Professor Will Hayward

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Head of Department


I’m originally from Christchurch, and obtained my BA and MA in Psychology from the University of Canterbury. I then went to the US, and obtained my PhD from Yale University, before heading back to the Southern Hemisphere to take a lecturing position at the University of Wollongong, Australia. I have spent the last 14 years in Asia, where I taught first at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and then at the University of Hong Kong, where I was Head of the Department of Psychology. In January 2014 I took the position of Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland.

Research | Current

My primary research interests are in the area of Visual Cognition, which lies at the intersection of perception and memory. How do we make sense of the world that we see and hear? We need to encode key aspects of the perceptual world, and then determine how they relate to information that we already possess. I have a number of research projects within this field.
1.       Face perception. The human face contains a wealth of information, including identity, expression, gender, and ethnicity. In my lab we study a number of issues related to how we understand these characteristics, particularly in terms of identity and ethnicity. We are interested in the way that faces seem to be processed as a whole unit, also known as “holistic processing”, and whether this is related to our ability to identify them or place them in social groups. We also examine the eye-tracking patterns of people when they look at faces, and how they may differ when people look at different kinds of faces.
2.       Perception of rotated objects. We effortlessly recognize objects around us, but each object can project a myriad of different appearances to us. How do we learn to recognize 3D objects over a wide range of different sizes, colours, and viewpoints? In my lab we use a variety of techniques for trying to understand the way in which object information is encoded by the brain.
3.       Visual attention. The world contains far too much visual information for us to process it all, so the brain needs to select that information that seems most useful and important at any instant. The way in which it does this selection is still poorly understood. I’m interested in the principles underlying attentional selection, and the way in which they are affected by other visual attributes.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Zamuner, E., Oxner, M., & Hayward, W. G. (2017). Visual perception and visual mental imagery of emotional faces generate similar expression aftereffects. Consciousness and Cognition, 48, 171-179. 10.1016/j.concog.2016.11.010
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Edoardo Zamuner
  • Hayward, W. G., Favelle, S. K., Oxner, M., Chu, M. H., & Lam, S. M. (2017). The other-race effect in face learning: Using naturalistic images to investigate face ethnicity effects in a learning paradigm. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70 (5), 890-896. 10.1080/17470218.2016.1146781
  • Zamuner, E., Oxner, M., & Hayward, W. G. (2016). Perception and imagery of faces generate similar gender aftereffects. Visual Cognition, 24 (3), 212-225. 10.1080/13506285.2016.1235066
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Edoardo Zamuner
  • Hayward, W. G., Crookes, K., Chu, M. H., Favelle, S. K., & Rhodes, G. (2016). Holistic processing of face configurations and components. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42 (10), 1482-1489. 10.1037/xhp0000246
  • Gaetano, J., van der Zwan, R., Oxner, M., Hayward, W. G., Doring, N., Blair, D., & Brooks, A. (2016). Converging Evidence of Ubiquitous Male Bias in Human Sex Perception. PloS one, 11 (2)
  • Cristino, F., Davitt, L., Hayward, W. G., & Leek, E. C. (2015). Stereo disparity facilitates view generalization during shape recognition for solid multipart objects. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006), 68 (12), 2419-2436.
  • Crookes, K., Ewing, L., Gildenhuys, J. D., Kloth, N., Hayward, W. G., Oxner, M., ... Rhodes, G. (2015). How Well Do Computer-Generated Faces Tap Face Expertise?. PloS one, 10 (11)
  • Chan, L. K., & Hayward, W. G. (2014). No attentional capture for simple visual search: evidence for a dual-route account. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance, 40 (6), 2154-2166.

Contact details

Primary location

Level 6, Room 661
New Zealand

Social links

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