Division of Psychology

Division of Psychology

Division of Psychology is situated within the School of Applied Sciences.

Our research contributes to the University research themes of Society, Security and Creative Industries.

The Psychology Division is a highly research-active group which achieves significant research impact. We are actively involved in many community projects and have strong research links with local, national and international organisations, and are part of established research networks and collaborations with researchers worldwide. As part of a highly collaborative and diverse group of scholars at Abertay, we are particularly invested in inter-disciplinary research and are innovating in the use of creative technology in understanding and developing human behaviour.

Our research is organised across three collaborative research groups:

  • Cognition and Vision Science: covering vision, language, sensori-motor processing and memory
  • Development, learning and evolution: covering child development, ageing, learning (including language and motor learning), and evolution (including cultural evolution)
  • Policing, security and forensic science: covering investigative psychology, security systems and forensic sciences

Examples of projects within each of these research groups are available below.

Cognition and Vision Science

Vision Science

Work on visual perception examines how different types of colouration in nature to help to optimise camouflage and warning colouration in real-world contexts, while simultaneously improving understanding of visual systems. Other work tackles the problems that occur in computer interfaces by using animation techniques to effectively guide user attention in complex visual arrays. This research has developed novel interactive experiences to support special user groups such as older or disabled users, e.g. the Tapology project.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Neuroscience research examines the neural basis of a variety of abilities such as aesthetic experience of dance, body structure representation, mathematical cognition and visuospatial attention. Other research evaluates cognitive change in dementia and Parkinsons.

Development, Learning and Evolution

Self-processing in Children

Research on self processing reveals robust attention and memory biases. This research examines how these biases develop in children, how they are affected by developmental disorders, and how they can be harnessed to improve children’s learning in academic settings.

Language Learning and Processing

Research on language learning and processing investigates how children and adults represent linguistic structure, how they learn and use different linguistic variants, such as dialects or speech registers, and how this may impact lexical representation and literacy acquisition. Some of our research on this work featured in the BBC Timeline series.

Evolutionary and Biological Approaches to Behaviour

Research on the evolution of social and cognitive abilities compares specific abilities like object use, problem solving, social learning strategies, and prosocial, cooperative behaviours in non-human primates such as gibbons, chimpanzees and bonobos with human children and adults. Research on evolutionary origins of individual differences examines influences on romantic and social attraction and the origins and consequences of laterality differences by exploring factors such as masculinity, femininity, dominance, competition and rivalry as well as the relationship between laterality, emotion, behavioural inhibition and task performance.

Policing, Security and Forensic Science

Forensic Psychology and Missing Persons

Interdisciplinary research on missing people is aimed at understanding the varied circumstances and outcomes of when people go missing, to enable different agencies e.g. law-enforcement practitioners, voluntary sector organisations and other academics throughout the UK and internationally, to help prioritise the experience of missing people and to strengthen global understanding of missing.

Information for researchers

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Postgraduate student

Postgraduate Research

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Division Leader

Dr Clare Cunningham

Dr Clare Cunningham

School of Applied Sciences | Head of Division

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