Research in Psychological Sciences
Psychology research at University of Gloucestershire spans a range of topics including cognition, social psychology, forensic psychology, and health and wellbeing. We focus on investigating 'applied' or real-world aspects of psychology, undertaking research in natural and laboratory settings.
Psychology is part of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, and its research falls within the University of Gloucestershire's Research Priority Area of
Sport, Exercise, Health and Wellbeing. Psychological sciences faculty members collaborate with staff in other research areas including Criminology, Computing (including Videogame Design and Digital Forensics), Sports, Media and Performing Arts. Research facilities are located at Francis Close Hall campus with access to additional resources at Oxstalls campus.
We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from other subjects or organisations. We would also welcome research students to join our current projects, or to develop their own project with a member of the team; a list of current postgraduate research students is available here. University of Gloucestershire undergraduate students are also invited to contact us if you would like to be involved in project work that could earn you module credit.
Our research follows five main themes:
- Cognitive Psychology / Neuroscience
- Social Cognition / Neuroscience
- Forensic Psychology
- Health, Wellbeing and Work
- Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (CHIP)
Cognitive Psychology / Cognitive Neuroscience
The primary focus of this research group has been on decision-making in applied settings. Recent projects include situational awareness in the fireground and in obstetrics, team situation awareness, and the role of unconscious emotional information in intuitive decision-making (S Baker, Brookes, Catherwood, Edgar, Sallis). The team use a number of tools within their research, notably the Quantitative Assessment of Situation Awareness (QASA), electroencephalography (EEG), psychophysiological apparatus, and Virtual / Augmented Reality.
Our most notable project is
Firemind, which brought together experts and professionals in emergency service provision (primarily firefighters but expanding this to other blue light services) from across Europe to design a training tool using the QASA measure to improve situation awareness on the fireground.
The team are also active in a number of different areas of cognitive psychology. We are investigating the effectiveness of virtual reality as a training tool, for instance in improving public speaking skills, and are also using it to explore topics in forensic psychology (S Baker, Brookes, Rees). Other projects include cognitive rehabilitation (Schenke), neural correlates of creativity (S Baker, Brookes, Catherwood, Edgar), and sound symbolism in infant word learning (Kantartzis). Research students are undertaking EEG studies of “worry" and anxiety, the effectiveness of floral therapy on wellbeing, and the effects of school therapy dogs on children's attention and attainment (Ardolino, Hardt, B Baker, Oostendorp Godfrey).
The team has been successful in obtaining external sources of funding exceeding £500,000 through MoD Competition of Ideas, ERSC, NHS, and Erasmus Plus.
Social Cognition / Neuroscience
The research interests of our group span both the consideration of how our own social values and self-regulatory focus can affect experiences, and how our observations of others can affect our own actions. Specific topics include how actions are observed and predicted in social situations, and non-conscious influences on behaviour.
A range of methodologies are employed to investigate social cognition/neuroscience, including self-reports, virtual reality, motion detection, EEG, observations and response time measures.
Recent projects include the (implicit) creation and use of person-models of observed actors based on their behavioural tendencies, and reactivation of these models when the actors are re-encountered (Schenke). Other studies undertaken by faculty and research students apply social psychology in diverse topic areas related to Forensic Psychology, and Health, Wellbeing and Work.
The main strand of research undertaken in Forensic Psychology is in Investigative Reasoning and Investigative Interviewing.
Projects have examined reasoning by investigators in terms of eliciting information and detecting deception; and the reasoning of juries, victims, witness and perpetrators. Topics include: studies in eye-witness testimony, the role of identity and cultural differences in investigative interviewing, and approaches for improving outcomes when interviewing people with autistic spectrum disorder (Rees, Sandham, Lewington, Williams).
Current research involves collaboration with Criminology colleagues within the School of Natural and Social Sciences, making use of our Forensic Interviewing Suite, and our immersive VR facilities to investigate individuals' perceptions of serious crime scenes. As well as sharing forensic psychology interests in criminal justice processes, there are overlapping interests with colleagues in Criminology around topics in domestic abuse and homicide, stalking, and sexual violence (Livesey, Monckton Smith, Sandham). Psychological research is also being undertaken into the experience of practitioners providing counselling to adult male victims of sexual offending (Marsh).
A new strand of research is developing the theme of cyber psychology, working with colleagues in Digital Forensics and taking a multidisciplinary approach to link the psychological / social engineering dimensions with technical aspects of cyber security and countering terrorism (Sandham).
Connections between Forensic Psychology and Health, Wellbeing and Work are being established around the theme of Toxic Leadership (Truscott, Flaxman).
Health, Wellbeing and Work
One strand of research considers psychological wellbeing and resilience in specific populations. This includes evaluation of interventions to improve psychological wellbeing for carers of people with dementia and for health professionals, the role of purposeful activity in health promotion, language learning and wellbeing, self-compassion in children, and the experience of parenting a child on the autistic spectrum (Rees, Sumner, Kantartzis, K Hughes). Current research student projects are investigating positive psychological interventions for athletes, floral therapy, mental health service users' journey to recovery, discourses of psychiatry, effectiveness of exercise in treatment for PTSD, and effectiveness of counselling (S Hughes, B Baker, Rhodes, Tiptaft, Foster, Salter).
Focusing on the relationship between wellbeing and work, research has been undertaken on how psychosocial facts such as employment status affect the immune and endocrine systems, exploring dimensions of psychoneuroimmunology and pychoneuroendocrinology (Sumner). Other themes include wellbeing of workers in the non-traditional workforce, and the impact of internship placements on student resilience (Biggs). Current research student projects include Toxic leadership, influences in the outcomes of negotiations, work-life balance in elected officials, virtuous behaviours in leaders in the workplace, and the transition from army to civilian life (Flaxman, Vasas, De Leeuw, Kirby, Dawson Jones).
Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (CHIP)
Our interests are with both conceptual and historical issues themselves, and with the pedagogy of conceptual and historical issues. In the former case we're concerned with the nature of everyday psychological discourse, psychology in social context, enhancing psychological literacy, and community based approaches to psychology. Recent examples include examining pubic discourses around the concept of “heritability", and a multi-dimensional interactionist response to the nature-nurture debate (Elcock, D Jones).
In terms of pedagogy, we're concerned with how the teaching of conceptual and historical issues can develop critical thinking skills in students and enhance the transition from tertiary to higher education. Colleagues recently contributed to a special edition of
History and Philosophy of Psychology on innovative approaches to teaching CHIP (Elcock, D Jones).
Strands of pedagogic research include the practical and emotional consequences of writing personal reflections for assessment in psychology (Marsh), and a multidisciplinary investigation into reflection in the classroom (K Hughes).