University of Nottingham Malaysia
School of Psychology

Current postgraduate students

We have 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?


Michele Anne

Supervisors: Dr. Steve Janssen

Previous research has indicated that the characteristics of recall of autobiographical memories differ among individuals with symptoms of depression and trauma, as compared to the general population. Individuals with symptoms of depression were shown to easily recall negative memories, have difficulty retrieving positive memories, and have poorer recall of specific memories. People with trauma symptoms were found to easily recall negative memories and memories related to their trauma or anxiety, and have poorer recall of specific memories.

My current research investigates the mechanisms underlying the differences in autobiographical memory recall for individuals with symptoms of depression and trauma. Specifically, I will be looking at whether individuals with higher depression and trauma symptoms exhibit differences in Cultural Life Scripts, which is a framework suggested to be used for recall during self-narration of autobiographical memories. I will also be exploring the CAR-FA-X model (CAR: capture and rumination; FA: functional avoidance; X: executive functioning), a mechanism derived from literature and is theorized to underlie the Overgeneral Autobiographical Memory (OGM) trait seen in depression and trauma. 


Hsin-Yuan Chen

Supervisors: Dr Neil Mennie, Dr Martin Schuermann (UK campus), Dr Alejandro Estudillo

Physical abnormalities frequently arouse emotions. Hand postures play an important role in the social environment. Humans are experts in evaluating other people’s hand and finger postures. Hand and finger postures are important social cues that contribute to our interpretation of another individual’s intentions and thoughts. Finger postures can reveal an individual’s feelings and intentions and automatically attract the viewer’s attention.  Furthermore, perceptual salience is even higher in respond to distorted hand postures which the observer may instantaneously feel uneasy.

My research explores the processing of distorted hand expressions in emotional visual cognition and to confirm if the visual stimuli of a distorted hand do evoke human emotions by quantifying human behaviour , pupil dilation, and event-related potentials (ERPs).


Espírito Santo, M. G., Chen, H.-Y., & Schürmann, M. (2017). Lateralized occipito-temporal N1 responses to images of salient distorted finger postures. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 14129. 


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.

Jaya Kumar Karunagharan





Vivian Eng Jing Lin

Supervisors: Dr. Steve Janssen, Dr. Jason Satel (University of Tasmania), 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.


Eng, V., Lim, A., Kwon, S., Gan, S. R., Jamaluddin, S. A., Janssen, S. M. J., & Satel, J. (2017). Stimulus-response incompatibility eliminates inhibitory cueing effects with saccadic but not manual responses. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 79 (4),1097–1106. doi: 10.3758/s13414-017-1295-8


Andrea Soledad Matos

Supervisor: Dr. Chuma Owuamalam

Understanding how people respond to the misfortune of others is crucial for the improvement of the social support and well-being of victims. However, the coverage of terrorist attacks and, in particular, people’s emotional and consequent behavioral reactions to them are little understood and seem to vary depending on the social standing of the groups to which the victims belong. One example of this status-based compassion bias can be gleamed by looking at the overwhelming outpour of support for Paris after the bombing in 2015, while a similar attack on Beirut mere hours prior received significantly less solidarity from the rest of the world. Of course, the difference in peoples’ reactions to these events may be due to a variety of other political, economic and social factors. However, I propose that bystanders may experience different sorts of compassion when observing the suffering of groups they view as high status than when observing the suffering of low status groups.

My research, therefore, examines this proposition, investigating the prevalence of the status-based compassion bias on a range of attitudinal and behavioral orientations, the ideological basis for it, as well as the conditions under which this bias is most visible, attenuated or even reversed.


Owuamalam, C. K., & Matos, A. S. (2018). Do egalitarians always help the disadvantaged more than the advantaged? Testing a value-norm conflict hypothesis in Malaysia. Asian Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/ajsp.12351.


Salik Masood

Supervisors: Dr. Jessica Price, 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.


Mass Misha’ari Weerabangsa

Supervisor: Dr. Chuma Owuamalam, Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams

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.


Jasmine Lee Kar Wye

Supervisors: Dr Alejandro Estudillo, Dr Steve Janssen

Our own face is presumably our most distinctive physical feature and considerably a unique self-referential stimulus that we do not share with others. The own face is strongly tied to our identity and self-consciousness the ability to recognize one’s own face helps in maintaining a sense of self. Self-face recognition contributes to one’s sense of identity and therefore exploring cognitive mechanisms that underlie self-face processing is requisite to understand certain impairments ranging from minor cosmetics concerns to more serious disorders (i.e., bodily disorders and depression).

My current research explores the mechanisms involved in the processing and recognition of the own face and the differences with the mechanisms involved in the processing of other familiar and unfamiliar faces. Furthermore, we hope to shed light on the role of self-referential processing in mental health (i.e., depression) and bodily disorders (i.e., anorexia nervosa). 


Shumetha Kaur Sidhu

Supervisor: Dr. David Keeble, Dr. Harriet Allen (UK Campus)

There are many attributes of a visual scene which can be used by the human visual system to segment, discriminate, and identify different surfaces and objects. Of these attributes, one that has been studied extensively is orientation-based texture. Such changes in texture segregation are primarily studied because of their neurophysiological basis and their role in perceptual organization.

My current research will employ psychophysical methods in discrimination and segmentation tasks to investigate the role of texture discontinuities (region in which the property of the texture changes). By systematically changing the parameters of the stimulus, and analyzing how performance varies, we will be able to understand aspects of how the underlying mechanisms of texture perception function. This work will enhance our understanding of the visual processes that occurs in the early stages, as well as the representation of texture by the visual system.


Chang Huan Lo

Supervisors: Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams, Dr. Julien Mayor (University of Oslo)

A number of studies have shown that young children learn better from live experiences than from passive video viewing and this is termed the 'video deficit effect'. This effect, however, can be ameliorated with social contingency. As video chats retain social contingency, young children who experience live interactions via video chats are able to learn more compared to those who watch yoked videos. More recently, researchers have found that children as young as two can learn a novel object label without the 'social' element thanks to touchscreen devices which afford physically contingent interactions.

My research aims to find out whether young children can learn words from tablets, through either active or passive learning, as well as to make experiments more accessible using web-based technologies.


Jun Ho Chai

Supervisors: Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams, Dr. Julien Mayor (University of Oslo), Dr Wong Tze Peng, Dr Low Hui Min (University of Science, Malaysia), Dr Tomas Maul

Language impairment is diagnosed when a child’s language does not develop normally. Sometimes, language impairments may co-exist with other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental disabilities (DD), or other psychological or emotional disorders. Early detection of language impairments is very important as early intervention is often more effective than treating the problems later in life. However, there is a lack of language assessment tools specific for Malaysian.

The objective of my project is to design culturally and linguistically-specific language assessment tools for Malaysia. There are several ways to assess if a child has a normal language development. In current project, we focused on the Communicative Developmental Inventories (CDI) developed by MacArthur-Bates. Initially, a standard CDI form will be used to collect data for norming. A shorter CDI form will then developed using the data obtained. Ideally, the shorter CDI form will be less time-consuming, yet function similarly as the original CDI form. This helps the practitioners to efficiently identify children with potential language delay or impairments.


Safira binti Abu Bakar

Supervisors: Dr. Marieke de Vries, Dr. Elizabeth Sheppard (UK Campus)

My current research aims to explore potential cognitive and behavioural differences in the expression of autistic traits within the general population of Malaysia. Previous research suggests that Malaysians score higher on a self-report autism questionnaire as compared to people in the UK. It is unclear whether a higher score on this questionnaire is merely a result of a tendency to give higher scores on questionnaires in general, or whether this really reflects a cognitive or behavioural difference between people in Malaysia and people in the UK. The current study project focuses on comparing cognition and behaviour in the general population in Malaysia and the UK. Several behavioural factors will be investigated on cognitive and behavioural levels, with tasks and questionnaires, to truly understand whether there is a difference in the expression of autistic traits between cultures, which has ramifications when it comes to the diagnostic tools used in Malaysia for Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Keith Chee Zhong Jian

Supervisor: Dr. Marieke de Vries

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that usually manifest in early childhood and the affected individuals would display social/communication deficits and restricted, repetitive behaviour. One of the most influential cognitive theories of ASD postulates that the social deficits are related to the executive dysfunctions. Moreover, previous research has shown that individuals with ASD show poorer quality of life compared to their typically developing peers. While various interventions are available for individuals with ASD, there is a paucity of research on the physical activity intervention for individuals with ASD, especially in Malaysia.

My current research investigates the efficacy of a physical activity program in improving the social skills, quality of life and executive functions of youths with ASD.


Omidreza Fani

Supervisor: Dr. Marieke de Vries

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social communication and interactions, and restricted, repetitive behaviours. Culture - as an environmental factor - might have an effect on ASD symptoms, but also on the diagnosis.  ASD diagnosis, at least partly, relies on the judgment of social behaviour. Culture shapes norms and beliefs about behaviour, and what is perceived as normal or abnormal (social) behaviour is affected by culture. The perception of abnormal behaviour is influenced by culture, which affects the diagnosis of ASD. My research aims to investigate cross-culture differences in the perception of ASD traits, and the mental health of parents of children with ASD in different cultures.


Kelly Kho Siew Kei

Supervisors: Dr Alejandro Estudillo, Dr David Keeble

Developing an effective way to increase face recognition ability is crucial as it could provide important implications for occupations that requires high facial recognition skills such as passport and police officers and to individuals with certain developmental and neurological disorders that are associated with facial recognition deficit. Recent studies have suggested that transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) could have implications on face perception. However, it is unclear whether the effect of TES could also be generalized to other-races faces as well as individuals tend to be worse at matching other-race faces compared to own-race faces (also known as other-race effect (ORE)). My current research investigates the effect of TES over the occipitotemporal areas of the skull on the recognition of own and other-race faces.


Kai Hao Chong

Supervisors: Dr Christine Leong Xiang Ru, Dr Jessica Price

English plays an important role as a global lingua franca in connecting people from different corner of the world. Hundred millions of people speak English as their native language, a foreign language (FL) or a second language (L2), resulting in many different varieties of Englishes.

There are strong research evidences showing that variation in these speakers’ accent, phonemic pronunciation, stress, and intonation, caused by their native language interference affects intelligibility and comprehensibility of speech perception and production. The affective components associated with FL/L2 usage, for instance anxiety, can also be deemed unhelpful with its debilitating effect on communication. My current research aims to add insight on the psycholinguistics area by looking into the factors and effects of L2 anxiety associated with intelligibility and comprehensibility of speech perception and production.


Bryan Leong Qi Zheng

Supervisors: Dr Alejandro Estudillo, Dr Miflah Hussain, Dr Steve Janssen

Recent studies argued that face recognition abilities could be quantified into a spectrum by using just a standardized test (Cambridge Face Memory Task, CFMT). Neurotypicals’ face recognition abilities were able to predict those with neurological deficit in face recognition, prosopagnosics, and those with exceptional face recognition abilities, super-recognisers, which reflects opposite ends of this spectrum. In light of that, investigating the differences at the basic level of face individuation (spatial frequency and holistic processing) between participants from opposite ends would provide further insight to face recognition abilities.

My study aims to explore individual differences in face recognition and the specific mechanisms utilised that aids in better face recognition, which in return can be used to train those with poor recognition abilities.


Soon Tat Lee

Supervisors: Dr Christine Leong, Dr Jessica Price, Dr Walter van Heuvan (UK Campus).

Language ability has become an important criterion for university entry and some job appointments. Although the standardized IELTS and TOEFL could provide some indications of one’s English proficiency level, there is no easy measure to determine one’s language proficiency, especially for our national language – Bahasa Malaysia (BM). It also poses as a problem to linguistic research that targets bilingual populations who speak BM as their first language (L1) or second language (L2). There is no objective test that is easily accessible to examine the participants’ language ability.

My current research aims at developing a Bahasa Malaysia (BM) translation norm database for English words, and subsequently creating a 5-minutes BM lexical test - BM LexTALE. The BM LexTALE devised can be used as a valid measure of BM vocabulary knowledge for BM L2 speakers, and potentially, BM L1 speakers.


Mei Ling Soh

Supervisors: Dr Alejandro Estudillo, Dr. Achille Pasqualotto, Dr Neil Mennie

Single-digit multiplication learning is a prerequisite skill in mathematics and it is critical for the learning of more advanced mathematics knowledge. Unfortunately, such skill is difficult for some students especially among children with mathematics difficulties (MD). Difficulties in learning multiplication table have important consequences. Children with poor multiplication skills are less competent in academic studies and are likely to experience poor mental health and the consequences also extends beyond school years as studies have found that children who have MD grow up to perform poorly in their professional career and receive lower income. As such, it is important to understand more about the numeracy literacy, possibly the cognitive and neural mechanism involved in single-digit multiplication before effective interventions can be carried out.

My current research plans to unravel the mechanisms behind the single-digit multiplication and hopefully, the knowledge attained can be used for the development of the educational program in Malaysia and other developing countries. This study aims to use neuroscientific and educational approach to explore the mechanism that underlies the single-digit multiplication learning among low-multiplication fluency (LMF) and high multiplication fluency (HMF) participants. 


School of Psychology

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

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8000
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8018

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