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Research

The Department of Psychology is committed to producing theoretical and applied research of the highest quality. 

See our available research facilities

Cognition, Emotion and Behaviour

The Cognition group encompasses a wide spectrum of both applied and theoretical research that reflects the multiplicity of interests in our team. For example, a number of our colleagues investigate the cognitive deficits caused by drug misuse. Research by members of the group also looks at certain aspects of memory. These include the development and production of false memories, collaborative remembering, memory conformity, and the effects of mood on prospective memory.

Examples of Cognition, Emotion and Behaviour research

Expertise, Development & Neural Plasticity

This research group investigates broad developmental issues related to expertise training and human learning, among children and adult populations.  The research domains include perceptual, cognitive, and motoric processes, as well as social issues such as Theory of Mind, autism, dyslexia, among others. We conduct behavioural experiments and observational studies, and employ a variety of research technologies, such as eye-trackers, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (TMS, tDCS), brain imaging (fMRI, TDI), and computational modelling.

The Expertise, Development and Neural Plasticity research group also hosts two smaller research labs:

Autism Lab BabyLab

Examples of Expertise, Development & Neural Plasticity research

Health, Lifestyles & Wellbeing

The Health research group covers three main themes of research: Social Identification, Health and Cognition, and Health and Sport. Research members investigate a range of psychosocial (e.g. social identities and social support) and contextual influences on behaviour, and attempt to expand theoretical models of coping and adjustment. As a result, this research deals with real-world issues ranging from the social implications arising from racism, motivation, and happiness, to substance misuse, or to the impact of stress, coping, emotion and mental toughness as revealed in the context of sport.

Examples of Health, Lifestyles & Wellbeing research

Substance Use and Misuse Lab

The Substance Use and Misuse Lab investigates the social, biological and cognitive drivers of substance use and misuse. With a view to improving strategies for promoting successful behaviour change, we examine the psychological and social processes shaping alcohol, drug, food consumption and doping, as well as studying the consequences of intake across the lifespan. The Substance Use and Misuse Lab is a member of the Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research, connected to Liverpool Health Partners.

Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research logo

Our research uses cutting-edge technologies, including Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), Eye Tracking and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)/ Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). We also carry out laboratory-based cognitive experiments, alcohol administration, test blood, hair and saliva under the Human Tissue Act in accordance with Edge Hill University’s Human Tissue Act Committee, and conduct real-time examinations of substance use behaviours, and cognitions, using field observation techniques, interviews, questionnaires and specially designed Smartphone applications.

Insights for the community

Our research is being used to inform community initiatives and support. Specifically this relates to supporting people who may be coming off recreational drugs such as heroin and also about issues relating to alcohol consumption.

Development and first validation of the Refined Alcohol Expectancy Task (RAET)

Our research into heroin use has produced some general insights listed below. However, these are general points. When it comes to you as an individual, or to somebody else you know, always discuss such things with the professional drug workers supporting you, or suggest to the other person that they raise them with their support workers.

  • Wanting to stop because you have legal problems, or cannot afford to use it, does not generally help you come off and stay off heroin. Always discuss your readiness for withdrawal carefully with the professional workers supporting you before making any withdrawal attempt. (Research basis: see [13])
  • Confidence that you can come off heroin and stay off can be a good predictor that you may succeed. Always discuss your readiness for withdrawal carefully with the professional workers supporting you before making any withdrawal attempt. (Research basis: see [1, 313])
  • Going through a withdrawal programme before you are ready is unlikely to be successful. Always discuss your readiness for withdrawal carefully with the professional workers supporting you before making any withdrawal attempt. (Research basis: see [1, 4])
  • It is better to stay on maintenance until you are ready to try to withdraw, with appropriate support. Your feelings of dependence upon your maintenance treatment can be a good indicator of how ready you are for withdrawal. Always discuss your readiness for withdrawal carefully with the professional workers supporting you before making any withdrawal attempt. (Research basis: see [1, 4])
  • Coming out of prison is a point of high risk for death by overdose. You will have lost your tolerance to heroin, and may be keen to ‘make up for lost time’. What was previously a normal dose may now kill you. Seek professional help if you do not believe you can stay off heroin in this situation. (Research basis: see [4])

Bases in our research for the summary points

Our research into alcohol has produced some general insights listed below. However, these are general points. When it comes to you as an individual, always consider the importance of discussing their relevance with those who are supporting you.

  • Heavy social drinking can be related to impairments in memory. (Research basis: see [14])
  • Your expectations of the effects of drinking alcohol play an important role in determining whether you start a drinking episode, and how much you actually consume. (Research basis: see [2710])
  • Both the sight and smell of alcohol can lead to an increase in consumption beyond what you initially intended. (Research basis: see [36])
  • The context in which you consume alcohol can play an important role in how much you actually consume, sometimes leading to consumption beyond what was originally intended (Research basis: see [25])
  • Pictures of alcohol can influence changes in the amount of food we eat and the amount of non-alcoholic drinks we consume. (Research basis: see [3])

Bases in our research for the summary points

Examples of research in the lab

Multimodal Communication

The group comprises researchers who explore a range of interactional and communicational behaviour, using both experimental and qualitative methods, and includes researchers from neuroscience, cognitive, developmental and social psychology. The research of this group offers a major reconceptualisation of human communication, by recognising and prioritising the multimodality of communication. Research focuses on the close connections between gestures, speech and thinking in linguistic generation, speech and nonverbal communication in impression formation in courtrooms, multimodal communication in autism, multimodality in the digital age, the neuroscientific basis of processing multimodal messages etc.

Members of the group focus on a range of different genres of communication, such as online communication, political discourse, communication in socio-legal and work contexts, communication in instruction and learning, communication in clinical settings, communication in negotiation and decision-making etc. The group has both a theoretical and an applied focus, with particular emphasis on identifying communicational features and strategies that are effective in different social, political and cultural contexts. Much of the research is Interdisciplinary in nature involving important collaborations with linguistics, semiotics, criminology, computer science, education and health.

Key achievements are several books and monographs that have changed both academic and public understanding of human communication e.g. ‘Rethinking Body Language’ (Routledge), ‘The Conflicted Mind’ (Routledge) and which have attracted major international interest, in terms of both foreign translations and reviews, major public engagement activities, prestigious public and academic keynotes including at the Museum of London (on behalf of Gresham College), and at the launch of the new International Multimodal Communication Centre at Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA), University of Oxford, October 2019.

Research spotlight

Examples of Multimodal Communication research

In the news

Research internship scheme

If you’re interested in taking part in some research, we offer a great internship scheme for our students.

Find out more about the research internship scheme