Psychological Sciences and Health - Brain

NewsTwo new professorial appointments in the School of Psychology & Health

The School of Psychological Sciences & Health are delighted to welcome two new Global Talent Attraction Platform (GTAP) Professorial Appointments within the school. 

Building on his track record for qualitative and mixed methods research, Professor Paul Flowers was recently appointed as a GTAP Professor within the school. Paul is particularly interested in methods of improving health interventions by combining insights from behaviour change, implementation science, and systems perspectives. He currently has a portfolio of interdisciplinary awards that explore these issues in a series of innovative health areas, mostly within the infectious disease and drug treatment fields. These include for example, understanding insights from the implementation of PrEP as a major news means of HIV prevention across Scotland (PrEP is a pill that is taken once a day by people to avoid HIV transmission), the roll out of direct acting antivirals to drug users to eliminate Hepatitis C at the population level, or detailing transferable insights into the development and implementation of the UK's first heroin assisted treatment service. 

Paul also has international awards examining issues of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Australia and the provision of online sexual health services in British Columbia. Most recently, with colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian University and University College London, Paul has been awarded an NIHR five year programme grant 'Improving care for people with sexually transmitted infections within a digital NHS' in which Paul leads work packages relating to qualitative methods, intervention optimisation, and stakeholder engagement.

Paul has various editorial roles for several health journals including being Associate Editor of both the 'British Journal of Health Psychology' and 'Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine'. Paul has also worked in relation to making public health guidance and policy, for example, helping with Scottish Health Protection Network's 'Good Practice Guideline on HIV Prevention in Men who have Sex with Men (MSM)' and currently co-chairing a group making recommendations on behavioural interventions to reduce AMR as part of the UK's new AMR strategy.

Professor Ben Jones was appointed as a GTAP Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences & Health. Ben investigates the effects of physical appearance on person perception (i.e. how facial, body and vocal cues influence the first impressions we spontaneously form about other people) and how those influence social outcomes, such as romantic partner choice, hiring and voting decisions, and cooperation. Ben recently completed a five year ERC-funded project investigating how changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur over the menstrual cycle or following hormonal contraceptive use, influence heterosexual women's sexual desire and judgements of men's attractiveness. The results of this project, which involved tracking 600 young women's desires and mate preferences over several months, challenged the common assumption that these hormonal changes dictate the extent to which women are attracted to masculine men as short-term sexual partners. 

Ben is currently leading an international project involving over 200 researchers from all continents to establish how the links between facial appearance and first impressions differ between cultures. This project is the first to be run by the Psychological Science Accelerator, a distributed network of research groups who conduct democratically selected large scale studies to address the focus on European and North American participants' behaviours in psychological research.

In summer 2020, Ben will start a new three year EPSRC-funded project to investigate the effects of gender-based stereotypes on interactions with conversational agents (dialogue systems that respond automatically using human language), in collaboration with researchers at Heriot-Watt (Computer Science) and Edinburgh (Education). The goal of this project is to create conversational agents that do not reinforce potentially harmful gendered stereotypes.