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Personal profile


I completed my PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Plymouth University in 2015, under the supervision of Professor Simon Handley. My thesis explored Dual Processing and Belief-Bias effect in conditional reasoning. My research focused on the impact of cognitive load, individual differences and the role of inhibition and working memory on conditional reasoning. I evaluated my findings against traditional and newer dual processing models of reasoning. 

From 2015 to 2016 I worked as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth University. I conducted both qualitative and quantitative research on the UMbRELLA (UK Medical Revalidation Evaluation collaboration) project, under the supervision of the CAMERA (Collaboration for Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment) team. My research focus was on the decision making processes that Responsible Officers engaged when examining a doctor’s fitness to practise. The team was led by Dr Julian Archer MD and I worked closely with the Psychometrics department. 

I started a postdoctoral research fellow position, here at Macquarie University in August (2016), working with Professor Simon Handley on research into logical intuition and the boundaries of intuitive logic in reasoning. Eventually we hope to extend this research into the developmental domain of reasoning. 

I am working on various other projects with foundations in thinking, reasoning and decision making which have extending into the field of hypnosis; training and moral judgement. These projects require a variety of  research tools, such as hypnotic suggestion, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, eye-tracking and video games. 

Research interests

Cognitive psychology; thinking; reasoning; decision making; belief bias; intuitive logic; dual processing; parallel processing; reasoning development; working memory; inhibition; individual differences; hypnosis; suggestion; non-invasive brain stimulation; moral judgement; gaming; training. 



PSY 246 - Cognitive Processes

PSY 437 - Advanced Issues in Thinking and Reasoning

COGS202 - Cognitive Neuroscience - Decision Making  

COGS399 – Cognitive Science in the Real World – Cognitive Biases

Research student supervision

Honours supervision:

“Religiosity as a Conflict Detection Filter: Application of the Three-Stage Dual-Processing model”.

Masters Supervision:

“The bright homunculus in our head: The underlying mechanisms of intuitive sensitivity to logical validity”.

Co-Supervisor for visiting PhD scholar. Their work focused on machine learning, complexity and mathematical training.

Currently mentoring a PhD student, whose project is investigating the role of working memory in training on the Cognitive reflection test using eye tracking.  

Education/Academic qualification

Cognitive Psychology, PhD, University of Plymouth

1 Oct 20111 Oct 2014

Clinical Hypnosis, PG Diploma Clinical Hypnotherapy, London College of Clinical Hypnosis

30 Sep 2001

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Research Outputs

Measuring morality in videogames research

Ryan, M., Formosa, P., Howarth, S. & Staines, D., Mar 2020, In : Ethics and Information Technology. 22, 1, p. 55-68 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • The Great Fire

    Messer, J., Ryan, M., Formosa, P. & Howarth, S., 1 Nov 2019

    Research output: Non-traditional research outputOther Creative work

    The logic sense: exploring the role of executive functioning in belief and logic-based judgments

    Howarth, S., Handley, S. & Walsh, C., 2019, In : Thinking and Reasoning. 25, 4, p. 416-448 33 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • The development of Complex Emergent Modularity: a reply to Favela, Amon, & van Rooij (2018)

    Wastell, C. A., Purcell, Z., Howarth, S., Paterson, W. & Slocombe, B., 1 Aug 2018, In : Theory & Psychology. 28, 4, p. 568-571 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinion

  • Belief bias, base rates and moral judgment: re-evaluating the default interventionist dual process account

    Howarth, S. & Handley, S., 2017, The thinking mind: a festschrift for Ken Manktelow. Galbraith, N., Lucas, E. & Over, D. E. (eds.). London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, p. 83-97 15 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter