School of Psychology

Plymouth is a centre of excellence in psychological research. In the last Research Excellence Framework assessment over 80% of our research outputs were rated as either international (3*) or world-leading (4*) quality. This puts us in the top 20 nationally on this measure, and above institutions such as Bristol, UCL, Manchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth. Our research impact was equal to that of Exeter, and we were the top rated modern university overall.

The School holds a Bronze Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to improving gender equality.

The University of Plymouth holds a Silver Award in the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), and was commended for its course design and assessment practices; its institution-wide focus on student employability, work-based learning and entrepreneurship; and the sustained and substantial institutional investment programme to enhance learning resources, both physical and digital.

We take our students' experience at Plymouth very seriously.  See what it is like studying here through the School of Psychology web pages, compare us with other Universities in the region, and find out about some of our recent graduates or about our international exchange year and optional work-placement year.

School of Psychology Twitter

Wide range of careers

Our graduates go on to pursue a wide range of careers after studying their first degree. Whether you continue studying for a further degree or look for employment straight away our emphasis on employability will put you ahead of other graduates.

Successful graduates

If you would like to find out what other psychology graduates are currently doing, please visit the psychology and social sciences interest area.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The three schools of Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology combine world-leading research and practical expertise across a wide range of scientific and practical disciplines.

Our staff and students form a diverse learning community and we are proud to support them in being themselves by celebrating how diversity enriches all of our lives.

In line with University policy, we do not tolerate bullying or harassment and we are continually working on how best to support everyone in being the best they can be.

Find out more about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Plymouth

The Brain Research & Imaging Centre (BRIC), the most advanced multi-modal brain imaging facility in the Southwest, provides the sea-change to enhance the quality of our research in human neuroscience.

With seven cutting-edge human research laboratories, including an MRI suite with the most advanced 3-Tesla scanner in the region, it will critically advance our enquiry, toward the most advanced brain research, improved radiological diagnostics and better patient care.

The partnership of University of Plymouth, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and DDRC Healthcare is central to our wider aims of delivering rapid improvements to health and well-being in the region and beyond, supporting commercial development and integrating research into education at the highest levels.

School of Psychology in the media

Could robots be counsellors? Early research shows positive user experience

Jackie Andrade and Joana Galvão Gomes da Silva have shown for the first time that a social robot can deliver a ‘helpful’ and ‘enjoyable’ motivational interview (MI), a counselling technique designed to support behaviour change.

TOUGH LOVE? The meaner your friends are, the more they care about you, study shows (The Sun)

Research by Belén López-Pérez in the School of Psychology suggests that people who gave 'tough love' to their friends were actually more like to empathise with them and want them to succeed.

Psychology academic navigates Moral Maze on Radio 4

Dr Susan Blackmore, Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology, has appeared on Radio 4’s Moral Maze programme discussing whether religious orthodoxy is able to exist in a world of increasingly liberal values.

EU eyes high-tech cleanup for plastic pollution in rivers - Deutsche Welle

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology, urges scientists from different fields to work together to address the cause of the plastic pollution.

Plymouth develop resource to assist health services deliver more personalised care - Care Appointments

A study by Dr Helen Lloyd sees the development of a practical tool to support organisations and practitioners achieve the organisational change which needs to happen if they are to provide personalised and coordinated care for people with multiple long term conditions.

‘Social media culture can encourage risky and inappropriate posting behaviour’ (Telegraph)

A new study by Claire White in the School of Psychology has received national coverage after investigating why young adults might post content on social media that contains sexual or offensive material. 

Research on link between creativity and risk-taking (Guardian)

'The Guardian' invites readers to take a seven-question test, and, according to Vaibav Tyagi, Yaniv Hanoch, Stephen Hall and Sue Denham from the School of Psychology, if you score 6 or 7 out of 7, you count as more risk taking, and therefore more creative, than the average person.

Latest publications

Here is a list of some recent papers published by the School of Psychology: you can find a full list from this year and previous years on our research pages

  • Margraf J, Lavallee KL, Zhang XC, Woike JK & Schneider S 2020 'Mental health and the wish to have a child: a longitudinal, cross-cultural comparison between Germany and China' Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 1-13 , DOI
  • Trudel N, Scholl J, Klein-Flügge MC, Fouragnan E, Tankelevitch L, Wittmann MK & Rushworth MFS 2020 'Polarity of uncertainty representation during exploration and exploitation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex' Nature Human Behaviour , DOI PEARL
  • Hyland ME 2020 'A reformulated contextual model of psychotherapy for treating anxiety and depression' Clinical Psychology Review 80, 101890-101890 , DOI
  • Ward E, Berry C, Shanks D, Moller P & Czsiser E 2020 'Aging predicts decline in explicit and implicit memory: A lifespan study' Psychological Science , DOI PEARL
  • Wittmann M, Fouragnan E, Folloni D, Klein-Flugge M, Chau B, Khamassi M & Rushworth M 2020 'Global reward state affects learning and activity in raphe nucleus and anterior insula in monkeys' Nature Communications , DOI PEARL
  • Kanngiesser P, Sunderarajan J & Woike JK 2020 'Keeping them honest: Promises reduce cheating in adolescents' Journal of Behavioral Decision Making , DOI PEARL
  • Wang H-T, Ho NSP, Bzdok D, Bernhardt BC, Margulies DS, Jefferies E & Smallwood J 2020 'Neurocognitive patterns dissociating semantic processing from executive control are linked to more detailed off-task mental time travel' Scientific Reports 10, (1) , DOI PEARL
  • Galvão Gomes da Silva J, Kavanagh DJ, May J & Andrade J 2020 'Say it aloud: Measuring change talk and user perceptions in an automated, technology-delivered adaptation of motivational interviewing delivered by video-counsellor' Internet Interventions , DOI PEARL
  • Ahmadpoor N, Smith A & Heath T 2020 'Rethinking legibility in the era of digital mobile maps: An empirical study' Journal of Urban Design , DOI PEARL
  • Ho NSP, Poerio G, Konu D, Turnbull A, Sormaz M, Leech R, Bernhardt B, Jefferies E & Smallwood J 2020 'Facing up to the wandering mind: Patterns of off-task laboratory thought are associated with stronger neural recruitment of right fusiform cortex while processing facial stimuli' NeuroImage 214, 116765-116765 , DOI PEARL
  • Turnbull A, Garfinkel SN, Ho NSP, Critchley HD, Bernhardt BC, Jefferies E & Smallwood J 2020 'Word up – Experiential and neurocognitive evidence for associations between autistic symptomology and a preference for thinking in the form of words' Cortex 128, 88-106 , DOI
  • Knight E, Norman A & Simpson G 2020 'Living with suicidality following traumatic brain injury: A qualitative study' Brain Injury , DOI PEARL
  • Botvinik-Nezer R, Holzmeister F, Camerer CF, Dreber A, Huber J, Johannesson M, Kirchler M, Iwanir R, Mumford JA & Adcock RA 2020 'Variability in the analysis of a single neuroimaging dataset by many teams' Nature 582, (7810) 84-88 , DOI PEARL
  • Ganis G 2020 'Imagination and Moral Cognition' in Abraham A The Cambridge Handbook of the Imagination Cambridge University Press 390-405
  • Lavan N, Mileva M & McGettigan C 2020 'How does familiarity with a voice affect trait judgements?' British Journal of Psychology , DOI PEARL
  • Morris R 2020 'Mental Capacity Past, Present and Future: An overview' Assessing Mental Capacity A Handbook to Guide Professionals from Basic to Advanced Practice Routledge PEARL
  • Köster M, Langeloh M, Kliesch C, Kanngiesser P & Hoehl S 2020 'Motor cortex activity during action observation predicts subsequent action imitation in human infants' NeuroImage 116958-116958 , DOI PEARL
  • Kavanagh DJ, Teixeira H, Connolly J, Andrade J, May J, Godfrey S, Carroll A, Taylor K & Connor JP 2020 'The Motivational Thought Frequency scales for increased physical activity and reduced high-energy snacking' British Journal of Health Psychology , DOI PEARL
  • Ahmadpoor N & Smith A 2020 'Spatial knowledge acquisition and mobile maps: The role of environmental legibility' Cities , DOI PEARL
  • Norman A, Holloway M, Odumuyiwa T, Kennedy M, Forrest H, Suffield F & Dicks H 2020 'Accepting what we do not know: A need to improve professional understanding of Brain Injury in the UK' Health and Social Care in the Community 1-13 , DOI PEARL