Projects and Funding

Evaluation of the Blue Dog Prevention Programme – Does it Work in Real Life?
Dr Kerstin Meints, Dr. Nelly Lakestani, Dr. Tiny De Keuster
Our recent assessment of the interactive Blue Dog dog bite prevention programme has shown that the CD does indeed teach children successfully about safe behaviour with dogs. The results are published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. We are now carrying out a follow-up project evaluating the second part of the Blue Dog bite prevention programme with children from 3-5 years to investigate if children apply what they have learned from the CD also with their own pet dog.

spatialSpatial Information Representation and Language
Emile van der Zee
Current projects focus on the way in which languages encode motion (e.g., at what grain levels is motion represented in language and how motion is encoded across different languages in closed class items (prepositions and case)). Other projects consider the object features that play a role in word learning in other species, such as the dog (media attention and research paper. More recently I have looked into educational theory and moral reasoning in relation to primary school children.

Primate Socio-Ecology
Dr Bonaventura MajoloInfant carrying
Monkeys and apes are excellent model species to understand the evolution of human social behaviour. This project aims to analyse which ecological (e.g. food abundance) and cognitive factors affect social behaviour, and on the differences/similarities between humans and our closest relatives. Most of our research is done with wild Barbary macaques in Morocco, but data are also collected on other animal species in zoos and research centres.

decisionsDecision Making
Fenja Ziegler
Each day people have to make decisions, weighing up options and choices both in relatively small and trivial matters and in those with potentially life-changing consequences. Whilst many decisions are choices we make for ourselves, there are also a large number of decisions we make on behalf of others, and these surrogate decisions are rarely accurate. Our research is concerned with understanding the mechanisms of surrogate decision making in children and adults. One of our current projects is the first to investigate how closely surrogate decisions match self choice on a range of health related questions in an older, healthy sample. Visit Fenja Ziegler’s website to find out more.

child-road-safetyChild and Adolescent Road Safety
Dr Karen Pfeffer
Our research objectives are to investigate the factors that influence pedestrian safety and the safety of young drivers. Research methods include naturalistic observation, experimental methods (laboratory-based and field experiments), simulation studies, surveys and questionnaires.

Children’s Misinterpretation of Dog Facial Expressions
Dr Kerstin Meints, Anais Racca, Naomi Hickey
Miscommunication between children and dogs has been often suggested as a potential reason for the higher occurrence of dog bite towards young children in comparison to adults. We examined the ability of 4-, 5-, 6-year-old children and adults to recognize dog and human facial expressions. We presented the participants with pictures of humans’ and dogs’ faces displaying ‘angry’, ‘happy’ or ‘neutral’ expression and asked them to judge their emotional state. Our results show that all children groups presented lower performance compared to adults at judging ‘angry’ dog faces whereas ‘happy’ dogs faces were identified at an adult level from 5 years of age. An analysis of the mistakes in 4-year-old showed that angry dogs were often interpreted as happy, which could explain the high incidence of dog bites towards younger children, as the visual signals of the dogs might be misinterpreted.

Dr Bonaventura Majolo
Co-operation is a key aspect of human societies; yet, the causes and consequences of co-operation are still unclear. This project focuses on the role that development, decision-making and resources at stake play on co-operative interactions. We use economic games, experiments and observations to analyse when and how co-operation occurs.

behaviourDecsion and Behaviour Prediction
Fenja Ziegler
We run a multitude of projects which investigate how we get inside other people’s heads. Being able to take somebody else’s perspective enables us to understand and predict their behaviour and should help us with making decisions for them. Often we see a bias in our judgements which seem to stem from a strong influence from our own perspective. We investigate the role of these biases in the area of decision making and behaviour prediction in typically developing children and adults. Current studies use the Balloon Analogue Risk Test (BART) and response timed theory of mind measures.  Visit Fenja Ziegler’s website to find out more.

Processing Facial Cues in Social Interactions
Dr Kun GuoDr Kerstin Meints, Prof. Daniel Mills, Anais Racca & Fiona Williams
Face perception plays crucial role in primate social communication and human-animal interactions. In this project we use preferential looking and mobile eye tracking protocol to compare the process of utilizing various facial cues to guide natural behaviour in pet dogs, wolves, rhesus monkeys, and human infants and adults. Our initial findings have been reported in academic journals and covered in places such as New Scientist and the BBC.

cross-culturalCross-Cultural Psychology
Dr Karen Pfeffer
Karen Pfeffer is an experienced cross-cultural psychologist with research interests in child development, child safety and lifespan development.