University of Nottingham Malaysia
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?






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, 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


Mazrul Mahadzir

Supervisors: Dr. Neil Mennie, Dr. Ting Kang Nee

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.


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.


Hoo Keat Wong

Supervisors: 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.


Alfred Lim

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

The intermediate layer of the superior colliculus (iSC) contains a retinotopic motor map for saccade generation, with each location associated with a particular direction and amplitude of a saccade. With the use of dynamic neural field (DNF) models – mathematical models that describe the space-time continuous distribution of neural activation, the neural basis of saccade behaviour can be inferred by modelling the iSC. The primary focus of my current research is to validate the pragmatism of a two-dimensional DNF model in simulating an orienting phenomenon, termed inhibition of return, on account of neural adaptation.


Sia Ming Yean

Supervisor: Dr. David Keeble, Dr Wong Tze Peng, Dr. Julien Mayor (University of Oslo)

Children show a spurt in word learning around two years of age. According to a theory known as the mutual exclusivity (ME) bias, children are able to learn the names of objects very quickly, because they learn to give each object only one name. Thus, children tend to match new words they hear with objects of which they do not know the name. However, in a multilingual setting like Malaysia, children learn more than one name for each object. Previous studies have found that, when children were exposed to two or more languages, children tend to be willing to learn another word for an object that already has a name. My research intends to understand the flexibility of children in word learning further using iPads. Children are shown pictures on the iPad while they hear words through a headphone. The pictures that the children choose in response to the words they hear will allow us to examine if children are flexible when learning new words.


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 a culturally and linguistically-specific language assessment tools for Malaysian. 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.


School of Psychology

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

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8767
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8018

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