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Liverpool Hope University

UOA 44 - Psychology

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

1.    Research Environment


Liverpool Hope University is an ecumenical higher education institution founded in the mid-nineteenth century. It received university status in 2005 as part of a strategic repositioning; research now occupies a central place in the corporate framework and vision.


1.1 Research Structure


The Psychology Department at Liverpool Hope University is part of the Deanery of Sciences and Social Sciences. It consists of 18 members of staff, 14 of them working full time and 5 working part time. Eleven hold a PhD, seven are currently working towards a PhD or doctorate. In the period from 2001 to 2007 four members of staff have completed their PhDs. In addition, psychological research is performed in the Sports Department which belongs to the same Deanery.


Collaboration within the team is organized around research projects. Main research activities are in the areas of Cognitive Psychology, Parapsychology, Political Psychology, and Sport Psychology. Research groupings allow for the targeting of resources; the strategic articulation of development plans; the mentoring of more junior staff; and provides a focus for the recruitment of research students. 


1.1.1        Cognitive Research

Cognitive research is an expanding area at Liverpool Hope University. It has been built up since RAE 2001 mainly by the appointment of staff in the early stages of their career. The development was boosted by the appointment of Dr. Michael Ziessler as Professor for Cognitive Psychology in September 2006. He brought in his experience from working at Humboldt University Berlin, the Academy of Sciences (both Germany) and at the University of Sunderland (UK). Sue Aitken became a Lecturer in 1999. She is working on the completion of her PhD. Dr. Lorna Bourke was appointed as Senior Lecturer after completing her PhD in 2003. Dr. Simon Davies joined the Psychology team in 2003 and completed his PhD at Lancaster University in 2005. Jane McCagh was appointed as Lecturer in spring 2007. She is expected to complete her PhD at Liverpool John Moores University this year. An important step in the further improvement of the research profile is the recent appointment of Dr. Galina Paramei as Senior Lecturer. She has a first degree and a PhD from the Moscow State University, worked for a number of years at different German universities and acquired her Habilitation there in 2003.


Research topics are visual attention, feature binding, colour perception, perception of emotional facial expressions, implicit and explicit sequence learning, motor control, the function of working memory in the development of reading and writing, and social cognition in clinical samples.



Simon Davies is investigating attention control using inattentional blindness and change blindness paradigms. Michael Ziessler’s research seeks to clarify the differentiation between object-based and space based control of attention. Galina Paramei found that the phenomenon of inhibition of return depends on visual chromatic properties.


Feature binding

Feature binding is investigated by Sue Aitken and Simon Davies. Whereas Sue Aitken is mainly interested in the formation of visual short-term and long-term representations of visual feature conjunctions, Simon Davies investigates intra-modal and cross-modal feature binding. Earlier experiments were directed to the problem of perceptual completion of partially occluded objects. Moreover, Simon Davies analysed the role of perception and visual short-term memory in the development of object-based representations (published in Memory & Cognition).


Colour perception and cognition

Galina Paramei investigates in collaboration with David Bimler (Wellington) and Chingis Izmailov (Moscow) changes in colour appearance due to variation in spatial contrast (published in Visual Neuroscience).  Her research also includes the investigation of effects of neurotoxic substances on colour discrimination. Other work addresses issues of colour cognition, in particular cross-cultural differences in colour categorisation and colour naming. Within this framework Galina Parmamei co-edited the book Anthropology of Color.


Perception of emotional facial expressions

Galina Paramei investigates cognitive mechanisms of decoding of facial expressions of emotion in collaboration with David Bimler (Wellington). The main findings indicate quantitative relationships between certain measures of facial interface and affective contents read out from the face (published in Spanish Journal of Psychology).


Implicit and explicit sequence learning

Sequence learning is one of the main research areas of Michael Ziessler. Experiments performed in collaboration with Dieter Nattkemper (Berlin) show that implicit sequence learning is mainly based on response-effect learning, i.e. participants learn to anticipate the next stimulus as the effect of the previous response (published in JEP:LMC). An application of this theoretical approach to a neuropsychological population was achieved in collaboration with Katja Werheid (Max-Planck Institute Leipzig) (published in Brain and Behaviour). New projects in collaboration with Axel Cleeremanns (Brussels), Peter Dominey (Lyon), Luiz Jimenez and Willem Verwey (Enschede) are aimed to investigate the generalizability of these findings for explicit sequence learning  and the impact of effect structures on the structuring of action sequences.


Motor control

Michael Ziessler focuses on the particular role of response-effects in motor control. Experiments have shown that the anticipation of response effects is integrated in the programming of responses even if the effects are actually irrelevant for the task. This research is performed in collaboration with Dieter Nattkemper and Peter Frensch (Berlin) and is partly funded by the German Research Foundation (publications in Attention & Performance and Psychological Research).


Working memory in reading and writing

Lorna Bourke is concerned with the role of the working memory in the development of reading and writing. She is looking into the contribution of working memory to scholastic achievement (published in Educational and Child Psychology). Furthermore she is investigating the cognitive underpinning of dyslexia in collaboration with A.-M. Adams (Liverpool JMU). As a research student, Samantha Crewe investigates working memory, phonological awareness and reading acquisition (supervised by Lorna Bourke).


Social Cognition in clinical samples

Jane McCagh is investigating theory of mind skills, social conditional reasoning and social problem solving in patients with focal epilepsy in the framework of her PhD.


1.1.2. Parapsychological Research


Researchers working in Parapsychology are Diane Dutton, Christine Simmonds-Moore, Matthew Smith and Carl Williams. Dr. Diane Dutton and Dr. Carl Williams are Senior Lecturers in Psychology. Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007. Between 2003 and 2005, she spent a 2 year research sabbatical at the Rhine Research Center, Durham North Carolina. Dr. Matthew Smith became Associate Professor in 2005.


Research focuses on altered states of consciousness, experimenter effects and the concept of subtle energy in parapsychology and oriental medicine.


Altered States of Consciousness

Matthew Smith and Christine Simmonds-Moore are exploring people’s anomalous experiences in altered states of consciousness using the Ganzfeld procedure. Studies are investigating if and how a person under sensory isolated conditions might be able to pick up another person’s thoughts even if the usual methods of communication are ruled out. Christine Simmonds-Moore is particularly interested in the relationship between the experience of extra-sensory perception and personality (publications in Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of the Society of Psychical Research). Matthew Smith is exploring the role of the experimenters in such studies (publications in Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of Consciousness Studies). He has also examined the relationship between personality variables and the extent to which people report anomalous experiences in altered states of consciousness (publication in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease).


Energy concept in parapsychology

Diane Dutton and Carl Williams investigate the energy concept in parapsychology and in oriental medicine. Their work is based on the contextual metaphor theory (Publications in Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research and European Journal of Oriental Medicine).


1.1.3 Political Psychology

 An important event for the research in political psychology was the official opening of the Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in June 2007. The centre coordinates the research on war and peace within the university. The director of the centre is Dr. Neil Ferguson. He is a member of the psychology team and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005. Eve Binks became a full time member of psychology staff in 2005 and is currently working on the completion of her PhD under supervision of Neil Ferguson. As a research student Sanjeevani Perera contributes to research in political psychology.


Neil Ferguson analyses moral development, the impact of political violence on children, adolescents and adults, peace building and challenging violence. Current research projects include a cross-cultural project exploring the impact of political violence on moral reasoning, an exploration of the meaning of victimhood in Northern Ireland, a study of why and how civilians join and leave paramilitary groups, the exploration of identity, forgiveness, resistance, conceptions of war and peace, satisfaction with the peace process and solutions to the conflict (publications in Journal of Social Psychology, Political Psychology, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Journal of Moral Education). Sanjeevani Perera works on these topics under Neil Ferguson’s supervision.


Eve Binks focuses on the function of religious beliefs and their interaction with social psychological variables in social conflicts. In particular she investigates the role of religious beliefs and practices in Irish people living in England in comparison to those living in Ireland (published in Irish Journal of Psychology, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology). Research interests beyond the PhD are related to the coping mechanisms after the experience of violence and the role of religion in coping with violence.


1.1.4. Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology (located in the Sport Department) took a major step forward by the appointments of Dr. Nadja Schott as Associate Professor for Sport Psychology and Dr. Ernst Hossner as Professor for Movement Sciences in 2007. Nadja Schott has experience from working in sport psychology groups in Germany and in the USA. Ernst Hossner was working in sport psychology at different German universities. Other researchers in sport psychology are Matt Thombs, Simon Kawycz and Edd Pitt. 


Motivation and achievement

Thombs' main research interest is the psychological recovery of injured athletes; Simon Kawycz explores the social and psychological support preferences of elite athletes; Edd Pitt analyses the motivational states of elite level athletes.


Motor learning and motor control

Nadja Schott investigates the development of cognitive and motor performance over lifespan. The research with children focuses on children with Developmental Coordination Disorders. It aims to describe the phenomenology, identify reasons for the disorder and eventually develop intervention programmes. The research with elderly people is mainly concentrated on their fear of falling and the development of prevention programmes. She proposes a special approach to prevention based on motor imagery. Related to that, she is investigating the effects of aging on the neural correlates of motor imagery (publications in International Journal of Sport Psychology, Zeitschrift für Sportpsychologie, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport). Ernst Hossner’s research builds on findings from cognitive psychology on motor control and motor learning. He extends these findings from the experimental settings to more complex movements in sport. This includes the investigation of sequential movements, of perceptual, spatial and temporal features affecting the control of attention, and of implicit learning mechanisms (published in Enzyklopädie der Psychologie, Handbuch Sportpsychologie).



1.2. Research Students

Currently six research students are supervised within the Department of Psychology. Under supervision of Neil Ferguson, Eve Binks explores the Psychosocial Dimensions of the Irish Diaspora. Sanjeevani Perera is investigating the relationship between social identity and moral development in societies of conflict. Ross McGarry is exploring ‘victimhood’ among British soldiers returning from Iraq/Afganistan and is funded by the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Trust. Keith Sargent is focusing on peace building in post-conflict states and is part-funded by the W. F. Southall Trust. Samantha Crewe works in the field of reading acquisition. Fiona Campbell studies the impact of social variables on anomalous experiences.. Finally, Steven Parsons works on extrasensory perception under supervision of Christine Simmonds-Moore. Research assistants have been supervised during the evaluation period by Matthew Smith, Neil Ferguson and Lorna Bourke.


Postgraduate degrees have been awarded through The University of Liverpool; Hope has now applied for Research Degree Awarding Powers. Students are recruited to selected areas of research strength and all supervisors receive formal training and staff development. The university offers a module programme for research skills training based on the required research competencies set out by the Joint Research Councils of the UK, comprising institutional, Deanery and subject specific skills workshops. All students are required to present papers to peers and staff in research seminars. Common room and computing facilities are available in the Research and Graduate Centre, as well as bookable study spaces. This building also hosts the institution's Research Office and provides offices for visiting and associate research staff; it  includes seminars rooms with priority use for research seminars, conferences and postgraduate teaching.


1.3. Research Income


The table lists the grants attracted within the evaluation period broken down by source of funding. Some of these grants are/were held with other UK institutions.



Source of funding




British Academy



Former Loyalist Paramilitary Members’ Perspectives of their Involvement in Past Violence and of the Current Peace in Northern Ireland: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis




Funding of conference visit: 29th  Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology




Funding of conference visit: 30th  Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology

Allan & Nesta Feruson Charitable Trust



To finance a Research Studentship in War and Peace Studies.


W. F. Southall Trust



To part-finance a Research Studentship in War and Peace Studies

Society for Psychical Research



Investigation of state-trait interactions in the ganzfeld procedure.




Immersive Extra-Sensory Perception

Perrott-Warrick Fund



Gender role, boundaries and Extra-Sensory perception


2001 - 2002


Experimenter effects and replication in parapsychology

Bial Foundation

2003 - 2004



Experimenter effects and psi performance using a digital autoganzfeld system


2001 - 2002



Developing a digital autoganzfeld





Development of a new cognitive paradigm for testing





Perception of weak signals in noise and paranormal belief


2005 - 2007



Extra-Sensory perception in a virtual reality environment


2007 - 2008


A review and analysis of conceptual frameworks in accounts of animal psi

Leverhulme Trust

2005 - 2006


Deconstruction of offender profiles







1.4. Research Culture and Management


Institutionally, research is the responsibility of Research Committee, chaired by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), reporting directly to Senate. All research is managed in accordance with the Research and Scholarship Plan (2006-10); each Deanery articulates its own strategy within the parameters of this, and the Dean oversees and monitors research within his or her areas a part of annual monitoring processes. Research in Psychology is led by Ziessler. A variety of mechanisms support and promote the research environment.


Research time

It is a strategy of the Deanery of Sciences and Social Sciences to maximise the time available for research activities. Part of this strategy is it to allocate dedicated time for research to each member of staff. Meetings outside the teaching period are held to a minimum.


A formal designation of 'recognized researcher' (through application) entitles staff to: additional research leave allowance within workload models above the contracted minimum; priority access to research funds; and managed distribution of duties to free up research time. Entrants in this submission benefit from this policy.


Research seminars

To foster internal and external collaborations, to stimulate the development of ideas and to obtain advice and critical input, the Psychology Department runs a weekly Research Seminar including internal and external speakers. For example, the 2006-07 programme consisted of 18 Research seminars. There were five talks by internal speakers. The 13 external speakers came from University of Liverpool, Aston University, University of Lancashire, University of Staffordshire, University of Wales Aberystwyth, University of Wales Swansea, Humboldt University Berlin/ Germany and RWTH Aachen/ Germany. The seminars were open for students at the 3rd year level. In addition the Centre for War and Peace studies organises regular seminars and civic lectures.



The department has six dedicated research laboratories. The observation lab and the associated operator room were completely refurbished in 2007. The perception lab was equipped with a new eye tracking system (EyeLink 2000 from SR research) in May, 2007. At the same time new computers and fast monitors were purchased to improve the equipment for experimental research. In addition to the perception lab, three quiet, small rooms are available for computer-based experiments. Computers are equipped with E-Prime software. A 5- license package was acquired in November 2006. For experiments allowing group sessions, three computer labs with up to 20 computers can be booked. Recruitment of participants and administration of students’ research participation is supported by the SONA software system.


The Sheppard-Worlock Library provides access to a wide range of print and electronic information sources including subject-specific data sets, electronic books, journals and researching tools. Staff and research students have access and borrowing rights at other regional libraries through the Sconul Access scheme (eg The University of Liverpool; the John Rylands University, Manchester). The Deanery has Subject Librarians who can provide one to one support for staff and students.


Support staff

The research environment is supported by two full-time technicians responsible for the computer equipment of the department and the technical equipment in the teaching and research labs. Moreover, they manage booking of the research facilities and supervise the SONA system for the management of the research participant pool.


Financial support

The University provides financial support for research and travel. Funding is available for small research projects in preparation of bigger grant applications to external funding bodies. Single researchers can apply for up to £1000. Group projects can be funded with up to £5000. Fellowships are another way to support research. The University awards about five fellowships each year based on a project proposal. At least one of these fellowships is reserved for young researchers to support their academic development. Over the last two years three members of the Psychology Department have held a fellowship (Eve Binks, Neil Ferguson, Simon Davies). Funding for conference visits is available on application to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research. A major condition for funding is that the applicant will make a conference contribution that is likely to lead to a recognised research publication.


 1.5. Staffing Policy


It is the policy of the University to make specific appointments in key areas of research. A major achievement has been the establishment of a cognitive research group which will be further developed with future appointments. A developed cognitive research group will support the integration of the different research areas in Psychology and it will provide increased opportunities for collaborations with other departments (e.g. Sports, Health, Education).

Promotion routes are available for existing staff; biennially, there are open invitations to apply for Associate Professorship or Professorship status (Grades 9 and 10 respectively). Staff development to support such applications is available.

In terms of staff development, the Deanery aims to improve the research skills by offering workshops on manuscript-writing skills, grant-writing skills, conference development, and on embedding research in teaching. This will in particular support the development of colleagues new to research and help them to increase their research productivity. All junior researchers have formal mentors, facilitated through the research group structure.


Research activity is formally managed and monitored through annual staff performance reviews, including review of past performance, the setting of targets, and identification of areas for staff development.



1.6. Research strategy


The research strategy for the period after the RAE 2008 aims to expand and improve the laboratory facilities, to improve the coherence of research in psychology, to develop a cross-deanery research project and to expand the national and international collaboration.


Expansion of laboratory facilities

A major goal for the next five years is the improvement and expansion of the laboratory facilities for experimental research as the research base grows. The planned erection of a new building for the Deanery within that period will bring the opportunity to create functional rooms for experimental research including a number of sound-proofed booths and an EEG-lab. The purchase of EEG equipment is planned for 2008/09. As an interim solution, space for experimental research will be made available, with the move of the Psychology Department to another building in 2008.


Improvement of the coherence of research in the department

The coherence of research will improve with the further development of the cognitive research group supported by the staffing policy. From a theoretical point of view, cognitive research will focus on the perception-action interaction and try to explain cognitive processes from the requirements of action control. This approach can be extended to applied areas such as cognitive ergonomics, work psychology, sport psychology and social psychology.


Development of a Deanery research project

To facilitate and stimulate research and to bundle the available resources, the Deanery aims to develop a cross-deanery research project to which the different departments of the Deanery will contribute. For example, topics such as “The ageing society”, “Protection of the environment” or “New technologies and their effects on human life” have the potential to integrate work from Psychology, Sociology, Health, Sports and Geography, which are all located within the Deanery. Moreover, this will involve departments from other deaneries such as Education, Business and Computing. The embedding of research in a wider research project will improve the opportunities for extramural funding.


Expansion of national and international collaboration

The Psychology Department will further extend its national and international collaborations to inspire and facilitate its research. Research using very expensive equipment (e.g. imaging techniques) will only be possible in collaboration with other institutions. Common grant applications together with higher rated research institutions appear to be a good strategy to improve research income. International collaborations, in particular in applied areas, create the opportunity for funding from the European Union.  



2. Esteem Indicators


Esteem indicators are listed in the following table for each member of staff submitted to the RAE.







Binks, Eve



Invited talk at The American Conference for Irish Studies (together with N. Ferguson): “Media Reactions to the IRA Statement of Regret of July 2002 in England”, University of Liverpool.




Invited talk at the 29th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology: “The Function of Religious Beliefs in Societies in Conflict: Northern Ireland.”, Barcelona/ Spain.









Ferguson, Neil



President, Moral and Social Action Interdisciplinary Colloquium. (MOSAIC)




Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Moral Education




Elected member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Political Psychology




Member of Editorial Board, Irish Journal of Psychology

Hossner, Ernst



Chair of the section for Movement Science of the German Society of Sport Science (dvs)




Elected grant reviewer for the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for the field of motor control and learning




Elected Founding Member of the Editorial Board of the E-Journal on Movement and Exercise (, official organ of the sections for Biomechanics, Movement and Exercise Science of the German Society of Sport Science (dvs)





The “Carl-Diem-Plakette” is the most recognised award in German Sport Science

Paramei, Galina



Member of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Psychophysics (tresurer)




Co-editor of the book MacLaury, R.E., Paramei, G.V. & Dedrick, D. (eds.). Anthropology of Color: Interdisciplinary Multilevel Modelling. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins




Fellowship from the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany





Invited speaker at the 18th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, New York: “Are additional criteria needed for defining “basic” color categories?”

Schott, Nadja



Co-editor of Zeitschrift fuer Sportpsychologie (Journal of Sport Psychology)




Post-Doctoral Research Scholarship (Supervisor: Denise Park) at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign




Keynote speaker at the conference of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE/CIEPSS) in Bankok/ Thailand: “The relationship between physical activity and cognition in children”



2001/ 2007

Organizer of the annual meetings of Sektion Sportmotorik der dvs (Section Motor Activity in Sport of the German Association of Sport Sciences) in Giessen/ Germany

Simmonds-Moore, Christine



Programme chair of the 49th Parapsychology Association Convention, Stockholm/ Sweden




D. Scott Rogo Award for Parapsychological Literature (Parapsychology Foundation)



2003 -

Council member of the Society for Psychical Research




Invited lecture at the University of North Carolina: “Parapsychology and clinical psychology: exploring the overlaps”

Smith, Matthew


1999 - 2005

Deputy Editor of Journal of the Society for Psychical Research



2001 -

Council member for Society for Psychical Research




D. Scott Rogo Award for Parapsychological Literature (Parapsychology Foundation)




Organizer of the international conference 'Developing Perspectives on Anomalous Experience', Liverpool

Ziessler, Michael


2003/ 2004

Guest editor (in collaboration with Dieter Nattkemper, Berlin) for a special issue of Psychological Research on the Cognitive Control of Action: The role of Action Effects (Vol 68, issue 2/3, 2004)




Organisation of the symposium “Cognitive foundation of action control -  new results and speculations” at the 45th Congress of the German Society for Psychology in Nuremberg




Invited lecture at the BSI Forum, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Wako-shi/ Japan: "Action effects and their role in the control of actions"



2004/ 2006

Referee for grant applications to the British Academy