Psychology strong in Leverhulme Prizes

Ella Rhodes reports on recent awards.

Five psychologists are among the 30 recipients of the 2018 Philip Leverhulme Prizes to support early-career researchers whose work has already had significant international impact in furthering their research. Among the winners were researchers in social robotics, the history of emotion, mental health and social evolution.  

The Philip Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest all-subject funders of research in the UK and provides its annual prizes across 18 disciplines making awards in six of these disciplines per year. Each awardee, who must be within 10 years of receiving their doctorate, receives £100,000 across two or three years to be used in their future research.

This year’s winners in the Psychology category were:

  • Emily Cross, a Professor of Social Robotics (University of Glasgow) who co-directs the Social Brain in Action Lab. She explores experience-dependent plasticity in the human brain and behaviour using neuroimaging as well as how social experience and expectations shape how we perceive and interact with robots.
  • Dr Stephen Fleming, who leads the metacognition group at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London. He and his group research the mechanisms that support metacognition, conscious awareness and decision making in the brain.
  • Dr Claire Haworth (University of Bristol), whose research focuses on mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan and what factors affect it. She also explores individual differences including using genetic techniques and has explored how genetic and environmental influences may change across development, in different environments and after interventions.
  • Dr Harriet Over (University of York), a researcher in intergroup bias in children and adults, social learning and motivation and cross-cultural approaches to development. Some of her recent work has explored the developmental origins of dehumanisation and whether young children see outgroup faces as less human.

Professor Nichola Raihani, who leads the Social Evolution and Behaviour Group. Her research explores the evolution of cooperation in nature and what mechanisms can maintain cooperation.

Some of those who received prizes in the Visual and Performing Arts category also explore psychological phenomena in their work. Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL) studies the effects of social and community participation in health with a particular focus on engagement in the arts and culture. For example, some of her more recent publications have involved examining the effects of a singing intervention on people with postnatal depression and creativity on social and behavioural adjustment in 7- to 10-year-old children. Dr Tiffany Watt Smith (Queen Mary, University of London) has researched the cultural history of emotions, the links between theatre and science and early 20th-century experimental neurology and psychology.

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