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Postgraduate research topics

Postgraduate students at the School of Psychology have many research areas to choose from. The topics listed below can be used as a guide to determine potential supervisors.

Proposed honours and masters topics

Below is a list of potential bachelor (honours) and masters projects for 2018. Please note the list is only indicative of staff that may be taking on research students and projects that may be available in 2018; it is not intended to be definitive nor exhaustive, but simply a resource for prospective students. Students are still welcome to refer to the handbook and contact other prospective supervisors with relevant research interests.

If you are interested in one of the topics listed below, please contact the staff directly to discuss possible research topics or check the staff member’s webpage for more information on research interests and publications.



Honours Students Research Options for 2019



Supervisor surname

Supervisor First name

Proposed Projects on offer in 2019 (subject to change)

Any additional requirements





Possible Research Options:

1. The foundations of human political ideology: Anyone who has debated politics over the dinner table knows that political opinions can vary widely, even within one family. But what is it that determines our views on taxation and welfare, military spending and climate change, abortion and gay marriage, and why do opinions about these seemingly disparate aspects of our social lives coalesce the way they do? This project will use survey and experimental data to identify the underlying psychological mechanisms that shape the human political landscape. This project will require and further develop good critical thinking, experimental design and quantitative skills. An interest in human evolution is preferred.

2. Can religion help us save the planet: Opinions differ regarding the extent to which religiosity promotes or suppresses concern about the environment. The ‘religious right’ in the US is notoriously blasé about the threat of climate change. Conversely, Pope Francis has put the moral weight of the Catholic church behind climate action. However, the potential for religion to help motivate environmental concern remains understudied. This project will review research in the area and design experiments to test predictions regarding how the psychology underlying religion could be used to motivate environmental action. The project will require and further develop good critical thinking, experimental design and quantitative skills. An interest in human evolution is preferred.







Topics will be in the area of bilingualism.  Possibilities would include but are not limited to

 a) language, attitudes and identity (e.g. 1.5 groups such as Koreans or Chinese or

 b) Language maintenance and shift in a multilingual community in NZ. 

Students must have taken Psych 313.

Students who have an interest in a topic in bilingualism should email Elaine at






Topics in the cognitive neuroscience of visual perception and attention. Possible projects include:

1. Electrophysiology of target selection and distractor suppression in visual search. The project will explore the neural generators and functional significance of several lateralized ERP components that have been associated with the visual target selection and maintenance, and distractor suppression.

2. Competition for representation in the human visual system. The project will use event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and behavioural data (response times and accuracy) to explore the conditions under which visual stimuli compete for representation in the brain. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a technique for studying the functional architecture of the visual system.

3. Modelling the human face.  The project will involve developing realistic computer-graphics models of the human face and facial expression.  The long-term goal is to generate a highly configurable simulation of the face for use in psychological research.

4. The interaction between facial expression of emotion and selective attention.  The project will use ERP and behavioural measures of performance to examine the influence of emotional stimuli – pictures or movies of facial expressions – on the allocation of spatial attention. 

Interested students should contact me to discuss requirements for this project. Some experience with elementary computer programming and/or data analysis would be helpful, but is not a strict requirement





Topics relate to understanding how the choices we make depend on our recent past experience with behaviours and their consequences, and on our perception of consequences that are likely to occur in the future. Possible projects may include:
  1. Experiments investigating the fundamental building blocks of predicting and planning for rewards and punishers in the future, using pigeons. Some of this work may also involve experiments with humans and translation to applied settings.
  2. Experiments investigating neural processes underlying altruistic, risky, or uncertain decision-making.
  3. Research relating to the development and/or application of an intervention aimed at reducing internet use to healthy levels.

Interested students should contact me to discuss projects. Students will need to be available to assist with running of the lab and/or experiments. Students working with basic animal research or translation of these findings should take PSYCH759.





On-going research in the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Research Unit. Probably investigating choice in pigeon subjects, but there is also some possibility of a project on stimulus equivalence with human participants.

Must take PSYCH 711, and must make contact with me in advance.

Must be available for 2 hours 1-2 days/week throughout the year to help run lab experiments.


  Erb Chris

Dr. Erb’s research uses a technique known as reach tracking to investigate how processes across perception, cognition, and action are reflected in participants’ hand movements as they perform computerized tasks by reaching to touch response targets on a digital display. His research explores a range of age groups (children, adolescents, young adults, and older adults) and topics in psychology, including:

Cognitive Control: Human beings exhibit a remarkable capacity to control their thoughts and actions. Developmental and individual differences in this capacity have been linked to a wide range of important outcomes, including emotion regulation, academic performance, physical health, and success in the workplace. What are the key cognitive processes that underlie this capacity? How do these processes develop across the lifespan and differ between individuals? This line of research explores these questions by measuring participants’ hand movements as they perform computerized tasks designed to target different aspects of cognitive control, including inhibitory control (the ability to suppress or override an impulsive response) and switching (the ability to flexibly shift between different tasks).

Numerical Cognition: A longstanding question in the numerical cognition literature concerns the extent to which our bodies shape and reflect how we represent and reason about numbers. This set of projects uses reach tracking to explore how children’s numerical cognition is reflected in their unfolding hand movements as they perform various mathematical tasks (e.g., identifying whether a number is smaller or larger than 5). This approach enables us to evaluate how children link their understanding of numerical relations to their understanding of spatial relations at different points in development.

Attention and Distraction in Visually Guided Action: In order to behave adaptively, we must be able to focus our attention on relevant objects and events in our environment. This can be especially difficult in situations that feature salient distractions. This line of research explores how the ability to focus visual attention develops between childhood and adulthood by using visual search tasks that require participants to locate a target among distractors that vary along different dimensions (e.g., shape or colour).

Each of these projects will enable students to further develop their statistical and experimental design skills while also gaining familiarity with an exciting new behavioural research technique. Students particularly interested in development, embodied cognition, cognitive neuroscience, or computational modelling are especially encouraged to apply.


Working with children and families requires having a flexible schedule, given that much of our data collection takes place during the evening or on the weekend. Community outreach is also an important component of recruiting and connecting with families. Students interested in working with children will therefore be asked to help with data collection and community outreach on some evenings and weekends. Students will also be expected to attend weekly lab meetings for one hour. Please feel free to contact Dr. Erb ( if you have any questions.






My research interests are in community and liberation psychology, Indigenous worldviews and communities, resilience,  the global self, poverty and wellbeing. My primary area of interest is homelessness, the sharp edge of poverty. I also explore the relevance and application of Māori and other Indigenous cultural concepts for understanding contemporary relationships and peoples’ efforts to cultivate a positive sense of self and place. In particular my research is action-oriented where not only does theory and research inform practice, but practice also shapes the refinement of theory and research.

It is recommended that you take PSYCH 717. Interested students should contact Dr Groot to discuss the details of the project.





Comparing Endogenous and Exogenous attention.

1) We can choose to pay attention to a location in space, such as by paying attention to our left or right based upon the colour of a fixation cross (i.e. blue means attend left).  In addition, our attention can be automatically drawn to a location, such as by a brief flash in our peripheral vision.  It has been argued that these two forms of shifting our attention might be shifting the same or different kinds of attention.  Attention can be quantified by looking at how much faster we respond to targets in the attended location compared to targets that appear in a non-attended location.  So, if our voluntary shifts and the automatic capture are working on the same attention, then someone who shows a large difference in one condition should show a large difference in the other as well.  If, however, different and unrelated forms of attention are being shifted, then there is no reason to assume having a large difference in one case tells us anything about the size of the difference in the other.  Using this individual difference approach, we will examine whether or not the evidence suggests that the same attention is being directed by colour changes and peripheral flashes.

Illusory Line Motion:

1) If a bar is presented between two boxes, and one of the boxes flashes, when the bar is removed it appears to shoot away from the flashed box.  However, if the bar is removed during the flash, it appears to shoot into the box.  Previous research has determined that these two illusions arise for different reasons and are unrelated to each other.  Another way to create an illusion of motion is to present two differently coloured boxes (say, red and green) and when the bar appears, it will shoot out of the box that matches the bar in colour (a red bar out of the red box).  While the illusion away from the flash and these colour illusions are unrelated to each other, it is unknown if the illusion towards the flash is related to the colour based one.  Determining this will be the focus of the current project.

2) If a bar appears between two boxes after one of the boxes flashes, the bar will appear to shoot out of the flashed box.  One explanation for this illusion is that our attention has been drawn to the box and speeds our detection of that end of the bar, so it appears to come on first, just like a real bar in motion.  Others have suggested that the flash sets up low level visual features that result in the stimulus display that produce the illusion and that attention has nothing to do with it.  Attention can also be attracted by shifting a box up and down slightly.  This should not result in the same low level visual features, and therefore, if the illusion continues to arise it would be more consistent with the attention explanation, but if the illusion does not occur, it would be more consistent with a low level, non-attention based, explanation.

Students should be comfortable with statistical analysis and having completed PSYCH 201 and/or PSYCH 303 would be a benefit. Those interested should contact Dr. Hamm to discuss the project.





·         Further part of a qualitative study of special school staff on their perceptions of vulnerability in the children they teach. Data existing.

  • Investigating the effectiveness of interprofessional sessions between interpreters and speech language therapy students on the complexity of interpreted sessions. Data existing
  • The complexities of learning and maintaining language through sign in a hearing world.
  • Any project on children and communication difficulties, including youth justice areas, would be considered.

It is advisable, but not essential, to have taken PSYCH 313.

Please email me if you want to discuss the proposed projects

 I’m based at Tamaki.





Two projects are on offer for 2019, both of which involve working in community settings and learning case-study methodology.

  1. What matters most to people? How can we keep people’s deepest values in play? Students are invited to join a research project that investigates people’s intrinsic and extrinsic values and what it means to engage in values-based practice. This project will include a series of community hui during which people discuss and share their values and experiences of putting these into action.
  2. What makes a sustainable school? Complexity theory suggests that systems emerge from the interplay of various attractors. This project will involve case-study research with members of a school that is on a ‘sustainability journey’. It will investigate the factors that have facilitated and impeded the school’s sustainability progress and will attempt to tease out the key elements in creating a sustainable school.


Students must enrol in Psych 715.






There are three major  projects (below) and several other minor projects (bottom) in which to undertake a PhD or Masters thesis, an Honours Dissertation, or a Stage 3 research project (Directed Study).

Satiation and the Textural Complexity of Foods

Would a texturally complicated food be more filling than the same food eaten as a puree? There are many factors contributing to the obesity epidemic; one small part of the puzzle is that people are simply eating too much. The role of satiation (the cascade of signals that ends an eating episode) is fraught with contradictory opinions. Of the many factors contributing to satiation, evidence suggests longer oral processing time plays an important role. However, in these studies longer times are frequently created by modifying food texture. Texture itself contributes independently to satiation via the sequence of sensations experienced during chewing. It would seem that the component of texture of important is its ‘complexity’. I have a project that is seeking to define, quantify, and measure textural complexity. This research is linked directly into my broader programme of research on satiation.

Hedonics, Satisfaction, and Preference Testing

Preference is not an intrinsic or measurable property of stimuli. It is a psychological dimension generated from the interactions between perceptions, memories, and internal psychological states. Preference influences choice, so the ability to quantify preference is essential to a scientific understanding of human behaviour. Measurement of preference is currently based on an analysis of the responses given by a group; for example, 80% prefer X over Y. This is an inadequate measure because percentage preference does not indicate the magnitude of preference; 80% may prefer X over Y, but the magnitude of their preference may be small, or large; X may even be the least disliked option. Also, percentage preference is contaminated by response bias and other factors. For example, when presented with two identical stimuli, typically around 40% of judges will have a preference for one over the other; yet this selection can only be based on extraneous factors such as response bias. My current research is investigating approaches to the assessment of satisfaction and preference, in different sensory modalities, that overcome the limitations outlined above.

Modelling of Performance in Sensory Tasks

When an assessment of sensory (or other) performance is undertaken, the most desirable outcome would be to produce a measure of performance that is independent of both the task and the response bias of the individual. Signal Detection Theory (SDT) presents an approach to accomplish this by specifying separate measures of response bias and performance. In theory (but not quite in practice) SDT will provide the same estimate of performance for the same stimuli judged in different tasks. This is certainly not true of commonly used methods of performance, such as the proportion of correct judgements. My research has involved developing and evaluating SDT-based models for tasks such as the same-different task and the matching-to-sample task.

Other Projects in Experimental Psychology

I also have several projects underway in psychophysical research. These projects involve various aspects of model building, further improvement of advanced psychophysical techniques, and computer programming projects to design tools for psychophysical analysis. These projects are focussed on the auditory, gustatory, or olfactory sensory modalities.






Annette has a range of research programmes studying social and cognitive development across early childhood (0 – 6 years of age). Examples (but not limited to) include:

Cooperation in early childhood: Cooperative activities pervade our everyday lives. Given how essential cooperation is to human groups, it is not surprising that infants learn to cooperate within the first two years of their lives. However, little is known about the factors that influence the development of cooperative competence in early childhood. This project will involve being a part of a longitudinal study looking at the emergence of cooperation across the first two years of life. Questions the project might address are: Does previous cooperative experience influence later cooperative ability? Is there a relationship between socio-cognitive skills such as imitation and joint attention influence infants' cooperative understanding and ability? What demographic factors influence infants' cooperative ability? Are infants who are good cooperators also good helpers? How does parenting shape early cooperative and prosocial behaviours? The specific question in this topic to be addressed in the honours thesis will be determined once the student has been matched to Annette. 

Cooperation in early parent-infant interactions: Infants engage in cooperative interactions with their caregivers from the moment they are born. The goal of this project is to identify the aspects of early cooperative interactions, such as peek-a-boo, that generalise across infant-caregiver dyads across the first two years of life. Questions the project might address are: How does the structure of cooperative interactions, such as peek-a-boo, change as infants age? How do these strategies differ across parent-infant dyads? How do parents teach their infants words at the earliest stages of development? Do parents respond to an AI baby in similar ways as to how they respond to their own baby?  Can we build models of early parent-infant interactions? These are just a few questions that could be examined by the student working on this project. The specific question in this topic to be addressed in the honours thesis will be determined once the student has been matched to Annette.

Relevance and selective learning in early childhood: Words are effective communicative tools when their meanings are shared by members within a linguistic group. This fact about language becomes strikingly clear when you visit a foreign country and are unable to communicate with the population because you do not share knowledge of the meanings of their words. We study when infants understand the shared nature of word meanings and how this understanding shapes older children's word learning. Students working in this domain may work on either looking at infants' expectations surrounding the shared nature of words or how information about the relevance of a new word influences preschoolers' word learning.    

It is recommended that students have taken PSYCH 326.

Students must take PSYCH 722 (Human Learning and Development), PSYCH 744, and must be available for group meetings one afternoon a week.

Honours students will learn how to help with recruitment and data collection for studies with infants and young children. Many of our families work during the week and thus, these studies are often run on the weekends. As such, students will be asked to help with studies and recruiting outside of regular university hours for some evenings and/or weekends throughout their programme.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these requirements,




 The sense of touch is the oldest of our senses, the first to ignite and the last to be extinguished.  Students in my lab investigate questions as to how the skin is involved in perception, how the fingerpads can learn to read, how the hands are organs for both sensing and doing.  I would love to work with students who are intrigued by questions related to perception, knowing and doing by touch.  Our recent work involves braille reading, texture perception and how the skin codes number and density. Students will acquire new skills in experimental design, research methods, data acquisition (behavioural and perhaps EEG) and analysis, working at the cutting edge of research into this important sensory modality.

Students should be enrolled in PSYCH 746.

Students who are potentially interested in this area should contact me to discuss.




Learning by watching: we want to understand what students learn from watching their peers as part of their clinical practicum. A deeper understanding of their experiences will enhance curriculum design to maximize these opportunities. You’ll be interviewing SLT students about their experiences of clinical placements.

Ideally you should have done PSYCH313 and a qualitative research methods course and have an interest in healthcare or teaching. Please talk to me personally to express your interest. 




My research focuses on organizational psychology in general and occupational health psychology in particular. My overarching research question is: How and why various work stressors might impact employees.

Examples of research topics that students could work on include:

  • How job insecurity impacts one’s proactive behaviours in the workplace?
  • How organizational constraints influences one’s voice behaviours in the organizational setting?
  • How workplace incivility/bullying/harassment influences one’s turnover intentions?
  • Why abusive leadership might be detrimental to employee work engagement?
  • Why financial inadequacy might be negatively related to employee psychological well-being?
  • Why interpersonal conflict in the workplace might increase employee burnout?

It is strongly recommended that students take PSYCH 761-Organizational Psychology and PSYCH 737-Work and Wellbeing.





I am happy to supervise Honours projects investigating visual attention, eye movements and perception. Specific topics could include:

·         Attention, eye movements & conscious awareness

·         Effects of ageing on vision for action and accident proneness

·         Emotional responses to visual images

·         Eye movements and visual art

·         Dual stream models of vision and mechanisms of attention shifting




Le Grice


Jade’s research programme explores the intersections of Indigeneity, gender, and youth through domains of reproductive decision-making, sexuality education, abortion, sexual violence, and whānau. Theorising the connective tissue between lived experience, psychosocial and sociocultural contexts, knowledge, policy and practice – research projects are designed to highlight invisibilised issues, have community relevance, and address areas of social injustice.

2019 honours projects will explore rangatahi wāhine Māori (young Māori women), rangatahi tāne Māori (young Māori men), kaumātua (knowledgeable elders), or key stakeholders’ talk about relationships, sexual ethics, and sexual violence prevention.

Familiarity with Kaupapa Māori, Mana Wahine and/or Critical psychology through the study of PSYCH320 and/or PSYCH319 is advised. Honours students are strongly advised to take postgraduate papers taught by members of the Psychology and Social Issues groups PSYCH717, 726, 733 and 755).





Human brain mapping using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

It is recommended that you either take PSYCH 736 and/or have experience in MRI data analysis.

Please e-mail me to discuss the details of a potential project (




My research focuses on the ethnic identity and wellbeing of Pacific peoples in NZ. Specific areas of focus and potential Honours topics include:

1.       The effects of discrimination on mental and physical health.

2.       Pacific health beliefs.

3.       Discrimination and community engagement.

4.       Pacific religiosity, spirituality and wellbeing.

It is recommended students have taken PSYCH 320 and/or PSYCH 311.

Students that have an interest in Pacific-oriented research can email Sam on

It is recommended the students enrol in PSYCH 758.




Qualitative study examining participation in a gavel club for people with aphasia

It is advisable to have taken PSYCH 313. Please email me if you want to discuss the proposed projects  because I’m based at Tamaki.




Training empathy using virtual patients:  speech-language therapists’ case history taking. 





Potential topics:

1. An 8-Week Physical Exercise Intervention Influences Human Long-Term Potentiation:

This project will explore the effect of physical exercise on neural plasticity, assessed via long-term potentiation. We will use EEG  to measure differences in plasticity before and after an exercise training program, in combination with physiological measures that will track exercise-induced improvements. 

2.  The effectiveness of the MovinCog program in children with neurodevelopmental disorders

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the MovinCog intervention to enhance cognitive abilities in children. We will combine EEG and behavioural data in pre-test/post-test designs to identify the effectiveness of the intervention in children.

 The project will allow the following:

- Identification of effective training protocols to enhance cognition via behavioural

procedures (non-invasive);

- Identification of the factors contributing to training effectiveness (behavioural, cognitive, neural);

- Contribution of study design (types of procedures and training content);

- Informed future interventions to remediate learning disorders.

3. Big data analysis in brain training

This project will focus on the statistical analysis and implementation of machine learning algorithms to better understand brain training data from the MovinCog Initiative. In particular, one of the goals of the project is to better predict individual responses to training, so as to offer the most effective intervention possible for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. More information about the MovinCog Initiative can be found at:





Topics broadly situated within the areas of intergroup relations and political psychology. The specific research topics may include, but are not limited to:

The effect of stereotype threat on women’s performance in maths.

Forms of system justification and their impact on people’s attitudes toward (in)equality.

The system-justifying functions of political ideology.

The impact that racial stereotypes have on people’s memory of others.

The effects of moral credentialing on people’s attitudes toward racial minorities

General topics on intergroup relations in New Zealand.

It is recommended students have taken PSYCH 204 and/or PSYCH 311. It is also strongly recommended that students take PSYCH 700 and PSYCH 744 (or related courses). All students who are interested in these (or related) topics should email Danny ( before applying to the program.





Nickola has a range of research programs focusing on close relationships and interpersonal processes. Examples of research topics that students could work on include:

identifying the communication strategies that are most effective in resolving relationship conflict and the communication dynamics that increase the risk of relationship dissolution and divorce

investigating how and when adults’ communication and emotion regulation strategies during marital conflict impact the health, wellbeing and social functioning of their children

exploring how power and sexist attitudes influence interpersonal interactions, including emotional and behavioural reactions to conflict and biased perceptions of relationship transactions

examining the impact of attachment insecurity and low self-esteem on relationship functioning, and identifying the factors that can overcome these vulnerabilities

investigating the impact of (a) different emotion regulation strategies or (b) social support in protecting psychological and physical health from the damaging effects of stressful life events

It is recommended that students have taken PSYCH 311 and PSYCH 204.

Students must take PSYCH 716 (Social Psychology and Interpersonal Processes) and must be available for group meetings and workshops one afternoon a week.

Visit the following link to learn more about Nickola’s research programs:

Visit the following link for more information about what Hons/Masters entails with Nickola:




Potential Topics 2018

Educational Psychology:

There is a popular maxim that we learn more from our failures than our mistakes, yet for many people, failure is something that is shameful and best not talked about it.  It is increasingly argued that we need to create environments in which it is safe to make a mistake, or we run the risk of people not trying, not taking innovative risks and not speaking out when things go wrong.

Possible topics in this area include:

·         How can we create safe spaces for students to make mistakes?

·         How does a student’s approach to failure relate to their help-seeking behaviour?

·         How does a person’s growth or fixed mindset relate to their attitude towards mistakes?

·         How do attitudes to mistakes and failure relate to conformity?

·         How does impostership relate to help-seeking behaviour?

·         How do patterns of emotions across an assessment period relate to achievement?

·         How does adaptability to failure and growth and fixed mindsets relate to beliefs about feedback?

Growing Up in NZ (

Growing Up in NZ (GUiNZ) is a multidisciplinary longitudinal study following approximately 6500 children. The study seeks to better understand what works for children and their families and to consider pathways of development across multiple domains of influence. Students working on GUiNZ data are expected to commit to publication of their findings. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

·         How does parental personality, parenting practices and child temperament interact to affect child behavioural outcomes?

·         What are the highlights and challenges facing parents of 2 year olds and are these different from those reported at 9 months old?

·         How does temperament and parenting interact to affect children’s weight outcomes?

·         What is the effect of antenatal alcohol exposure on temperament age 4?

·         How do infant and child temperament relate to early language development?

I recommend students take PSYCH 744 (or equivalent) and PSYCH 722. Students must also be available weekly lab meetings. 









Cortical auditory evoked potentials in adults and children with auditory processing disorder: EEG evidence for altered neural processing of speech sounds?

It is recommended but not essential that you have taken PSYCH 313.Interested students should e-mail




Dr. Roberts is looking for one or two honours students to investigate the aging brain. The project(s) will involve investigating either fMRI or EEG data from participants between the ages of 20 and 80 years old to determine how these signal change with age, and how these changes mediate age-related changes in cognitive performance”


Would suit students who have taken Psych 305

Successful students will be required to take Psych 736, Human Brain Mapping.

Interested applicants should contact Dr Roberts to discuss research projects




6-7 possible honours topics to choose from:

1. How can we measure psychological distress in New Zealand? This study will validate and provide normative data for a measure non-specific psychological distress, anxiety and rumination in the New Zealand population using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study ‘(NZAVS)’. The study will also look as specific differences across gender, age and ethnic groups in psychological distress in the New Zealand population.

2. How many New Zealanders are using facebook, and is facebook use linked to psychological outcomes? This study will analyse data from the NZAVS to look at the use of facebook in a nationally reprehensive New Zealand sample, and document trends across cohorts. The study will also examine psychological correlates and outcomes associated with facebook use in the population.

3. What do New Zealanders value? The study will look at the social values held by New Zealanders, such as values of equality, authority, tolerance, and respect for elders, using data from the NZAVS. The study will also look at possible change in the values held by New Zealanders over the last three years, and across different groups in New Zealand society.

4. What predicts identification with multiple ethnic groups? This study will look specifically at people in the NZAVS who identified with multiple ethnic groups and examine whether identification with multiple group memberships changes over time. The study will try to determine what factors might predict change in the identification with only one ethnic group, or with multiple ethnic groups, and test whether this is linked to psychological health and wellbeing in different contexts

5. Does income predict life satisfaction, and if so for whom? This study will use data from the NZAVS to examine the extent to which income is linked with various measures of subjective wellbeing and health. The study will determine at which point income reaches a point of diminishing returns in predicting subjective wellbeing. The study will also explore whether the link between income and life satisfaction holds constant for different group in society, or whether income is more strongly linked to wellbeing for some groups relative to others.

6. What predicts the wellbeing and acculturation of Asian immigrants in New Zealand? This study will use data from the NZAVS to look specifically at Asian immigrants living in New Zealand. The study will look at the factors that buffer or ameliorate the psychological health, wellbeing, and acculturative stress of Asian peoples in New Zealand society.

7. How do women’s and men’s body images differ? And do differences in body image predict difference is psychological health, rumination and eating behaviour? This study will use data from the nationally representative NZAVS dataset to look at men’s and women’s levels of satisfaction with their bodies depending on their BMI and income.       Continued

 The research will examine possible gender differences and the power of social roles in the extent to which concerns about body image predict psychological wellbeing, eating behaviour and self-esteem for people within different BMI ranges.

Required courses are PSYCH 744 and PSYCH 731. Students should come and talk to me in person to discuss the topic and details




Current research suggests that dogs are much more intelligent than we give them credit for.  For example, dogs seem much better at following human pointing gestures than chimpanzees, our closest living relative.

The Clever Canine lab at UoA ( is focused on understanding how dogs think, particularly when it comes to their owners. We hope our research will not only shed light on how social intelligence evolves, but also lead to a better understanding of dog-human social interactions. We have two honours projects available in 2018:

1. Do dogs show empathy towards their owners and other people? This project examines how dogs reacts to friendly people and those that ignore them. It also examines how dogs react when their owners and other people cry.

2. Do dogs show jealousy when their owners interact with another (toy)

dog? Jealousy is thought to be unique to humans, yet owners often report their dogs showing behaviours associated with this emotion.

This project will examine the degree to which human and dog jealousy are similar.

Recommended students have completed psych 317 and take Psych 725




Projects that relate to conceptualising and identifying protective factors against sexual reoffending.   Students would join a longitudinal study investigating what factors protect against reoffending in a sample of men convicted for sexual offending.

Understanding public attitudes towards criminal justice policies using NZ Attitudes and Values Survey (NZAVS) data.

3. An analysis of media reports of sex crimes to examine cross-country differences in how the media portrays people who have sexually offended

Students must take Psych 707 and attend research group meetings

Interested students must contact Gwen to discuss further


The following staff members are unavailable for Honours supervision in 2018/9


Donna Rose









Tippett Lynette

The following staff members are available only to students who are selected into the clinical programme













Doctoral research topics

Name Research Topic Supervisor Name
Nidhi Aggarwal Investigating the factors involved in efficient tactile perception in blind people. Barry Hughes
Aamina Ali Stressors and coping mechanisms of Muslim youth in New Zealand. Kerry Gibson
Rebecca Allenby Neuropsychological Symptom Validity in the Accident Compensation Corporation. Suzanne Barker-Collo
Sweta Anantharaman Social group dynamics in infancy: understanding the factors that contribute and/or influence social interaction which shape infants' development. Annette Henderson
Luisa Ape-Esera Understanding the needs of sexually abusive rangatahi.

A process evaluation of the SAFE Rangatahi treatment programme for Maori adolescents who engage in sexually harmful behaviour.
Ian Lambie
Areej Asad Speech profile of school-age children with hearing loss in comparison to children with normal hearing in New Zealand. Suzanne Purdy
Ursula Bach Suicide intervention training within mental health NGOs. Fred Seymour
John Bai The effects of brief stimuli on response rate and persistence. Doug Elliffe
Ashleigh Baker Cognitive and brain biomarkers in prodromal behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia: episodic memory and future thinking. Lynette Tippett
Miriam Barr Service-user experiences of discontinuing antipsychotic medication in New Zealand. Fred Seymour
Craig Barretto Callous-unemotional traits in children. Ian Lambie
Amalia Bastos The signature-testing approach to the evolution of intelligence Alex Taylor
Vikki Bland Conditioned inhibition and timeout from reinforcement. Doug Elliffe
Charlotte Blythe Lights, camera, action research: a university-school collaboration exploring the potential of photography and film production for environmental sustainability. Niki Harre
Francesca Bowden Youth absconding behaviour at the Lighthouse facilities. Ian Lambie
James Brennan Influences on the role of the stepfather in New Zealand stepfamilies. Claire Cartwright
Karl Bridges The psychology of mistaken-for-game hunting accidents. Paul Corballis
Christopher Budd Comparing actographic measures of eleven-year old childrens' physical activity and sleep quality with neuropsychological test scores and behavioural questionnaires. Karen Waldie
Ashleigh Bullot Comorbidities of autism in the area of developmental neuroscience. Karen Waldie
Octavia Calder-Dawe Pornography and inclusive sexual ethics: exploring potential for ethical engagement with pornography among young New Zealanders. Nicola Gavey
Jacinda Calkin Clinical psychologists' experiences of clients' antidepressant use. Claire Cartwright
Julia Campbell Adverse childhood experiences in sex offender population in New Zealand prisons. Fred Seymour
Oscar Canete Cortical auditory evoked potentials and behavioural measures of auditory processing in children with unilateral hearing loss due to congenital atresia. Suzanne Purdy
Nicola Chadwick An exploration of the ways in which therapists and clinical psychologists who align themselves with 'critical' perspectives talk about and account for power dynamics in therapeutic practice. Nicola Gavey
Valerie Chang Biased memories and depressive symptoms in interpersonal relationships. Nickola Overall
Nilima Chowdhury Depression as social pathology. Kerry Gibson
Ties Coomber The effects of economic rules and cultural narratives on the relationships between sense of community, cooperative behaviour and experience of cooperation. Niki Harre
Ondria Cowan New Zealanders' experiences of long-term antidepressant use. Claire Cartwright
Andrea Crawford The effects of executive functioning and social cognition impairments on adaptive behaviours in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Lynette Tippett
Emily Cross Hostile sexism: a vulnerability that undermines men’s interpersonal relationships. Nickola Overall
Sylvia De Souza Leao Vocal disorders in teachers: prevalence, risk factors and vocal loading. Suzanne Purdy
Tamsin Dehar Maori perspectives on depression, antidepressants and alternative treatments. Claire Cartwright
Aida Dehkhoda The role of palliative psychology in Advance directives for euthanasia in end of life care. Glynn Owens
Caitlyn Drinkwater Being transgender: a qualitative analysis of the experience of transitioning within New Zealand. Nicola Gavey
Stephanie D'Souza Trajectories of child behaviour: growing up in New Zealand. Karen Waldie
Emma Edwards New Zealand adolescents' attitudes towards help-seeking for emotional distress and their views on the development of these attitudes. Kerry Gibson
Laura Ewens Effects of expertise: investigating the lateralisation of visuospatial processing in professional musicians. Lynette Tippett
Manatu Fia An evaluation of the engaging challenging youth programme. Ian Lambie
Kelsey Flynn The development of the visual semantic processing system and symbol-referent relationships in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Karen Waldie
Anoosh Franklin   Evaluating Postnatal Depression and relevant support for Asian mothers in New Zealand Claire Cartwright
Dhakshi Gamage Evaluating the efficacy of the Silver Rainbow education programme on care worker relationships with LGB residents at aged care facilities. Kerry Gibson
Beau Gamble Prospection in depression: how to improve imagination of the future. Donna Rose Addis
Jessica Gerbic Kaupapa Māori research investigating the experiences of young Māori mothers (14 to 25 years of age) in Murupara, Minganui and Kaingaroa. Kerry Gibson
Natalie Germann Evaluation of primary prevention programmes by Rape Prevention Education. Claire Cartwright
Tania Gilchrist Enhancing support for Māori whanau where a risk of child maltreatment has been identified. Fred Seymour
Vania Glyn Efficacy of memory training for healthy older adults: a pilot study. Lynette Tippett
Stephanie Gomes-Ng The local-level effects of conflicting information on choice. Doug Elliffe
Lara Greaves Māori civic participation and identity: models of Māori voter enrolment and turnout. Chris Sibley
Andrea Greenwood Assessing traumatic brain injury classification systems to determine whether they accurately predict neurocognitive outcomes at 6 and 12 months post injury. Suzanne Barker-Collo
Alieh Haghighi Examining the role of work engagement and national culture dimensions between the relationship of spirituality and psychological capital with OCB and well-being: a cross-cultural comparative study. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Romana Gruber The signature-testing approach to the evolution of intelligence Alex Taylor
Beth Lisa Lisa Investigating the context of newcomer socialisation. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Morgyn Hartdegen Clinicians’ experiences of managing clients' suicide risk. Kerry Gibson
Danielle Hay Investigating clinical psychology students’ experiences of imagery in therapy.
Claire Cartwright
Janet Megan Megan Social and technical intelligence in keas. Will Hayward
Dion Henare Using event-related lateralised potentials to investigate the relationship between visual selective attention and visual working memory. Paul Corballis
Rebecca Herald Retrospective accounts of adolescent mental health difficulties. Kerry Gibson
Linda Hollebeek Co-creation best practices: the attainment, design, management and optimisation of concurrent employee engagement/customer engagement. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Yanshu Huang Sexism and women’s rights in New Zealand. Chris Sibley
Germaine Ingley-Cook Therapists experiences of countertransference when working with children who have experienced complex trauma. Claire Cartwright
Bianca Jackson Developing the expert speech-language therapist to work with people with dysphagia. Suzanne Purdy
Shanuki Jayamaha Ineffective support provision in close relationships: predictors, mechanisms and methodological advances. Nickola Overall
Sarah Jelbert Are New Caledonian crows capable of reasoning? Alex Taylor
Haiyang Jin Automatic characteristic and regional selectivity in face holistic processing. Will Hayward
Virginia Jones Professional ethics versus the law: a clash for psychologists working in New Zealand? Suzanne Barker-Collo
Ozge Karakale The role of face processing deficit in social and sensory difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Ian Kirk
Rohan King Cognition and enhancement. Ian Kirk
Christopher Kohler Sliding personal and conventional environmental behaviors into the moral realm. Niki Harre
Ariana Krynen Multi-informant perspectives of step-family therapy in New Zealand.
Claire Cartwright
Eva Kung Long-term potentiation of human visual-evoked potentials. Jeff Hamm
Yvette Lamb The influence of commonly occurring polymorphisms on synaptic plasticity and memory processes. Ian Kirk
Sarah Leadley Training parents/caregivers to implement an applied behaviour analysis intervention to improve food acceptance in children/adults identified with severe feeding difficulties. Suzanne Purdy
Tai Lee Speech and language therapy: speech development of Mandarin-English bilingual children in New Zealand. Elaine Ballard
Yan Lei Exploring how Chinese migrant youth experience seeking help with psychological distress and how they view psychological support services. Kerry Gibson
Joan Leung Exploring methods in assessing and improving affective prosodic perception and production in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including the use of computer-based training activities and remote microphone hearing aids for auditory processing. Suzanne Purdy
Yuhan Li Computational dynamics of reinforcement. Doug Elliffe
  Navigating cultures in therapeutic settings. Margie Wetherell
Sarah Lount Examining the auditory processing and communication abilities of male youth offenders in youth justice residences in New Zealand. Suzanne Purdy
Jennifer Liu Emotion regulation in children. Annette Henderson
Giulia Lowe Circles of support and accountability: an in-depth investigation of circle volunteers' experience and motivation to volunteer. Kerry Gibson
Lucy Macfarlane Compulsive exercise and positive and negative perfectionism. Glynn Owens
Jingwen Mao The electrophysiology of micro-expression production and recognition: an EMG and ERP investigation. Paul Corballis
Erica March Navigating sexual identity in residential aged care. Fred Seymour
Maree Martinussen Friendships, a significant other? Exploring the meaning of contemporary friendships with a focus on gendered practice. Margie Wetherell
Robin Matthews Differentiation of spectral analysis of accoustic measures between two groups of people with Parkinson’s disease. Suzanne Purdy
Sean McArdle Risk factors, recidivism, and reoffending rates of youth offenders in New Zealand. Ian Lambie
Jessica McCormack Application of the differential outcomes procedure to enhance learning in children with intellectual disabilities and/or pervasive developmental disorders. Javier Virues-Ortega
Stuart McGill Examining the nature of reinforcement and its relation to selective attention using Electroencephalography Event Related Potentials. Paul Corballis
Nicole Mckay Investigating how variation in the gene coding for brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) influences structural and functional connectivity in recognition memory circuits. Ian Kirk
Jessica Mee Assessing the validity of the SAPROF model for youth in a New Zealand forensic population. Ian Lambie
Tagonei Mharapara "Dark Side" personality and workplace outcomes: the moderating and mediating effects of social competencies and job attitudes. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Petar Milojev Causes and motivations of prejudiced attitudes in intergroup relations. Chris Sibley
Obradovic Mincic-Obradovic Language shift in the Serbian speaking community in New Zealand. Elaine Ballard
Phoebe Molloy Exploring the role of excessive reassurance-seeking within romantic relationships in the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms. Nickola Overall
Kieron Mottley Effect of relationship on social learning in the parrot. Annette Henderson
Christopher Murray Autobiographical memory in depression: a look at the cognitive and neural mechanisms of remembering and imagining in major depressive disorder. Donna Rose Addis
Patrick Neilands The signature-testing approach to the evolution of intelligence. Alex Taylor
Elizabeth Ogden General practitioners' beliefs and perspectives on depression and antidepressants. Kerry Gibson
Matthew Oxner The functions of consciousness and its relationship to attention. Will Hayward
Rebecca Parkes The experiences of adult sexual assault and sexual abuse complainant witnesses within the New Zealand court system. Fred Seymour
Anna Pearce Help-seeking by young men who experience intimate partner abuse. Kerry Gibson
Katrina Phillips Applied behaviour analysis-specific focus on the comparison of current methods and calibration for assessing quality of direct observation data. Oliver Mudford
Isabel Randell Misconceptions of child abuse and the role of counterintuitive expert psychological evidence. Fred Seymour
James Richards An analysis of social and political thinking in New Zealand youth: opportunities and challenges for youth inclusion in public decisions. Niki Harre
Natina Roberts Family-tales: resettlement of South East Asian refugee (SEAR) families in New Zealand.
Kerry Gibson
Amy Rosso A latent class analysis of the impact of long-lasting maternal psychopathology on child development at 4.5 years: contextual associations, behaviour and infant cognitive status. Fred Seymour
Natalia Samorow Are all minds (tasks) created equal? Comparison of Theory of Mind tasks across age and dopaminergic pathology. Lynette Tippett
Armin Saysani The cognitive and neurological processes in the visually impaired during colour categorisation and representation. Paul Corballis
Evatte Sciberras-Lim The impact of age-related changes to the connectivity of frontoparietal attention network on the control of attention. Tony Lambert
Jordan Searle The influence of prior left/right facing discriminations on performance in the mirror/normal rotated letter task. Jeff Hamm
Nikhil Sengupta Antecedents and consequences of system justification among members of disadvantaged groups. Chris Sibley
Oliver Sheehan On the coevolution of social organisation and religion in the Austronesian-speaking world. Quentin Atkinson
Margaret Spriggs Plasticity and connectomics in the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Ian Kirk
Clare Stanton Parenting young people who are at risk of suicide. Fred Seymour
Rachel Stevenson Process evaluation of puawaitahi - multiagency for child protection. Fred Seymour
Mark Stone Activating the pro-environmental surfer: motivations, identity and sense of place. Niki Harre
Samantha Stronge Discrimination and wellbeing in New Zealand. Chris Sibley
Rachael Sumner Using gamma oscillations to measure cortical excitation-inhibition balance in health and disease. Ian Kirk
Jageshwar Sungkur Antecedents and outcomes of work engagement: the role of mindsets. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Sarvnaz Taherian To investigate a path towards the development of a 'user-friendly' brain computer interface assistive device, in order to mitigate problems faced by individuals with Cerebral Palsy. Glynn Owens
Christina Tamihere Process evaluation of the maori youth programme at SAFE. Ian Lambie
Boon Tan Inclusion and empowerment in parents'/caregivers' interactions with ppeech-language therapists. Linda Hand
Hedieh Tavazo Relationship between parents' cooperative behaviour with children's cooperative behaviours in different ethnic groups. Annette Henderson
Jasmine Taylor Tertiary students' social and academic engagement in the classroom: Conditions that impact on subjective well-being, learning and retention. Helena Cooper-Thomas
Lee Taylor Learners’ conceptions of success and failure in the secondary sector. Liz Peterson
Adriana Thomas Immigrant psychologists’ experiences of the therapeutic relationship and working bi-culturally in New Zealand. Claire Cartwright
Gemma Tricklebank A qualitative study of Māori womens' experiences in mental health services (Māori understandings, identity and help-seeking behaviours). Kerry Gibson
Helen Van Der Merwe The affective practices of clinical psychologists. Margie Wetherell
Jeanne Van Wyk How young people ask for and receive support for suicidal thoughts through a text counselling service. Kerry Gibson
Thomas Vardy The evolution of co-operation in the Pacific. Quentin Atkinson
Sreekari Vogeti Role of static and dynamic information in recognition of face identity and expression. Paul Corballis
Simon Waigth Long term outcomes for Māori following drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Fred Seymour
Simon Walker The efficacy of visual arts therapy as a rehabilitative strategy for the victims of stroke. Lynette Tippett
Anna Walters Resilience in Māori children who witness and experience whanau violence. Fred Seymour
Ting Wang Qualitative interview on the approaches and experiences of young people who have undertaken psychological interventions at the Kari Centre. Kerry Gibson
Ying Wang What do infants understand about the contributions made by action partners during a joint activity? Annette Henderson
Harry Watts Joseph William The cultural evolution of supernatural belief. Quentin Atkinson
Katey Weizel Evaluation of the Family Start Manukau home visitation service. Ian Lambie
Kristina Wiebels A machine learning account of hippocampal involvement in future simulation. Donna Rose Addis
Jaimie Wilkie The role of dorsal and ventral streams in attention. Tony Lambert
Stephen Wolfson Genetic factors in the neurobiology and taxometrics of autistic spectrum disorders. Ian Kirk
Natasha Wright The neuropsychological and functional outcomes of intracerebral haemorrhage at 6 and 12 month follow up: a population-based study. Suzanne Barker-Collo
Deww Zhang BDSM and the social construction of 'sexual deviance'. Glynn Owens
Yunfei Zhao A grounded theory study of the experiences of marital separation of first-generation Chinese immigrants living in New Zealand. Claire Cartwright
Nianzeng Zhong The Individual Differences in Face Identification: the Study of Behavior and Eye-Tracking Will Hayward

Current masters topics

Research topics Masters student Supervisor  
Masculine and feminine subcultures. Karishma Beach Margaret Wetherell
Patterns in swallowing impairment in a paediatric VFSS caseload. Amanda Beatson Anna Miles
The role of response interruption redirection in the reduction of vocal stereotypy. Connolly Bourn Angela Arnold-Saritepe
Teaching baby X. Cindy Chong Annette Henderson
The buffering effect of mindfulness on the emotion regulation difficulties associated with attachment insecurity. Holly Dixon Nickola Overall
The efficacy of vocabulary intervention for young people with oral language difficulties in a NZ Youth Justice Residence. Melissa Dore Linda Hand
Teaching mands to children with cerebral palsy: a comparison of two intervention models, discrete trial teaching and incidental teaching. Zsofia Doublinszki Ablonczy Angela Arnold-Saritepe
Neurophysiological mechanisms of pain perception during sedation. Anna Forsyth Suresh Mutukurmaraswamy
Proactive behaviours at work: a meta-analysis. Sofia Garcia Gavilanes Helena Cooper-Thomas
Oral language skills of incarcerated males in New Zealand: an exploratory study. Hannah George Linda Hand
Descriptive analysis of the administration of PRN medication in a residential care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Kerri Gilmour Javier Virues-Ortega
An investigation of reverse illusory line motion. Sihang Han Jeff Hamm
Verbal behaviour in adults with intellectual disabilities. Aimee Houston Angela Arnold-Saritepe
Māori identity and smoking behaviour in Aotearoa. Emerald McPhee Chris Sibley
Adoption of wheel of choice and other anti-bullying strategies amongst typically developing children and children with special needs in a mainstream classroom. Kerry Mens Suzanne Purdy
Forward vs backwards chaining with naturally reinforcing tasks. Emma Morgan Glynn Owens
Measuring the restoration of Māori at whenua ragatia. Hineatua Parkinson Shiloh Groot
Timing is key: moral permissibility in the past and future. Ding-Cheng Ping Donna Rose Addis
Modern femininity and relationship expectations. Chelsea Pickens Virginia Braun
Visual long-term potential: minimal conditions and periperal induction. Eric Rosentreter Paul Corballis
Quantifying the variability of estimates of sensitivity from signal detection models. Sanika Sathe Michael Hautus
Election outcomes and government satisfaction: attitudes before and after an election. Nicole Satherley Chris Sibley
Impact of authenticity on employee engagement. Jeanine Scholey Helena Cooper-Thomas
Decline of the dorsal visual stream and effects on visual attention in the golden years. Evatte Sciberras-Lim Tony Lambert
Negotiations of queer women's bodies. Sophie Sills Younger Virginia Braun
The development and initial evaluation of an oral language screening tool for young people caught up in the legal system. Mark Stephenson Linda Hand
Critical success factors for speech pathology/speech-language therapy private practice.
Leanne Thomas Suzanne Purdy
Teaching children with intellectual disabilities concepts using a pairing and matching technique on tablet devices. Min Ting Angela Arnold-Saritepe
Auditory processing vs. language processing in post-stroke patients. Iruni Wanigasekara Suzanne Purdy
Functional interdependence of verbal operants in facilitating emergent intraverbal. Monica Widjaja Javier Virues-Ortega
Teaching social skills using video modelling with multiple exemplars. Joanne Wong Angela Arnold-Saritepe
Decision-making complexity in first responders. Catherine Wright-Taylor Barry Hughes
Dyordic approach to psychological contract understanding. Christine Yu Helena Cooper-Thomas
Asian identities in the workplace. Simon Zhu Shiloh Groot