Dr Stuart Wilson
Lecturer in Psychology,
Telephone: +44 (0)131 474 0000
I joined QMU in 2002, having completed a PhD at University of Edinburgh. Prior to this I completed a MSc (also from University of Edinburgh) and an MA (Hons) degree from University of Glasgow
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I am increasingly interested in the adaptive function of cognition, particularly memory systems. As well as being interested in this topic for its own sake, I am also interested in the role that cognition has in giving rise to cultural concepts and beliefs (e.g. "religious" beliefs and practices; superstitious/paranormal beliefs and practices).
I also have an interest in conceptual and philosophical issues, such as consciousness and the mind-body problem, philosophy of science and epistemology in psychology.
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Current / Recent Research Projects
Most research on memory has focussed on memory processes (e.g. that semantically encoded information is better remembered) and memory structures (e.g. the long-term/short-term distinction), it is only relatively recently that researchers have attempted to understand why memory may have evolved to function in the way that it does. My current research with Steve Darling (QMU) attempts to understand the adaptive function of memory.
Religion, Cognition and Society
Religion is ubiquitous, but what is it about human minds that allow us to have religious beliefs? Is it merely an accident of having the brains and minds that we do or do these beliefs have any benefit, to either the individual or to the group to which the individual belongs? I am interested in both the cognitive "nuts and bolts" that allow religious beliefs to exist, and in the effects that such beliefs have. A current project involves investigating religion's role (or otherwise) in forgiving others.
Paranormal and Superstitious Beliefs
Many people touch wood, or have a lucky mascot. Some people believe in “negative” and “positive” energy that can influence them in various ways. Are these just cultural affectations, handed down through the generations, or do people genuinely believe they make a difference? If the latter, then what are the psychological building blocks of such beliefs? Do they reflect "faulty" thinking, or are they indicative of the way that human minds work more generally?
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Teaching and Administration
I am involved with teaching at all levels, and teach mainly on research methods, statistics and cognitive psychology. I have developed and delivered a number of modules.
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Wilson, S. and Maclean, R. (2011) – Research Methods and Data Analysis for Psychology (London: McGraw-Hill Education).
Accompanying book website
Wilson, S. (in press). Vitalistic thinking in adults. British Journal of Psychology
Wilson, S ., Darling, S., & Sykes, J. (2011). Adaptive memory: Fitness relevant stimuli show a memory advantage in a game of pelmanism. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 781-786
Wilson, S . (2010) The naturalness of weird beliefs. The Psychologist, 23 (7), 565-567.
Wilson, S and Hamlin, I. (2007) Implicit Learning in a Card Prediction Task. European Journal of Parapsychology, 221, 3 – 29.
Wilson, S ., Morris, R.L., Pronto, E. and Tilopoulous, N. (2005) Psi and associative processes. Journal of Parapsychology, 68, 129-155..
Sherwood, S.J., Roe, C.A., Holt, N.J., & Wilson, S (2005) Interpersonal psi: Exploring the role of the experimenter and the experimental climate in a Ganzfeld telepathy task. European Journal of Parapsychology, 202, 150-172
Wilson, S (2002) Psi, perception without awareness and False Recognition. Journal of Parapsychology, 66 (3) 271-291.
Wilson, S. (2009)Implicit Learning in a Card Prediction Task. Paper presented as part of the "Anomalistic Psychology" symposium, BPS Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology Conference, St Anne's College, University of Oxford.
Wilson, S. & Hamlin I (2004). Implicit Learning and Parapsychology. Abstract Presented at the 4th Bial Symposium: Behind and Beyond the Brain. Porto, Portugal.
Wilson, S. and Morris, R.L (2002). Psi, perception without awareness and false recognition. Paper presented at the 45 th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association, Paris, France.
Wilson, S. (2002). Psi and the Cognitive Unconscious. Poster presented at the 3 rd Bial Symposium: Behind and Beyond the Brain. Porto, Portugal.
Wilson, S. (2001) Psi and perception without awareness. Paper presented at the Society for Psychical Research 25 th International Conference, Clare College, University of Cambridge.
Wilson, S. (2001) Psi, word association and auditory perception without awareness. Paper presented at the Postgraduate Seminar Programme, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh.
Wilson, S., Morris, R.L. and Pronto, E. (2000). Psi and associative processes. Paper presented at the Society for Psychical Research 24 th International Conference, University College Northampton.
Wilson, S. (1999). Psi and the Cognitive Unconscious: New Comparisons. Paper presented at the Postgraduate Seminar Programme, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh.
2003 Program Chair - Parapsychological Association 46 th Annual Convention, Vancouver, Canada.
2005 Guest speaker on State University of New York: Geneseo’s “The Sociology of Science and the Paranormal” summer school (hosted by University of Edinburgh )
- Bial Foundation – Implicit Learning and Parapsychology: £33,000.
Professional Membership and Activities
- Chartered Psychologist in the British Psychological Society (BPS)
- Member of the Association for Psychological Science
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