Skip to main content
Sensors monitoring brain activity of a test subject
Research_

Psychology

Advancing knowledge of the brain and human behaviour
We consistently rank among the best psychology schools in the world, attract more than $14 million in competitive research funding annually, and have many researchers supported by prestigious research fellowships.

We offer a well-resourced and stimulating intellectual environment for research, which includes competitive top-up scholarships, teaching fellowships and financial support to attend national and international conferences and other forms of professional development.

Our research students are vital contributors to our excellence in research. They enjoy a supportive and rigorous environment within both their area of specialisation and the wider school community.

Our researchers actively collaborate with other researchers across the University through multidisciplinary initiatives, including:

Our research groups and labs

A psychologist counselling

Clinical

Our clinical psychology research broadly examines the psychological, sociocultural, emotional, intellectual, neuropsychological and behavioural aspects of human functioning in an effort to promote understanding of various disorders, evidence based treatments, healthy development and adjustment.

Training and research clinics provide assessment and intervention for a range of presentations for the university and broader community, as well as facilitating research. Specialist clinics within the School include the Psychology Clinic, the Child Behaviour Research Clinic, the Gambling Treament and Research Clinic and the Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic. 

Associate Professor Maree Abbott

  • Assessment, maintaining factors and enhancing treatment of Social
  • Anxiety Disorder.
  • Assessment, maintaining factors and enhancing treatment of Generalized
  • Anxiety Disorder.
  • Meta-cognitive processes and anxiety disorders
  • The maintenance and treatment of rumination in Social Anxiety Disorder.

Professor Sally Andrews

  • Reading disability
  • Reading/language impairments in developmental or neuropsychological disorders
  • Using reading to track

Professor Alex Blaszczynski

Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri

  • Placebo and nocebo effects
  • Expectancy and treatment interactions
  • Cue-induced craving for food and other drugs

Professor Mark Dadds

  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Parenting and family processes
  • Family therapy
  • Childhood emotional and behavioural problems
  • Learning theory
  • Psychological genetics and epigenetics
  • Child Behaviour Research Clinic

Dr Ilan Dar-Nimrod

  • Death anxiety among clinical populations
  • Aetiological explanations for mental illness and their cascading effects
  • Psychological challenges related to sexuality (e.g., LGBTQI, non-monogamy etc.)

Dr Frances Doyle

  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Parenting practices (including discipline practices), and parent training
  • Social cognitive theory (e.g., investigating moral disengagement, and self-efficacy)
  • Childhood emotional problems (e.g., excessive anxiety) and behavioural problems

Dr Sally Gainsbury

  • Disordered gambling and addictions
  • Internet risk taking and problematic use
  • Internet gaming addiction
  • Internet treatment
  • Harm minimisation, responsible gambling and prevention
  • Warning signs

Dr Micah B. Goldwater

  • Understanding the commonalities and differences in cognitive and neural development between children with and without mental health issues
  • Effects of stressful and impoverished home environments on child development, particularly on cognitive, neural, and educational outcomes
  • How to improve transfer from is learned and experienced in therapy to the "real-world"
  • Seedling Lab

Associate Professor Irina Harris

  • Visual perception and memory in temporal lobe disorders
  • Scene perception and scene construction
  • Short-term memory processes in early dementia
  • Visual Cognition Lab

Associate Professor David Hawes

  • Early childhood development and psychopathology
  • Antisocial behaviour and conduct problems across the lifespan
  • Parenting processes & the parent-child relationship (including attachment)
  • Family-based interventions (including parent training)
  • Emotional and moral development, empathy, callous-unemotional traits

Dr Fiona Hibberd

  • A critical review of the network theory of mental disorders
  • Integrating models of psychotherapy
  • Reviewing assumptions that underpin psychotherapeutic practices
  • The DSM: classification and definition
  • How philosophies of science inform clinical research and practice

Professor Alex Holcombe

  • Attentional biases and attentional mechanisms
  • Disorders of visual imagery and visual memory
  • Palinopsia (persisting afterimages)

Professor Caroline Hunt

  • Assessment, risk and protective factors, and interventions targeting school-based bullying
  • Assessment, risk and protective factors, and interventions targeting adolescent anxiety and depression
  • Cross cultural aspects of mental health and wellbeing
  • Overcoming barriers to mental health care access and use

Dr Ian Johnston

  • Using virtual reality tools to assess and treat mood and cognitive disorders.
  • Assessing a smart-phone app delivered alcohol sobriety program.
  • Assessing the effect of junk food on self-control, and its role in obesity.

Associate Professor Ilona Juraskova

  • Doctor-patient-family communication and development/evaluation of decision-making resources
  • Psychosexual adjustment and quality of life (cancer, HIV)
  • Evaluating a psychological assessment template of women considering risk‐reducing mastectomy
  • Hoarding disorder

Associate Professor Sunny Lah

  • Neuropsychological rehabilitation
  • Nature and mechanism of neuropsychological disorders arising from brain insults
  • Memory deficits in neurological disorders
  • child neuropsychology
  • sleep and treatments of sleep disorders
  • social cognition

Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann

  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Coping
  • Appraisal theories of emotion

Dr Caroline Moul

  • Psychopathy – the cognitive, neural and genetic roots
  • Anxiety from a perspective of basic cognitive function (associative learning and attention)
  • Childhood obesity – psychological perspectives
  • Seedling Lab

Professor Sharon Naismith

  • Ageing and dementia
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Early intervention
  • Cognitive training
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Neuroimaging
  • E-health
  • Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic

Dr Helen Paterson

Associate Professor Paul Rhodes

  • Embodiment, feminism and eating disorders 
  • Decolonisation of clinical psychology 
  • Community based approached to mental health
  • Art-based approached to mental health education and activism; including poetic inquiry, creative writing and fine arts
  • Sociopolitical approaches to mental health

Professor Olivier Piguet

  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Dementia: Early diagnosis and prognosis
  • Social cognition 
  • Neuroimaging
  • FRONTIER Lab

Dr Rebecca Pinkus

  • Romantic relationships and wellbeing
  • Social comparison
  • Weight stigma
  • Social control of health behaviours

Professor Louise Sharpe

  • The efficacy of cognitive and/or behavioural treatments in the management of chronic pain and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Understanding the process of adjustment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other illnesses
  • The role of hypervigilance in the development, maintenance, prevention and treatment of chronic pain

Dr Marianna Szabo

  • Worry, stress and generalised anxiety disorder
  • Mindfulness: effectiveness and mechanisms

Dr Niko Tiliopoulos

  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Psychopathy and the Dark Triad of personality
  • Psychology & psychopathology of religion and spirituality

Professor Stephen Touyz

Eating disorders from the perspective of:

  • clinical psychology
  • psychiatry
  • neuropsychology
  • behavioural medicine
Woman undergoing cognitive psychology experiment

Cognition

Cognitive psychology explores the internal brain processes that people use to store, process, retrieve, transform and use information to interpret objects and events in the world and to solve problems, make decisions, speak and act.

Professor Sally Andrews

  • Language: reading, spelling, word recognition
  • Memory: lexical memory, working memory, implicit memory
  • Bilingualism, cross language comparisons
  • Expertise

Dr Damian Birney

Dr Bruce Burns

  • How streaks of events affect decision making
  • Biases in the interpretation of financial data
  • Hormonal influences on risky choices
  • Cognitive illusions in reasoning
  • Complex problem solving

Associate Professor Thomas Carlson

  • Neural Coding
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Multivariate Pattern Analysis (Brian decoding)
  • Object and Face recognition.
  • Body Perception
  • Social Perception
  • Visual Attention

Dr Karen Croot

  • Speech perception and production, foreign accents
  • Motor learning

Dr Micah B. Goldwater

  • The nature and acquisition of knowledge in children and adults
  • Concept & language learning
  • Science and math education
  • Seedling Lab

Associate Professor Irina Harris

  • Object recognition and interpreting object orientation
  • Visual attention and selection
  • Capacity limits in encoding visual information, repetition blindness, attentional blink
  • Visual Cognition Lab

Dr Fiona Kumfor

  • Social cognition
  • Face processing
  • Emotion perception
  • Ageing and dementia
  • Neuroimaging
  • Memory: emotion memory, episodic memory, semantic memory

Dr Evan Livesey

Professor Sharon Naismith

  • Ageing and dementia
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Early intervention
  • Cognitive training
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Neuroimaging
  • E-health
  • Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic

Dr Caleb Owens

  • The involuntary capture of visual and auditory attention
  • Top-down modulation of attentional capture
  • Inattentional blindness
  • Locus of selection in visual attention
  • False memory and eye-witness testimony
  • Gullibility, reasoning, and problem solving

Dr Helen Paterson

Dr Gareth Roberts

  • The role of oscillatory activity in complex goal-directed behaviour
  • Frontal lobe function across the lifespan

Dr Celine van Golde

Developmental

Two children writing in a notebook

Developmental psychology is concerned with describing and explaining psychological changes that occur as individuals progress from conception to death. Such changes have many sources, including physical maturation, learning, social interaction and other experiences. Developmental Psychology is thus best described as an approach to psychological investigation which can concern itself with typical and atypical development in all domains of psychology, from language and cognition to emotion and social behaviour.

Dr Frances Doyle

  • Social cognitive theory (e.g., investigating moral disengagement, and self-efficacy)
  • Children’s truth- and lie-telling
  • Parental discipline practices

Associate Professor Sunny Lah

  • Impact of epilepsy, epilepsy surgery and head injury on memory and learning ability in children
  • Cognitive fatigue, executive functions and social/moral reasoning in prematurely born children or children who have sustained a head injury

Dr Micah B. Goldwater

  • The nature and acquisition of knowledge in children and adults
  • Concept & language learning
  • Science and math education
  • Seedling Lab

Professor Caroline Hunt

  • Understanding factors involved in school-based bullying

Dr Caroline Moul

  • The development of psychopathy, behavioural genetics and epigenetic processes
  • The developmental mechanisms of disorders, childhood obesity
  • Seedling Lab

Dr Marianna Szabo

  • Children: developmental aspects of worry, anxiety and depression

Professor Fiona White

  • Developmental aspects of prejudice and discrimination
  • The SUPIR Lab

Dr Celine van Golde

Clasped fists in handcuffs

Forensic

Forensic psychology is the application of psychological knowledge and theories to all aspects of the justice system, including the processes and the people. 

Dr Helen Paterson

Associate Professor Pauline Howie

  • Metacognitive factors in children's testimony and event recall
  • Interview techniques to facilitate accurate reporting in children
  • Memory development
  • Source monitoring and imagery

Dr Celine van Golde

Fruit bowls

Health

Health psychology relates broadly to questions about how people stay physically well, and how to optimise their experience and that of their families, when they become ill. Overall, Health Psychologists study the factors which promote and maintain good health and prevent illness, lead people to take up optimal screening to detect illness at an early stage (such as mammograms for the detection of breast cancer), and ensure early and accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, good psychological adjustment to acute and chronic illness, optimal quality of life and optimal end-of-life care.

Health behaviours are key to good health, and are amendable to psychological interventions, so these are a key interest for health psychologists. Health psychologists are also interested in the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation.

Professor Phyllis Butow

Dr Margaret Charles

  • Relationship between social capital and psychological wellbeing
  • Psychological aspects of palliative care

Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri

  • How are placebo and nocebo effects formed?
  • How long do placebo and nocebo effects last?
  • How do cues influence reward-seeking behaviour?
  • Do we need to be aware for learning to occur?
  • How does variability affect our learning?

Dr Ilan Dar-Nimrod

  • Genes by environment interactions and health
  • Cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease
  • Health and risk communication and decision making

Associate Professor Ilona Juraskova

  • Medical decision-making
  • Doctor-patient communication
  • Quality of life outcomes of cancer patients
  • HPV vaccination: psychological impact

Professor Madeleine King

  • Quality of life outcomes of cancer patients
  • Measurement issues in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and other self-reported health outcomes (PROs)
  • Optimising study design and data quality of HRQOL/PROs endpoints in clinical studies, including randomised trials and longitudinal studies
  • Patient preferences and utility estimation in health context, particularly cancer

Dr Rebekah Laidsaar-Powell

  • Psycho-oncology
  • Medical decision-making
  • Health professional-patient communication
  • Family caregivers
  • Qualitative research

Dr Rebecca Pinkus

  • Social cognition
  • Social comparison
  • Close relationships
  • Social control of health behaviours

Dr Claudia Rutherford

  • Patient-reported outcome (PRO) assessment
  • Develop and evaluate quality of life (QOL) measures
  • Develop and evaluate PRO symptom indices and cancer-specific modules
  • Develop decision-making resources for ductal carcinoma in situ

Professor Louise Sharpe

  • Psychological impact of disease
  • Development of interventions to facilitate adjustment to illness
  • Evaluation of interventions for preventing physical and psychological morbidity in patients with ill health

Joanne Shaw

  • Psycho-oncology
  • Medical and health communication
  • Psychophysiology
  • Communicating bad news
  • Medical decision-making
  • Psychological intervention development and evaluation
  • Clinical trial consent
Brain sensing device

Learning

The psychology of learning is concerned with understanding how experience shapes behaviour. Learning research with humans and other animals examines the effect of external stimuli and events, internal physical states, motivation, attention and higher order cognition on the performance of a wide range of simple and complex behaviours, from reflexive biological responses to reasoned decision making.

The study of learning seeks to reveal the theoretical, functional and neurophysiological underpinnings of these behavioural changes.

Professor Robert Boakes

  • Activity and body weight in rats or humans
  • Flavour/odour preference/aversion learning in rats or humans
  • Placebo effects
  • Conditioning in rats or humans
  • Australian Learning Group

Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri

  • How are placebo and nocebo effects formed?
  • How long do placebo and nocebo effects last?
  • How do cues influence reward-seeking behaviour?
  • Do we need to be aware for learning to occur?
  • How does variability affect our learning?

Professor Justin Harris

Dr Ian Johnston

  • Goal directed behaviour
  • Habit formation
  • Executive processes

Dr Evan Livesey

  • The relationship between learning and attention
  • Implicit learning and automaticity
  • Discrimination learning and stimulus generalization
  • Associations and reasoning in causal learning
  • Australian Learning Group
Stacks of textbooks

Method and theory

This group is concerned with the philosophical, theoretical and methodological aspects of research in psychology. These include: the analysis of philosophical and theoretical assumptions that underpin psycho-social research; theory construction; the concept of measurement; evaluating research designs, research types, and the use of descriptive and inferential statistics.

Dr Margaret Charles

  • Quantitative methods
  • Psychological measurement
  • Teaching and learning of statistics

Dr Damian Birney

Dr Fiona Hibberd

  • History and philosophy of psychology
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Conceptual issues in statistics and psychometrics

Associate Professor Sabina Kleitman

  • Using multivariate techniques for individual differences research
  • CODES Lab

Associate Professor Joel Michell

  • History and philosophy of quantitative methods in psychology

Associate Professor Paul Rhodes

  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Narrative Inquiry
  • Critical and Post-Structural Psychology
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Philosophy and Clinical Psychology
Graphic visualisation of neural pathways

Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the study of the biological basis of all aspects of psychology, and is both a basic science and a clinical process to understand and treat psychological and psychiatric disorders. The scope of neuroscience is extensive and neuroscientists employ a wide range of techniques:

Studying the physiology of neural tissue, using animal models of behaviour to investigate the molecular biology and neurochemistry of fundamental psychological processes, and application of neuroimaging techniques to associate brain activity with human perception, action, attention, memory, language, emotion and mood.

Professor Robert Boakes

  • Activity and body weight in rats or humans

Dr Michael Bowen

  • Novel pharmacotherapies for psychiatric and neurological disorders
  • Treatments targeting the brain oxytocin system
  • Treatments targeting extrasynaptic GABAA receptors
  • Substance-use disorders and social disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder)
  • Novel neural systems involved in neurological and mental health disorders
  • Cannabinoid therapeutics
  • Cellular and animal models
  • The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics

Associate Professor Thomas Carlson

  • Neural Coding
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Multivariate Pattern Analysis (Brian decoding)
  • Object and Face recognition.
  • Body Perception
  • Social Perception
  • Visual Attention

Professor Ian Curthoys

  • The anatomy and physiology of the vestibular system
  • Vestibular loss and compensation
  • Long-term potentiation (LTP)
  • The role of the hippocampus in spatial memory
  • The role of the hippocampus in spatial learning

Associate Professor Irina Harris

  • Neural processes (using transcranial magnetic stimulation - TMS) underlying:
  • object recognition
  • Visual attention and selection
  • Capacity limits in encoding visual information, repetition blindness, attentional blink
  • Visual Cognition Lab

Professor Justin Harris

Dr Ian Johnston

  • Psycho-neuroimmunology
  • Neurochemistry of complex cognition

Associate Professor Sunny Lah

  • Neuropsychological rehabilitation
  • Impact of neurological disorders and/or brain injury on psychological functioning

Professor Iain McGregor

Dr Gareth Roberts

  • Methodological advances in electrophysiological data analysis
  • The role of oscillatory activity in complex goal-directed behaviour
  • Frontal lobe function across the lifespan

Professor Frans Verstraten

  • Functional Neuro-Imaging.
  • Adaptation and aftereffects
  • Motion perception
  • Search and eye-movements
  • Optic flow, heading and moving observers
  • Time perception
  • Visual delusion
  • Attention
  • Virtual Reality
  • History of cognitive neuroscience
Athletes running

Organisational

Organisational psychology focuses on the application of the research, theory and practice of psychology to the enhancement of life experience, work performance and development of organisations and groups. Coaching psychology encompasses executive coaching, workplace coaching, leadership development and personal coaching at both group and individual levels.

In coaching the key theoretical frameworks include solution-focused, cognitive-behavioural, and psychodynamic theory, complexity/systems theory and adult developmental theory.

Dr Michael Cavanagh

  • Coaching; workplace, life and health
  • Meta-cognition and attention in self regulation and emotional regulation
  • Client coach relationships
  • Positive psychology, wellbeing and goal attainment
  • Leadership and adult development
  • Mindfulness
  • Group functioning and team development
  • The Coaching Psychology Unit

Professor Anthony Grant

  • Life, workplace and executive coaching
  • Socio-cognitive issues in the psychology of coaching and performance enhancement
  • Trans-theoretical model of change
  • Evaluation of personal development programs
  • Applied positive psychology
  • Insight and self-reflection
  • The Coaching Psychology Unit

Dr Sean O'Connor

  • Coaching; Workplace and Leadership
  • Positive Organisational Change
  • Positive psychology, wellbeing and goal attainment
  • Leadership and Network Cognitions
  • Social Network Analysis and Systems
  • Technology and Self development
  • The Coaching Psychology Unit
Man wearing device for a visual perception experiment

Perception

The process by which signals from the sensory periphery (receptors in the eyes, ears, skin etc) are interpreted and organised to produce a meaningful experience of the external world. By representing the objects and attributes of our surrounding environment, perception allows us to interact with our world.

We run an informal discussion group and journal club where we discuss a broad spectrum of topics in perception.

Professor David Alais

  • Visual perception of motion & orientation
  • Binocular rivalry
  • Auditory movement
  • Auditory localization during head movements
  • interactions between visual and auditory movement
  • audio-visual attention
  • Models of cross-modal integration

Professor Bart Anderson

  • Perceptual organization
  • Computation of three dimensional shape of surfaces
  • Surface reflectance
  • Material properties of surfaces

Dr Ann Burgess

  • Eye position and visual perception
  • Vestibular perceptual judgments
  • Eye movements during linear accelerations
  • Eye movements and perception to bone conducted sound
  • Vestibular Research Laboratory

Associate Professor Thomas Carlson

  • Neural Coding
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Multivariate Pattern Analysis (Brian decoding)
  • Object and Face recognition.
  • Body Perception
  • Social Perception
  • Visual Attention

Professor Ian Curthoys

  • The anatomy and physiology of the vestibular system
  • Vestibular loss and compensation
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • Eye movements, especially ocular torsion
  • Linear acceleration and angular acceleration stimulation
  • Vestibular Research Laboratory

Professor Alex Holcombe

  • Processing letters and words
  • Binding perceptual features
  • Temporal aspects of perception and visual cognition
  • Capacity limits on perceptual processing

Associate Professor Hamish MacDougall

Professor Frans Verstraten

  • Vision Science, perception: motion perception, adaptation, attention, binocular vision, illusions, neuro-imaging, Artificial Intelligence
  • Perceptual aspects of Advertising & Marketing Communication
Large metal frame structure of a human head

Personality and intelligence

Our research focus is on the understanding of (a) trait theories of intelligence (including traditional notions of and emotional intelligence), metacognition and personality; (b) the core individual characteristics (cognitive/metacognitive abilities, normal and abnormal personality, mental and, religion and spirituality, and decision-making paradigms) that influence/predict different life outcomes; and (c) the ways these individual differences serve as the bases of much of contemporary psychological assessment in educational, clinical, cross-cultural, forensic, and organizational settings.

Dr Damian Birney

Associate Professor Sabina Kleitman

  • Meta-cognition
  • Decision-making
  • Cognitive styles/thinking dispositions and their role in cognition
  • Cognitive response-selection strategies and their role in academic achievements
  • CODES Lab

Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Coping with stress
  • Methodological issues in personality assessment
  • Response distortion in personality assessment
  • Non-cognitive predictors of academic achievement

Dr Gareth Roberts

  • Individual differences in cognitive control, learning and fluid intelligence
  • Theoretical perspectives on human consciousness, attention and intelligence

Dr Niko Tiliopoulos

  • Personality - the traits approach
  • Adult attachment styles
  • Psychology & psychopathology of religion & spirituality
  • Cross-cultural psychological elements of faith
Silhouettes standing in front of a large collage of profile photos

Social

What makes social psychology social is that it focuses on how people are affected by other people. In particular, social psychology is the scientific investigation of attitudes, feelings and behaviour, and the interactions between these components. A fundamental goal of social psychology is to understand the factors that shape people's interpersonal relationships and their experiences in the social world.

Dr Ilan Dar-Nimrod

  • Social cognition
  • Person perception
  • Genes by environment interactions
  • Existential psychology
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Gender
  • Stereotypes and prejudice

Dr Karen Gonsalkorale

  • Social cognition
  • Intergroup relations
  • Stereotyping and prejudice
  • Gender roles
  • Women’s identification with Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM)
  • Ostracism

Dr Helen Paterson

Dr Rebecca Pinkus

  • Social cognition
  • Social comparison
  • Close relationships
  • Social control of health behaviours

Dr Celine van Golde

Professor Fiona White

  • Forms of prejudice/discrimination
  • The reduction of intergroup bias/prejudice/discrimination
  • Improving the measurement of intergroup bias/prejudice/discrimination
  • The SUPIR Lab