The Division of Psychology is home to a wide range of diverse and innovative research programmes.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) rated the majority (59%) of our research activity as either world leading or internationally excellent - and our research environment was rated as 100% internationally excellent. Moreover, in addition to our strong fundamental research, many of our academics are involved in knowledge transfer and translational research activities that benefit society at large – e.g. working with NHS services, charities, and patient support groups. In REF 2014 we were assessed as having an exemplary strategic approach to generating impact and 73% of our submission was rated as 4* - outstanding in terms of reach and significance in areas such as screening for dyslexia, and health promotion.
Our research is broad in scope, covering a range of topics and methodological approaches using multiple, complementary, levels of analysis. Research activities are focused within our College Research Centres:
The Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) researches brain function, behaviour and psychological processes. A group of scientists with specialism in cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology and sports/exercise psychology focuses on vision, action and plasticity. Vision includes visual attention, visual perception, face perception and visual language. Action means motor control, executive control and performance. Plasticity revolves around lifespan changes, expertise acquisition, neurodegeneration and rehabilitation.
Studies take place in the field and in the lab where we measure brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). We change brain activity with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). And we can quantify what people see and do with eye-tracking equipment, infrared thermography, as well as traditional psychophysics and behavioural experiments.
Evolution and culture are the two most fundamental and powerful influences on human behaviour, and their effects are what we study at the Centre for Culture and Evolution (CCE). Research at the CCE focuses on cultural variation in, and the evolutionary origins of, psychology and behaviour.
Research in evolutionary psychology includes morality - what is considered right and wrong about, for example, political beliefs, rules about fairness and resource distribution, sexual behaviour, and leader-follower relations. Other researchers study conflict and cooperation. This includes cooperation within and between groups, collective action, sexual conflict and intrasexual competition, social bonding and community, and sources of social conflict such as inequality.
Cross-cultural psychology is the study of cultural influences on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Have you encountered a situation where people from different cultures think and behave very differently from the way you do? Or have you ever been surprised to see someone from remote places thinking and behaving just like you do? Current projects in the CCE address cultural influences on friendships and romantic relationships, prosocial behaviour, the use of social media across cultures, and the adjustment of migrants in cultures that vary in their endorsement of multiculturalism.
Many college academics are also members of Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies.
Our research collaborations
The CCN and CCE are interdisciplinary collaborations across the College of Health and Life Sciences, but we also work with researchers across the globe including Australia, Japan and the USA.
Opportunities for postgraduate research
The Division of Psychology has a thriving and expanding community of research students, each one associated with a research centre and working as part of a successful team.
You are very welcome to undertake your PhD or MPhil in one of our research areas and work alongside our researchers. As a research student you'll benefit from the latest work by internationally-renowned academics and the support of our Graduate School. Many of our research initiatives involve successful collaborations with industry, the public sector, business and government, both in the UK and overseas. We have many funded and non-funded research degree opportunities available. For more information, visit our Research Degrees homepage.