Welcome to the Atkinson lab for Social Perception

About me:

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Durham University, UK.

I am originally from New Zealand, where I completed BSc and MSc degrees in Psychology at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. I moved to the UK to undertake a doctorate in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, under the supervision of Martin Davies, who was then Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy. I then took up a lectureship in Psychology at King Alfred’s College Winchester (now University of Winchester). From there I moved to Durham University, where I have been since 2003. I have held visiting research fellowships at the University of York (2001; host: Prof Andy Young) and the University of Iowa (2004; host: Prof Ralph Adolphs).

I am a member of the Durham Centre for Imaging (DCI), of Durham University’s Centre for Vision and Visual Cognition, and of the Department of Psychology’s Perception, Action & Awareness research group.

About the lab:

Our research focuses on the psychological and neural mechanisms underpinning our ability to perceive social information, such as emotions and personality traits, from faces and bodies. Current projects include:

  • foveal vs. extrafoveal processing of features within faces underpinning emotion perception, with Hannah Smithson (Oxford University) and PhD student Nazire Duran
  • visual perception of social interactions, with Quoc Vuong (Newcastle University)

We are also engaging in collaborative work on visuomotor control (with Dorothy Cowie and PhD student Rachel Mowbray) and visual attention (with Dan Smith and Bob Swalwell), and on social cognition and communication in primates (with Zanna Clay and Mariska Kret).

Current funding:

• ESRC/Open Research Area (ORA). “’EmoOrigin’: Production and perception of expressions of emotions in humans and their closest relatives.” Team member (PI: Dr Mariska Kret, Leiden University; PI: Dr Zanna Clay, Durham). £469,239, 2019-2022.

Some past funding:

• A Network Grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK), in collaboration with Prof. Matthew Ratcliffe • A Short-Term Fellowship from the Human Frontiers Science Program • Membership of the McDonnell Project in Philosophy and the Neurosciences • A Research Fellowship grant from the Leverhulme Trust