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Professor in Psychology, University of Essex

My research interests are broad, and are strongly influenced by my education in Cognitive Psychology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psychological Research and subsequent neurobiological research at the Medical School of Washington University in St.Louis. My current research is best described as a mix of Cognitive (attention, perception, memory, etc), Differential (studying differences between individuals), and Educational Psychology (the psychology of learning processes). I am particularly interested in gender differences in thought and behaviour, the psychology of learning, as well as in meta-cognitive processes, such attention and executive control.

One of my aims is to understand and reduce performance gaps between boys and girls in school. For example, in international surveys, British boys fall behind in reading skills, and British girls in mathematics (this is the case in most countries). More research is necessary to be able to reduce these fairly persistent gaps, which limit children's career opportunities. This research is a good example of combining Differential and Cognitive Psychology.

In the past, I have gained much experience with a wide variety of extremely different laboratory measurement techniques (see my publications below). Currently, I use behavioral measures from my own lab as well as "secondary data", in particular those from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). The main academic aim of this research is to understand variation in human attitudes and cognition. The practical aim is to improve learning and education.

Most of my past and present research has been funded with grants from the ESRC, NIH, German Science Foundation (DFG), Max-Planck-Society, James S. McDonnell Foundation, British Academy, and Nuffield Foundation, and I would like to thank the funding organisations and collaborators for their support.


  • 2018–present
    Professor of Psychology, University of Essex


  • 1998 
    Ludwig Maximilians University, PhD (Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics)
  • 1993 
    University of Groningen, MA (Psychology)

Professional Memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • Psychonomic Society