Margaret Floy Washburn

Margaret Floy WashburnMargaret Floy Washburn was an early 20th century psychologist who conducted extensive research on animal behaviour and motor development. She was the first woman to earn a PhD in psychology.

Washburn was born in New York City on 25 July 1871. She began college at the age of 16 and soon became a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. When she graduated from Vassar in 1891, she wanted to study at Columbia University. At that time, women weren’t generally permitted in graduate programmes; Washburn was permitted to sit in on classes at Columbia as an observer. She went on to attend the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University to work with experimental psychologist E.B. Titchener, who founded the theory of psychological structuralism. Washburn was responsible for all experiments and research. She earned her master’s degree in 1893, and one year later, she made history as the first woman to earn a PhD in psychology.

She spent six years teaching psychology, ethics, and philosophy at Wells College for women, two years as warden at Sage College for women, and one year leading the psychology department at the University of Cincinnati. Ultimately, Washburn returned to Vassar in 1903 as an associate professor in psychology. She advanced to professor of psychology in 1908, and she remained there until a stroke necessitated her retirement in 1937. Washburn was active in the American Psychological Association, and she served as president for the association in 1921. She was also a member of the National Research Council and the second woman to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Washburn died in 1939.

As one of the earliest women to enter the field of psychology, Washburn served as evidence that women could effectively contribute to the field. She extensively studied animal behaviour and argued that animals’ mental states should be studied alongside their behaviour. She outlined these arguments in her 1908 book, The Animal Mind. The book was widely popular and heavily researched, outlining numerous experiments in animal psychology, consciousness, and behaviour. Unlike some of her contemporaries, who focused primarily on rodents, Washburn examined the behaviour of over 100 different animal species.

Washburn was interested in learning how mental states could be revealed through visible behaviours, and this led to intensive study of motor development. She argued that conscious thought was evident in behaviour; in other words, all mental functions produce physical reactions. Her book Movement and Mental Imagery introduced her theory regarding the correlation between mental processes and motor skills. Similarly, Washburn believed that psychology should include the study of behaviour and consciousness—a radical notion that blended two popular schools of thought on psychology at the time: introspectionism and behaviourism. She wrote more than a hundred scholarly articles on topics including memory, experimental psychology, animal behaviour and psychology, consciousness, spatial reasoning and individual differences in behaviour.

Unlike many psychologists of her time, Washburn rejected much of psychodynamic theory, arguing that it was too speculative. Instead, she embraced elements of functionalism, gestalt psychology, and behaviourism, though her work in animal cognition undermined some tenets of traditional behaviourism.

Credits to GoodTherapy

Published: 24 October 2014

Last update: 04 April 2015


Stephen Porter

Stephen PorterStephen Porter received his PhD in forensic psychology at University of British Columbia and currently is a researcher and consultant in the area of psychology and law. After working as a prison psychologist, Porter spent a decade as a professor at Dalhousie University. In 2009, he transferred to UBC Okanagan, where he assumed a position as a professor of psychology and the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science & Law (CAPSL).  Porter has published numerous scholarly articles on psychopathy and violent behaviour, deception detection, and forensic aspects of memory with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). As a registered forensic psychologist in British Columbia, Porter is frequently consulted by Canadian courts and has been qualified as an expert witness in various areas, including “dangerousness and risk for violence” and “memory and the factors involved in credibility assessments”. He has been consulted by police in serious crime investigations and provides training in deception detection and psychopathy to law enforcement, mental health professional groups, government agencies, journalists, trial judges, and other adjudicators. He proudly hails from Deer Lake, NL.

Recent awards include an operating grant (2010-2013) from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a discovery grant (2010-2015) from the Natural Sciences and Engineer Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Porter was named the 2013 UBC Okanagan Researcher of the Year, an award that recognises a faculty member who has made a significant contribution to research during their time at the University. The Porter Lab was also awarded the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leader’s Opportunity Fund (2010). Porter is a co-author (with Lawrence Wrightsman) of the textbook Forensic Psychology: A Canadian Perspective (Thomson Nelson), second edition released in 2013.

His research is focused on diverse topics within the general field of law and psychology. Along with his students, Porter conduct research in both field and controlled (experimental) settings reflecting his observation that the most complete psychological knowledge can be generated by converging findings from controlled and naturalistic settings. His current research can be subsumed under three main headings: (1) criminal psychopathy (2) forensic aspects of memory (e.g., trauma, eyewitness memory) and (3) credibility assessment/deception detection.

Credits to Porter Forensic Psychology Lab

Published: 16 July 2014

Last update: 23 April 2015


John Aggleton

John AggletonJohn Aggleton is a professor at Cardiff University. His research examines how brain regions interact to support different forms of memory.  This systems level analysis of memory is ultimately concerned with understanding the human brain, and so includes clinical studies of people with memory problems, e.g. amnesia.  A major part of his work, however, involves animal models of amnesic conditions. An integral part of this endeavour is to compare and contrast different forms of memory, e.g. the recall of day-to-day events versus the recognition of events, along with the brain systems that appear to support these forms of memory.  A particular goal is to relate the amnesias associated with damage to different regions of the brain, and to test various models that explain their similarities and differences.

At present, Aggleton serves as the module leader for the Year 2 course on Abnormal Psychology (PS2008) at Cardiff. He also lectures on a Year 3 module that examines the neuropsychology of memory (Memory Processes and Memory Disorders, PS3208).

Aggleton holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Cambridge and DPhil from University of Oxford.

His recent publications include:

Aggleton, J. P., Saunders, R. C., Wright, N. F. and Vann, S. D. (2014). The origin of projections from the posterior cingulate and retrosplenial cortices to the anterior, medial dorsal and laterodorsal thalamic nuclei of macaque monkeysEuropean Journal of Neuroscience, 39(1), 107-123. (10.1111/ejn.12389) pdf

Dumont, J. R., Amin, E. and Aggleton, J. P. (2014). Selective importance of the rat anterior thalamic nuclei for configural learning involving distal spatial cuesEuropean Journal of Neuroscience, 39(2), 241-256. (10.1111/ejn.12409) pdf

Hindley, E., Nelson, A. J. D., Aggleton, J. P. and Vann, S. D. (2014). Dysgranular retrosplenial cortex lesions in rats disrupt cross-modal object recognitionLearning & Memory, 21(3), 171-179. (10.1101/lm.032516.113) pdf

Credits to: Cardiff University

Published: 30 June 2014

Last update: 23 April 2015


John Done


John DoneJohn Done is a lecturer at University of Hertfordshire research with particular interest in psychosis.  Appointed as the University’s Health Research Co-ordinator  in the 1990’s , Done was also given the  task of developing the university’s health research base. This included creating research excellence within the university as well as collaborations with  NHS clinicians. As such  Done broadened his own research profile to include health services research and apply his epidemiological expertise , particularly with cohort based studies, to  chronic health care problems other than psychosis , particularly rheumatoid arthritis and renal disease. He set up two research centres at UH –the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care ( CRIPACC ) and the Centre for Life Span and Chronic Illnesses (CLiCIR) and with the NHS Trusts in Hertfordshire Done and his colleagues have established one of the UK’s first university-based R&D advisory services with a contract to support  NHS R&D.

His main research interests involve thinking in people with schizophrenia/psychosis using cognitive theory of intentions, causal attribution, belief,  perception , memory, and reasoning. Currently my focus is on reasoning by patients with delusions and whether errors of reasoning match those found in stroke patients who manifest confabulation or anosognosia.

He currently teaches on a clinical psychology option on the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and supervise PhD and D.Clin Psy students whose research is in mental health. Done has previously been the Research Tutor on the D.Clin Psy course.

His recent publications include:

  • Negative and positive illness representations of rheumatoid arthritis: a latent profile analysis
    Norton, S., Hughes, L. D., Chilcot, J., Sacker, A., van Os, S., Young, A. & Done, J. Jun 2014 In : Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 37, 3, p. 524-532
  • Risk of adult schizophrenia and its relationship to childhood IQ in the 1958 British birth cohort.
    Schulz, J., Sundin, J., Leask, S. K. & Done, J. 2014 In : Schizophrenia Bulletin. 40, 1, p. 143-51 9 p.

Credits to University of Hertfordshire

Published: 12 June 2014

Last update: 23 April 2015


Lia Kvavilashvili

Lia KvavilashviliLia Kvavilashvili’s research sheds light on memory processes in a variety of everyday contexts. For example, how do we remember to take a medication or keep an appointment (prospective memory); why do certain memories, words or tunes pop into our mind unexpectedly (involuntary memories) or repeatedly (intrusive memories); or how do we remember emotionally arousing and significant events (flashbulb memories)? She also studies the developmental aspects of these memory processes in children and old age, as well as their manifestation in various clinical conditions (e.g., schizophrenia, depression).

Her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology were both obtained in Tbilisi, Georgia (former Soviet Union) at Tbilisi State University and Uznadze Institute of Psychology, respectively. In 1993, she came to UK as a Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellow to work with Judi Ellis at the University of Wales College of Cardiff.  She joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, in the capacity of Independent Research Fellow, in 1995.

To learn more about her research or to participate in her experiments, feel free to visit her website.

Credits to Lia Kvavilashvili.

Published: 07 March 2014

Last update: 04 April 2015