Research in the Department of Psychology

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Goldsmiths' Department of Psychology is a flourishing centre of study and research: one in five of our students is a postgraduate.

A mural painting of a wall

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise we were ranked 24th amongst UK psychology departments (in the top third of those who submitted). We rose strongly relative to the last exercise (2001), outperforming every department of the 17 who were ranked equally with us previously, and moving ahead of 6 others who were ranked above us in 2001.

This result reflected the academic staff's excellent publications (50% of which were rated as leading international or world-class), and our strong research environment.

The judgement of our research environment was based on our successes in attracting external grants from a wide range of national and international sources to employ additional research staff, on our ESRC recognition of our postgraduate research training, and on our strong performance in winning competitive ESRC funding for postgraduate studentships and postdoctoral fellowships.

Since 2008 we have strategically and successfully developed our research groups, grant income, MSc and PhD programmes. Goldsmiths is a major partner in London Social Science, an ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Centre between Goldsmiths and Queen Mary.

The Department's research is structured around four main clusters

The Applied Psychology cluster includes forensic psychology, occupational psychology (including staff situated in the recently opened Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths), media and music psychology, and applied social psychology. Research in this cluster is particularly impactful and engaged with end-user groups while being grounded in rigorous research approaches.

The Brain and Cognition cluster carries out research in visual and spatial attention, working memory, integration across sensory modalities, reinforcement learning, problem-solving, eye-witness identification, musical cognition, and cross-cultural psychology. Research in this cluster involves behavioural, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging methods including electro-encephalography (EEG), trans-cranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electrical brain stimulation (tDCS/tACS) as well as neurofeedback research, eye-tracking, computational modelling, motion capture technology, electromyography (EMG), and galvanic skin response (GSR).

The Individual Differences, Social Processes and Psychopathology cluster is one of the largest groups in the UK researching into personality, intelligence and clinical conditions such as depression and anxiety, as well as social processes. A recent emphasis has been on behavioural genetics and gene-behaviour association studies, as well as prejudice and discrimination.

The Typical and Atypical Development cluster carries out cutting edge studies on typical development and atypical development, including conditions such as autism spectrum disorder,emotional behaviour disorders and developmental coordination disorder. The group's research focuses on a wide range of topics, including executive functions, savant skills, music perception and cognition, colour perception and categorisation, social learning and autobiographical memory, the development of multisensory integration and processes involved in ageing.

Research units

The Unit for School and Family Studies is headed by Dr Alice Jones. Its aims are to pursue research in the areas of social and emotional development, particularly as they affect children in school, and families. Recent research areas include antisocial behaviour in schools; social exclusion; and evaluations of interventions for children experiencing difficulties at school. It is currently leading an ESRC-funded Indian-European research network on bullying and pupil well-being.

InLab is the International Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Investigations into Individual Differences in Learning, and is a collaborative research group, dedicated to understanding the origins of differences in people's learning. In cross-cultural research, it combines different disciplines, including experimental and other areas of psychology, genetics, neuroscience, and education. Headed by Dr Yulia Kovas, the group has had many active associate members in other leading UK institutions, as well as China, Russia, Kyrgyzia, US, and Canada with an ultimate goal of understanding the complex interactions between genetic, social, and cultural factors in their effects on learning and cognition.

The Sensorimotor Development Research Unit (SDRU), headed by Dr Andy Bremner investigates the typical and atypical development in early infancy and childhood, of the multisensory, cognitive and motor abilities which enable us to perceive, understand, and act with our bodies within the context of our environments. The SDRU includes the Goldsmiths InfantLab which uses behavioural and EEG methods to examine sensorimotor development in infancy.

The Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU), headed by Professor Chris French, aims to explain ostensibly paranormal experiences in terms of known psychological and physical factors. Recent projects have investigated memory for anomalous experiences and the psychology of alien contact, conspiracy theories and haunt-type experiences.

The Department has a strong reputation in digital consumer research,and has formed a "spin-out" company, i2 media, which aims to understand the digital media experiences and needs of consumers. The company's research runs alongside related academic projects within the Department.

Several research projects are currently listed in the ProjectShop, which is a new initiative in crowd-funding research.

As emphasised by our Applied Psychology research cluster, we have a strong and active interest in applying psychological theory to real-world issues and problems. Recent examples of our research which have had a direct influence on practice and policy include work on eye-witness identification, witness interviewing, bullying, rehabilitation after brain injury, consumer use of digital media, stress in the workplace, and employment experiences for those with autism.

The resources underpinning our ability to carry out these many and varied types of research include state-of-the-art research facilities here at Goldsmiths, as well as well-established connections with other universities and research groups both in this country and internationally, and with a wide range of agencies and organisations in the public and private sectors, including hospitals, schools, prisons, charities, government bodies and commercial organisations. These links provide excellent opportunities for you to become involved in collaborative research in many different settings.

Example outside collaborations

The department has a partnership with the Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre and Neurodisability Service (BBIRCNS). Located in Blackheath (approximately a mile from Goldsmiths) this specialist centre has two units which provide comprehensive assessment, rehabilitation, care and community reintegration for adults with acquired brain injury and neurological conditions. Students with an interest in acquired cognitive disorders may have the opportunity to gain highly relevant clinical and/or research experience at the BBIRCNS.

In addition, the department has a partnership with leading advertising agency, adam&eveDDB. Located in Paddington, this agency is interested in working with students and their supervisors to better understand the mechanisms by which advertising works, and the extent to which new scientific methodologies can be applied in this real-world setting.

The Department also hosts the Scientist in Residence collaboration.

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