Dr Tim Auburn
Honorary Research Fellow
School of Psychology (Faculty of Health)
- Social psychology
- Criminal justice
- Discursive psychology
- Analysing conversation
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Associate Professor. My responsibilities are to enable learning in the areas of Social Psychology; conduct research (see Research profile) and act as School tutor to our cohort of students studying psychology as their minor subject
I obtained my first degree in Psychology from the University of Leeds in 1977. From there I went to study on the M.Sc. in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey which I successfully completed in 1978.
I then spent two years as a Research Assistant in the Department of Applied Psychology at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST) where I worked with Dr. Dylan Jones and Dr. Tony Chapman. The project on which I worked concerned the effects of noise on human performance and social behaviour. I registered for a Ph.D. on this topic which I eventually completed in 1985.
Since 1980 I have worked as a lecturer/senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth mostly teaching aspects of Social Psychology and Environmental Psychology
I am a graduate member of the British Psychological Society. I am a teaching fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
I teach social psychology and environmental psychology on the psychology degree programme, specialising in 'sociological' approaches to social psychology, social interaction, discursive psychology, conversation analysis and discourse analysis. I also teach qualitative research methods at undergraduate and post-graduate level.
Staff serving as external examiners
I have acted as external examiner for the MSc in Social Psychology and the MSc in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey. I have also acted as external examiner for Ph.D.'s in the Department of Social Science, Loughborough University as well as external examiner for the recently developed MSc in Conversation Analysis
My research interests centre on discursive psychology and social interaction particularly in relation to institutional contexts such as the criminal justice system. Most recently I have been involved as Principal Investigator with colleagues in the School of Law (Jill Annison and Daniel Gilling), on a 2 year ESRC funded project examining the operation of the Community Justice court at Plymouth. This project is investigating in detail how this court works including its relationship with other public and third sector organisations and how problem solving works as a unique practice within the court. We are applying a number of largely qualitative methods to this investigation including qualitative interviews with key participants, ethnographic observations, and conversation analysis.
More recently in collaboration with Christianne Pollock I have been investigating how children with severe autism interact with their teachers, parents and therapists. I also have research interests in the psychology of place within the field of environmental psychology.
My research interest in conversation analysis and discursive psychology entails the detailed examination of how social interaction unfolds moment to moment. This examination produces an understanding of how particular contexts are brought into being and rendered meaningful through people's engagement with one another. Particular research projects in which I have used this approach are:
- Examining the social organisation of police-suspect interviews.
- The analysis of prison-based sex-offender treatment groups for how treatment is oriented to and accomplished.
- How students construct the experience of a placement year and the effects of this year on their subsequent course of study.
I am also interested in understanding how people can be persuaded to adopt pro-environmental behaviours. A recent project examined how visualising heat loss in domestic residences can be a persuasive prompt for behaviour change.
My other main area of research interest is in place. With Beccy Barnes, who undertook a Ph.D. on Place and Citizenship, I have been interested reconceptualising the traditional environmental psychology idea of place. To this end we have examined how place is 'storied into being' and what follows from or is consequential for, particular versions of place. This research has been published in the British Journal of Social Psychology and the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Barnes, R. Losing Ground: Locational Formulations in Argumentation over New Travellers. Ph.D. Awarded December, 2000
Grants & contracts
Plymouth Community Justice Court: A Case Study of Problem Solving Interventions, Reducing Re-offending and Public Confidence. Dr. T. Auburn (PI) School of Psychology, Dr. J. Annison & Dr. D. Gilling, Plymouth Law School, Dr. G. Hanley Santos, Research Fellow. ESRC, August 2012 to August, 2014.
Evaluation of a Magistrates' Court-based Community Advice and Support Service. Funded by Prison Advice and Care Trust, October, 2006 to September, 2007
Key publications are highlightedJournals
Other academic activities
Aspects of community justice