both a necessity and as a commodity. This product, as any other product, has a visual form. The visual representations of electricity are also associated with a wide range of emotions and social practices. Electricity becomes somewhat ‘visible’ to the people when it is lost, when it is threatened, even if it is for a short time. Usually, these are times of turmoil, such as wars and natural disasters. These are the times when electricity becomes a symbol of safety and security, a symbol of home and “our” space; a symbol of warmth and comfort, a symbol of light and hope. The focus of this PhD is on the perceptions of electricity of individuals and social groups as presented in visual imagery during two moments of turmoil – Hurricane Sandy (USA, Oct 2012) and Energy Protests (Bulgaria, Feb-Apr 2013). The PhD is based on both primary and secondary images produced and interpreted during these two events. Empirical data include analysis of photographs and articles as well as field interviews from both case sites. The symbolism of electricity will be connected to more general issues of social and cultural sustainability as the perceptions of what is and what is needed intersect with questions of what might become if the perceptions and expectations remain unchanged.

Selected Recent Publications

2013 – ‘Book Review: The Ethics of Visuality: Levinas and the Contemporary Gaze’ for LSE Review of Books: The Latest Social Science Books Reviewed by Academics and Experts (online), Publication Date (upcoming)

2013 – ‘Visual images of electricity in times of turmoil: perceptions, interpretations and symbolism’, Global Cities Annual Review 2013, under consideration as well as part of the published People and the Planet 2013: Transforming the Future Conference proceedings

2013 – ‘Book Review: The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future’ for LSE Review of Books: The Latest Social Science Books Reviewed by Academics and Experts (online), Publication Date 28 September 2013

2013 – ‘Book Review: Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere’ for LSE Review of Books: The Latest Social Science Books Reviewed by Academics and Experts (online), Publication Date 17 August 2013

2013 – ‘Us and the Other Us: The Two Worlds of the Bulgarian Students in Aberdeen (A Multi-Modal Qualitative Research)’, Sage Publications, In Print

2011 – ‘Modernity Reframed’, Aberdeen University Student Sociological Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 1,pp 82-92

2010 – ‘Night and Fog’, Student Journal of International Affairs online publication

Samuel Ridgeway

Samuel Ridgeway
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Predicting real world behaviours with neural correlates
Research Supervisor:
Prof Andrew Lawrence
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My project aims to use neural measures to predict social and health behaviours in the real world. This is known as the brain-as-predictor approach (e.g. Berkman & Falk, 2013). The present project will make use of MR imaging (e.g. DTI and fMRI) along with wearable devices to apply this approach. It is hoped that this will provide advances in studying behaviour in a naturalistic context.

Kevanne Sanger

Kevanne Sanger
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
A physiological investigation of mindfulness training in secondary schools: Modifications in emotion regulation and cognitive control in adolescents practicing mindfulness
Research Supervisor:
Dr Dusana Dorjee
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Over the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in mindfulness research across various populations, although very little focus has been paid to adolescents, especially within school. My interest is in discovering the efficacy of a mindfulness programme for secondary schools, and examining the health and well-being related psychophysiological mechanisms that mediate salutary outcomes.

This research is also timely with government interest in developing our primary mental health care and national well-being (Foresight, 2008). The New Economics Foundation (nef) have suggested we do ‘5 things per day to stay sane’, including Take Notice of the events inside and all around us (nef: Aked, Marks, Cordon, & Thompson, 2008). My PhD will hopefully build on these recommendations, and investigate whether ‘taking notice’ really will improve the well-being of our young people.

Naomi Scott

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Signs of mental and physical health in the face
Research Supervisor:
Prof. R Ward
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Recent research has shown the ability for personality traits to be observed from the face (Kramer & Ward, 2010). Specific personality traits, such as neuroticism, are highly correlated with mental health disorders. This research aims to determine if this link is observable from the face. Research is primarily concerned with the ability to determine clinical syndromes such as depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizotypal personality from the faces of others.

Polly Shingler

Polly Shingler
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Evolutionary Perspectives into Social Signalling
Research Supervisor:
Professor Robert Ward, Dr Patricia Bestelmeyer
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Humans are highly social and highly visual creatures and frequently make important social attributions on the seemingly shallow basic of appearance. However, these attributions can be surprisingly accurate at times. For example, accurate judgements of important social traits, including many Big Five traits, mental health, and sociosexual orientation can be made, merely on the basis of neutral photographs. Even when attributions based on appearance are inaccurate, they are still carry significant consequences. This project will look at social attributions and appearance, from the perspective of an evolved social signalling system and consider the effects of expressions, sexual dimorphism and variations in personality.

Laura-Jean (L-J) Stokes

Laura Jean Stokes
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Snacking and eating behaviour
Research Supervisor:
Professor Robert Rogers (primary) Dr John Parkinson (secondary)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Snacking is a behaviour we regularly engage in; however, with food resources in such available supply the current environment has moved towards one that is largely obesogenic (Lieberman, 2006). We aim to discover factors underlying snacking behaviour, allowing us to further understanding of disordered eating and the development of eating problems. This research will lead to interventions targeting specific maladaptive eating behaviours.

Katy Unwin

Katy Unwin
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Basic perceptual processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from psychophysics and Multi-Sensory Environments
Research Supervisor:
Dr Catherine Jones and Dr Georgina Powell
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in how people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) perceive the world differently and how this can affect the way they behave. In particular I will investigate differences in auditory, tactile and visual perception in ASD using psychophysics tasks.

These analyses of the impact of sensory perception on behaviour will lead into investigations on the utility and underlying mechanisms of Multi-Sensory Environments (MSE). This research will be conducted using a MSE created at Cardiff University, funded by Mike Ayres Design.

Karis Vaughan

Karis Vaughan
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
The role of mindfulness in eating behaviour and potential applications for intervention
Research Supervisor:
Professor Geoff Haddock, Professor Greg Maio
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research will investigate the relationships between mindfulness and eating behaviour with the aim of informing the design of an effective mindfulness-based intervention for weight management. Initial work will examine links between mindfulness, nutritional knowledge, food preference, health values and behavioural variables as well as attempting to determine why such relationships exist.

Amy Wells

Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Reducing antisocial behaviour in at risk youth
Research Supervisor:
Dr Stephanie Van Goozen
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am interested in how antisocial behaviour can be reduced in children and adolescents through a tailored intervention targeting emotion recognition.

Emily Wolstenholme

Emily Wolstenholme
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Investigating Dietary Motivations and Willingness to Change
Research Supervisor:
Wouter Poortinga
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research interests concern psychological and social dimensions of environmental issues. Specifically, my PhD research focuses on public engagement with the negative environmental impact associated with animal agriculture. By employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, my project aims to a) identify motivations for dietary choices b) gauge public awareness of the environmental impact of animal products on the environment and c) develop and test interventions aimed at increasing the consumption diets that have a low environmental impact.

Natalia Zarzeczna

Natalia Zarzeczna
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Gender Inequality in Mental Space
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Ulrich von Hecker & Prof. Geoffrey Haddock
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research examines the role of stereotypical thinking in reasoning about social power in terms of cognitive space. Past research indicates that when people think about concepts they are likely to position these concepts along the vertical/horizontal dimension within their minds. For instance, powerful individuals are cognitively positioned on the top whilst powerless on the bottom (Schubert, 2005). The aim of my project is to see whether stereotypical thinking about gender (males having a higher social status than females) may affect spatial representation of power, such that males (but not females) as powerful would be mentally represented on the top whilst females (but not males), as powerless on the bottom. Such findings could be further used test the potential contribution of unconscious spatial processing in reinforcing gender stereotypes and prejudice.

This pathway focuses on the social science aspects of Psychology, which is a broad discipline that extends from examining human behaviour in social contexts to neurological analyses of brain structure and function.

The three institutions involved in this pathway are ideal partners because of complementarity in our research strengths. Social processes are very prominent in research at all three. Cardiff has a focus on aspects of psychology relevant to attitudes, motivation, and emotion, the environment and sustainability, and intersections between developmental psychology and health. Bangor has an interest in understanding how we perceive and interact with others, how social attributions are made and how social cognitions impact health and well-being, and the developmental profile exhibited in disorders of social cognition. Swansea examines social and cognitive influences on health and cognition, nutrition and diet and the role of sleep in health and well-being. There is ample potential for interaction and further study in each of these areas (and in aspects of cognitive psychology), building on the considerable level of joint activity within the prestigious Wales Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience (WICN). Students gain a great deal by developing their appreciation of the breadth of approaches across the institutions.

Students in the Psychology pathway benefit from significant links with private, public, and third-sector organizations, complemented by the inter-disciplinary research focus. Students at each institution will have the opportunity to engage with multiple inter-disciplinary research centres at each institution (such as Sustainable Places at Cardiff, Mindfulness at Bangor, DECIPHer at Cardiff and Swansea), as well as from interactions with projects supported by a range of UK Research Council and European projects. Furthermore, each institution has a track-record of successful inter-disciplinary co-supervision of PhD students (including with Business, Dentistry, Engineering, Social Science and Medicine).

Students taking the 1+3 route follow a Masters programme which includes both a broad social science research methods training and subject-specific modules, including a dissertation study.  There are ample opportunities for further training and development throughout the doctoral programme. The partners hold an annual shared postgraduate conference showcasing excellence and innovation in the shared training and research environment.