Differential Psychology explores the ways in which people differ from one another, alongside their measurement, causes and consequences.
World leading work in Edinburgh focuses on a broad range of topics, including lifelong personality development, measurement and links with important life outcomes; cognitive abilities (intelligence) alongside their change (including ageing) and links with life outcomes; psychopathology; primate psychology; and positive psychology.
Research is published in prestigious journals, often in collaboration with graduate students.
The work involves a wide range of techniques, including reanalysing data from existing large databases, large-scale data collections, multinational collaborations and advanced statistical modelling. Graduate students can take part in vibrant journal clubs and join a large research community with links across many countries.
Current research topics of interest
|Timothy Bates||Attainment and competence: intelligence (and motivation), conscientiousness (and management), models of goals and motivation, skill acquisition, mindsets, education interventions, genetics, SAT, Scottish or other educational performance indicators and their causes; explaining differences in social policy such as support for redistribution by adaptations of mutualism/cooperation, studies in fair divisions, as well as utilitarian and instrumental harm motives, Baumard’s notion of mutualism (using our new scale to measure this).|
|Wendy Johnson||Individual differences: structure of intelligence and personality, life-span development of intelligence and personality, health and aging, genetic and environmental transactions and their influence on behaviour, intelligence, and personality.|
|Michelle Luciano||Reading and language skills / dyslexia; behaviour genetics.|
|Rene Mottus||The measurement, development and utility of narrow personality traits (personality facets and nuances); personalised personality measurement (experience sampling).|
|Simon Cox||Brain's structural connectome with respect to cognitive function, health, and genes|
|W. David Hill||Genetic analysis of psychological traits using UK Biobank and other data sets: projects could include the use of polygenic risk scores, Mendelian randomisation, GWAS, and rare variant analysis; genetic analysis of socioeconomic status traits using UK Biobank and other data sets: rojects could include the use of polygenic risk scores, Mendelian randomisation, GWAS, and rare variant analysis.|
|Tom Booth*||Individual Differences, Health & Quantitative Methods.|
|Aja Murray*||Developmental aspects of mental health phenotypes and their comorbidity: in particular, ADHD, autism, and conduct problems; quantitative methodology.|
|Caroline Watt*||Replication and methodological issues in parapsychology.|
|Alexander Weiss*||Personality and subjective well-being in humans, nonhuman primates, and other animals; the evolution of personality and subjective well-being; ageing and development; behaviour genetics; differential epidemiology; quantitative methods.|
* Staff member is not accepting new PhD students for 2022 entry.
Recent/current PhD topics in this area
- Human personality traits: measurement, development, genetic and environmental causes, and real-life consequences
- Psychopathology in youth and adults (depression, autism, ADHD, dyslexia)
- Causes and consequences of intelligence
- Primate behaviour and personality traits
- Positive psychology
- Paranormal beliefs
For further information contact the Programme Secretary, Henry Barnett at the Postgraduate Office.
To discuss academic matters, contact the Programme Director, Rene Mottus.