School of Psychology

Current postgraduate students

There are a number of postgraduate students in the department studying for PhD and MPhil degrees in various areas of psychology.

Adila Binti Alias

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, Dr. Brigitte Graf (UK Campus)

Past research has shown that culture plays a critical role in determining food choice. This is because factors such as the environment, ritual and belief systems, the dynamics of the community and family structure, human endeavour, mobility and economic and political systems are integrated into a range of particular 'traditional' and accepted rules of cuisine and appropriateness. Does culture and its strong historical antecedents, help mould the diet individual's in a specific society?

I hope to find out if there are any discrepancies in the selection of food across cultures once a stressor has been introduced. The experimental hypothesis is that food selection will change when under the influence of stress and will be influenced by the participant's ethnic identity. Previous research has shown that stress-induced eating can be elicited when there is a significant increase in corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) or cortisol that can be found in the saliva.


Azlina Amir Kassim

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, Dr. Matthew Johnson, Prof. Peter Mitchell

My research focuses on validating a novel cognitive task known as ADEPT as a potential diagnostic tool for Alzheimer's disease. It involves administering the tool to demographically diverse patient populations with respect to gender, ethnicity and education to determine its suitability as a potential diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease.

In conjunction with ADEPT, I use electroencephalography (EEG) to record event-related potentials (ERP's) in relation to participants performance on the cognitive tasks.


Vrushant Lakhlani

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, Dr. Roger Newport (UK Campus), Dr. Kirsten McKenzie

My research focuses on cross-modal integration and tactile illusions; investigating the temporal dynamics of illusory tactile and bodily sensations in neurologically healthy individuals.

I use the Somatic Signal Detection Task (SSDT) and the MIRAGE Virtual reality system to induce illusions based on cross-modal manipulations, and chart the time-course of these somatic distortions using electroencephalography (EEG).


Lee Ai-Suan

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Ian Stephen, Dr. Elizabeth Sheppard

My research is in the area of cross-cultural face perception and description. I am comparing the patterns with which Malaysian Chinese look at and describe East Asian and Western Caucasian faces.

Previous research has found cultural differences in the way individuals look at faces. The use of language as a cultural prime has been shown to elicit different responses when participants perform identical tasks in different languages. I aim to use English and Mandarin on a Malaysian Chinese sample to examine if language priming will influence the way they describe faces. I also use eye-tracking methodologies to examine if language priming also has an effect on their looking strategy.


Lee Yee Mun

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Elizabeth Sheppard, Dr. Kirsten McKenzie

Road Accidents are one of the main causes of death in Malaysia. My research is about investigating the performance of driving hazard perception among Malaysian drivers. It is important to create a suitable paradigm to be used in Malaysia in order to understand, explore and improve driving hazard perception of Malaysians. Hazard perception testing has been introduced in other countries such as UK and Australia in driver licensing because there is evidence that scores on tests of hazard perception are associated with actual driving performance, and specifically accident involvement. EEG will be used in my research to investigate brain activity while performing hazard perception test, to provide evidence of the hazard perception at a physiological level. Eye tracking will also be used to record the eye movements of drivers, which will enable us to differentiate between when a hazard is first perceived and when it is appraised as hazardous.


Lee, Y. M., Sheppard, E., & Crundall, D. (2015). Cross-cultural effects on the perception and appraisal of approaching motorcycles at junctions. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 31, 77-86. doi: 10.1068/p7499


Christine Leong

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, Dr. Nikki Pitchford (UK Campus), Dr. Walter Van Heuven (UK Campus)

As technology advances and communication between countries becomes unavoidable, a rapid and noticeable increase in number of multilingual speakers can be observed across the world. Malaysia is a multicultural country, and it is common for people to speak at least two or more languages. This will provide me with the opportunity to study the implications and benefits of being a multilingual speaker.

My main area of research is to investigate language acquisition in young multilingual children in Malaysia, as they start to learn different languages simultaneously. The basic aim of this research is to develop a speech discrimination training program to target specific communication problems and maximise training in multilingual speakers. If possible, I would also extend this research to older adults, and with different languages commonly spoken in Malaysia (e.g., Chinese, Malay and Tamil), and further afield (e.g., Spanish and French).


Cheng Lim

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Elizabeth Sheppard, Dr. David Crundall (UK Campus)

I am researching hazard perception and the ability to recognise and react to hazards while driving. Traditional hazard perception tests involve watching driving videos and responding as soon as you see a hazard. Past research has found that performance on these tests is associated with actual accident rates, and also improves as drivers gain experience. In 2002 the UK introduced a hazard perception test into their driver licensing curriculum, and it now forms part of the theory test.

I am comparing hazard perception skills of Malaysian and UK drivers using two methods: the task described above, and a predictive task asking drivers "what happens next?" We also track eye movements to compare visual strategies. Both tasks differentiate between novice and experienced drivers in the UK, but will this be the case in Malaysia? Through this research, we hope to gain insights into how drivers view hazards at home and abroad, and whether cultural differences pose a barrier to the export of hazard perception methodologies.


Roslinda binti Mustapha

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Prof. Claire O'Malley

Faces are fascinating stimuli, providing information about identity, emotion, age, gender and intentions of individuals. Previous studies indicate that sensitivity to facial expressions of threat is related to anxiety in children and adolescents. Facial emotions displayed by parents may therefore impact on adolescents’ emotional state, attitudes towards others and sensitivity to threat stimuli.

My research investigates parenting style among Malay parents and examines their adolescent children’s perceptions of threat and anxiety. Adolescents who are consistently exposed to poor parenting practice develop a negative perception of their parents. Anger faces may be threatening, while fear faces may be interpreted by high anxiety adolescents as a sign of threat and danger in the environment. I aim to explore young adolescents’ perceptions of their parents’ parenting style, how this relates to their anxiety and how this affects adolescents’ perceptions of ambiguous facial expressions as threatening. This study will also take into account the role of adolescents’ temperament as a mediator of self-regulation.


Treshi Perera

Supervisors: Dr. Julien Mayor, Dr. Roger Newport (UK Campus), Dr. Kirsten McKenzie

The 'rubber hand illusion' has provided a means of studying body ownership in healthy participants and has shown that ownership maybe based on the convergence of multi-sensory inputs. Some theorists argue that a bottom up process of multi-sensory matching is needed for the rubber hand illusion to occur while others state that the illusion depends on top down processes. To resolve this multi-sensory conflict, we have to see which representation is particularly disrupted. Although previous studies have determined which brain regions are activated during this illusion, as yet we do not know the time-course of the illusion. Therefore, my research uses the MIRAGE virtual-reality system investigate whether bottom up or top down processes are more important in these illusory body distortions and EEG to investigate when these illusory sensations occur.


Poh Wei Lin

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, Dr. Walter Van Heuven (UK Campus), Dr. Matthew Johnson

My research focuses on visual attention and memory in thought processing. Previous studies found the inhibition of return (IOR) as an effect that encourages exploration for new unattended items during a visual search by inhibiting one’s ability to return to the previously explored area. This effect enhances one’s ability to search or process novel information when perceiving new stimuli such as searching for targets in video games or looking at the fine details of a painting. I use different methodologies to investigate the variables that may enhance one’s ability to process visual information much quicker and to effectively discern between types of information. I am interested in the interaction between attention and memory, and the role that visual perception plays in this interaction.


Tan Kok Wei

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Ian Stephen, Prof. Peter Mitchell

Human face provides a variety of useful information about the bearer, from the apparent clue of gender, ethnicity, and age to the subtle and implicit interpretation of one’s intelligence and health status.

I use psychophysical techniques to determine sensitivity thresholds of facial coloration, and examine its association with perceived health and attractiveness. I will also be looking at how exercise, and fruit consumption affect our physical and physiological functioning. We hope that by establishing the association between these variables, it will help us to design an effective appearance-based intervention to encourage health-enhancing-behaviours, such as engaging in regular exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables.


Tan, K. W., & Stephen, I. D. (2013). Sensitivity threshold of colour changes in facial skin and colour patches. Perception, 42, 733–741. doi: 10.1068/p7499


Jaya Kumar Karunagharan

Supervisors: Dr. Chuma Owuamalam, Prof. Ganakumaran Subramaniam

Understanding psychological barriers to healthy interactions between students and teachers is vital to promote a positive classroom experience. One crucial factor that contributes to classroom experience is the fear of making mistakes. However, we know little about the conditions under which such fears become salient, the psychological mechanisms underlying them, and possible approached to prevent such incapacitating mind-set. Therefore, my PhD will explore inter alia, the implications of social category salience, and meta-stereotyping and teaching style on Malaysian students’ classroom participation. In the end, I expect to integrate assumptions derived from the social identity theory and stereotype inoculation models into a richer framework explaining classroom experience amongst Malaysian university students.


Vivian Eng Jing Lin

Supervisors: Dr. Jason Satel, Dr. Julien Mayor, Dr. David Keeble

Whether it is searching for pennies in a coin purse, a face in a crowd, or a book on a cluttered desk, every day we perform a succession of visual searches by shifting our attention to find what we are looking for. One of the visual attention processes that allows us to search efficiently is inhibition of return (IOR).

IOR refers to a phenomenon where bias exists against previously attended locations. I explore this attentional mechanism by integrating behavioural experiments with eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) recordings, investigating different event-related potential (ERP) components in spatial orienting and visual search paradigms while getting my feet wet in the computational modelling of IOR.


Mazrul Mahadzir

Supervisors: Dr. Neil Mennie, Dr. Ting Kang Nee, Dr. Alastair Smith (UK Campus)

Primates have evolved binocular vision that they use for spatial exploration. A lot of research has helped us understand this process in humans. However, almost nothing is known about Orangutan visual cognition in natural environments where gaze and action are unhindered by the confines of a laboratory.

My research explores the predictive use of vision by orangutans in navigation and foraging for rewards in naturalistic environments. I use a portable eye tracker to record orangutan and human gaze as they search for rewards in a specially build foraging room. I aim to identify and determine their gaze strategies and motor actions  as they learn to search for hidden rewards inside this room. I will also be looking at how the value of the rewards will affect learning and strategies in this task.


Nor Firdous binti Mohamed

Supervisors: Dr. Daniel Seal, Dr. David Keeble

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the main cause of premature mortality in Malaysia and globally. The study aims to improve the health outcomes and quality of life of Malaysian patients with CHD by helping them to make a health behaviour change.

The research design of the current study will be an embedded mixed methods intervention design. The initial stage of the study will involve data from qualitative interviews that will be embedded in the development process of culturally tailored health behaviour change intervention, and finally will be quantitatively evaluated for the effectiveness of the programme. The qualitative insights from the current study will also suggest whether to adapt existing Western cardiac rehabilitation intervention towards Malaysians health behaviour change or to develop new interventions that are suitable and practical with Malaysians cultural practices.


Mohamed, N. F., Azan, A., Lebar, O., Shaharom, M. H., & Peterson, R. F. (2014). Family support, positive thinking and spirituality correlates on psychologically distressed heart failure patients. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 127, 484-488. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.295

Mohamed, N. F., Azan, A., Peterson, R. F., Mohamad Alwi, M. N., & Shaharom M. H. (2014). Mental and physical health comparison among psychologically distressed heart failure patients in Malaysia. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 127, 412-416. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.281

Mohamed, N. F., & Sharifah Fauziah Hanim, S. Z. (2014). Liability of unwed mothers. British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, 4, 74-87. doi: 10.9734/BJESBS/2014/5684


Salik Masood

Supervisors: Dr. Julien Mayor, Dr. Roger Newport (UK Campus), Dr. Kirsten McKenzie (Lincoln University)

My research investigates Multimodal integration in individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), focusing on how visual, tactile and proprioceptive (body position) information is processed by individuals on the spectrum. Given the high prevalence of sensory disturbances within these modalities, I use the MIRAGE virtual reality system to induce various sensory illusions to investigate differences in cross-modal integration and susceptibility to tactile illusions in the Autistic population and individuals exhibiting high autistic tendencies.

We aim to understand how sensory integration is different in autism, whether similar processes are responsible for this atypical integration, and whether these processes may underlie the sensory issues often reported by individuals with Autism.


Yvonne K. H. Teoh

Supervisors: Dr. David Keeble, Prof. Peter Mitchell, Dr. Ian Stephen

The ability to accurately interpret and recognise the behaviour and emotions of others is crucial for effective communication. A person’s reaction can inform others of their emotional state, and also the social situations that caused the behaviour. Therefore, it is important to detect whether people adjust their behaviour based on the social situations they are experiencing for others to react accordingly.

My research investigates whether individuals are able to infer the emotions displayed by others and whether people are able to identify when others are alone or observed by another. By doing so, individuals are required to mentalise. For a more naturalistic approach, my research uses video clips of various individuals’ spontaneous behaviour instead of the conventional static photographs. Eye-tracking technology may also be used to gain further understanding of people’s gaze patterns when they infer the behaviour of others.


Coey Wong Kang Xin

Supervisors: Dr. Chuma Owuamalam, Dr. Jessica Price

People who are overweight continue to face difficulties in today’s society in terms of negative regard and treatment. We know such negativity often is a consequence of stereotyping. For example, people who are overweight are stereotyped to be incompetent in physical activity (e.g., exercising). However, overweight people, at times, experience weight-based negativity from others in domains that are unrelated to physical activity (e.g., they may face negative treatment in job-seeking and even at work that may be tied to their weight status). My research seeks to (a) examine whether people ‘transfer’ stereotypes of physical competence regarding overweight people to other unrelated domains (e.g., managerial competence) and (b) uncover the psychological mechanisms responsible for this.


Mass Misha’ari Weerabangsa

Supervisor: Dr. Chuma Owuamalam

My research examines the lay belief that members of low-status groups are more expressive of anger compared to their higher-status counterparts, who are perceived as calmer: we term this perception the ‘hunchback stereotype’. Indirect evidence from previous research suggests that this is a pervasive lay stereotype that applies to multiple relative status contexts. My planned programme of research centres on establishing direct evidence for the existence of the hunchback stereotype, its cognitive mechanisms, and moderators influencing its activation and expression. Over the course of my investigations, I also aim to develop novel, unambiguously objective means of gathering behavioural data that may be interpreted and analysed from a social psychology perspective, using methods drawn from social cognition and social neuroscience research.


Hoo Keat Wong

Supervisor: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Ian Stephen (Macquarie University)

The tendency for individuals to have better recognition of own-race faces compared to other-race faces –known as the own-race bias (ORB)– is a well-known psychological phenomenon that has been studied for decades. Conducting research on the ORB in multi-racial society, such as Malaysia, can be helpful as it could shed light on how interracial contact and cultural factors interact to influence cross-racial face recognition and face processing.

My current research investigates the ORB in Malaysians (e.g. Malay, Malaysian, and Indian) and Caucasians by using a classic yes/no face recognition task. Eye tracking techniques are also used to examine if individuals from different ethnic groups adopt different eye movement strategies when perceiving own- and other-race faces. More specifically, we would like to confirm whether the dissimilar face processing styles between Malaysian Malay, Malaysian Chinese, and Malaysian Indian individuals who live in the same East-Asian country with Western influences truly exist.


Wong, H. K., Keeble, D. R. T., & Stephen, I. D. (2015, July). Do I know you? The own-race bias and eye tracking for face recognition in Malaysians and Caucasians. Poster presented at the Asia-Pacific Vision Conference 2015 (APVC), Nanyang University, Singapore.


School of Psychology

The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

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