The Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development at Oxford Brookes
has a thriving community of research active staff and research scholars. In the
UK government's latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) 95% of our research
was internationally recognised and 60% of the impact of our research was rated
We collaborate across disciplines and work with health and education professionals
as well as partners in industry to develop knowledge and understanding that informs
policy and improves people's lives. Our research has led to improved practice
guidelines in both health and education, the development of valuable assessment
tools and the adoption of new policies and practices.
We continue to attract significant funding awards from bodies including the ESRC
and MRC, Burdett Trust for Nursing, Technology Strategy Board, National Institute
for Health Research and the Leverhulme Trust as well as many charities and commercial
Psychology research is organised into three main research areas: Developmental
Psychology, Adult Cognition and Applied Social Psychology. In addition, our Institute
for Research in Child Development draws across the departmental disciplines of
psychology, social work and public health and investigates pregnancy and birth,
early childhood right through to adolescence and young adulthood.
Research areas and clusters
Developmental Psychology Research Group
There are three main strands to research in this group:
Cognitive and social development - this includes work on the impact
of socio-cultural contexts on human cognition and identity development, children's
understanding of emotion, the nature of mother-child interactions and children's
interactions with their peers.
Language and literacy - this has a focus on the development of
speech, reading, spelling, writing and handwriting.
Developmental disorders - this includes research on children with
hearing impairment, specific language impairment, dyslexia, developmental coordination
disorder, autism and sleep disorders.
Some of our research focuses on the description of typical development and explanation
of developmental processes in different domains. Other work is concerned with
understanding the mechanisms underlying atypical development and an examination
of ways to support children and their families. Several staff in this research
group work with professionals from other disciplines including health and education
and are concerned with the production of practical assessment tools and the evaluation
of intervention approaches to help children achieve their full potential.
Much of our work is conducted in schools and family homes. Research conducted on
site at Oxford Brookes usually takes place in one of our specialist labs. We
have a BabyLab with special facilities including an eye-tracker and observation
room. We also have a Perception and Motion Analysis (PuMA) Lab with equipment
for the detailed analysis of movement.
Adult Cognition Research Group
There are three dominant research strands in this group: (1) Visual Cognition -
exploring mechanisms of selective attention, attentional orienting, object formation,
and the representation of information in visual short term memory (2) Perception
and Action - looking at the cognitive processes associated with processing of
stimuli containing action possibilities (affordances), and with the preparation
and execution of everyday actions such as reaching & grasping towards objects
and walking; (3) Remembering Past & Imagining Future Events - research looks
at the way that memory supports our identity, and in the way that ideas about
the future (e.g. prospective memory) are related to health and behaviour change.
A variety of methods and techniques are employed in exploring these areas. These
include psychophysical techniques such as masking, eye-tracking technology, movement
analysis equipment, use of Neuropsychological instruments, as well as Cognitive
Neuroscience techniques such as Event Related Potentials (ERPs) and Transcranial
Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Our research includes work in healthy adult populations,
as well as in certain clinical groups such as dementia, autism, and Developmental
Coordination Disorder (DCD). Some members of the Adult Cognition Group work alongside
clinicians at local hospitals and have collaborators at other academic institutions
both nationally and internationally.
Applied Social Psychology Research Group
The members of this research group investigate the way that individuals' beliefs,
actions and aspirations are intertwined with both the immediate social groups
and also the wider culture in which they are embedded. Unpicking the fascinating
way in which personal and socio-cultural factors are interwoven (and sometimes
rebelled against) has enabled our researchers to apply their theoretical and
methodological knowledge to many areas of contemporary concern.
Our recent research has enabled us to: advise manufacturers and policy makers of
the key factors that determine whether people adapt to innovative green technologies
successfully; advise international military officers on the fundamental psychological
and socio-cultural influences leading to violent insurgency; advise the British
Army on the integration of full and part time members; inform the debate surrounding
the possible introduction of a minimum-pricing policy to address alcohol misuse;
understand the way in which people use music to express their personal and social
identities; explore the use of social media to instigate social connection in
individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC); highlight personal and cultural
differences in the determinants of organ donation; conduct a new evaluation of
programmes designed to enhance children's safety.