Experimental Psychology Laboratory

Presentation

The Experimental Psychology Laboratory is used for research activity by faculty members, research fellows, PhD students and technical staff. It is also used for didactics, offering students the possibility to perform experimental research, gain practical experience, develop papers and theses and collaborate with research projects. The activities of the laboratory allow for the practical application of theoretic concepts in specific areas and the learning of the methodological expertise needed to correctly plan and carry out research. The laboratory conducts research in the following areas:

  • risk perception
  • visual perception
  • the influence of emotions in decision-making processes
  • the patient-doctor relationship and continuing education

 

Non-funded research activity underway

1) The role of emotions in the decisions and risk behaviour of adolescents. Evolutive, affective and cognitive aspects of accident risk behaviour. This work combines the results of the latest research on risk behaviours of adolescents, with recent studies on the role of emotions in decision-making processes, and examines the influence of variables linked to individual characteristics (such as emotion control and risk propensity) on driving behaviour. It intends to evaluate if and how the relationship between risk perception and risk behaviours of adolescents in the context of driving is different from that of adults; and if and how socio-affective factors and individual psychosocial characteristics such as emotion control influence this relationship in adults and in adolescents.

 

2) Contour integration and contrast polarity. Five experiments were conducted to investigate the role of contrast polarity in the phenomenon of contour integration, through an optical geometric illusion. Results of the first three experiments were presented at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Science Society, 6-12 May 2011: "Selectivity for contrast polarity in contour integration revealed by a novel tilt illusion", by Guidi, Parlangeli and Roncato. The other two experiments were performed in order to respond to comments by two reviewers of the journal “Perception”; after presenting these results, it accepted to publish the article "Features of the selectivity for contrast polarity in contour integration as revealed by a novel tilt illusion". New experiments are currently being planned.

 

3) The aesthetics of composition and visual perception. Various experiments have been conducted to investigate the factors that determine how some geometric forms (circle, rectangle, line, triangle) are considered to “fit well” within a space defined by a rectangular frame. This study is being performed in collaboration with the Palmer Visual Perception Lab of the University of California, Berkeley.

Project “S.P.Acca – Stress and the Perception of Unethical Behaviours in the Academic Setting”

Stress at work not only influences the state of our health, but can also have repercussions on our “ethical reasoning”, favouring the enactment of behaviours that contradict our values. Contextual circumstances that can produce stress (such as job uncertainty, frequent socio-organisational changes, isolation at work, insufficient possibilities to manage operative procedures) may lead to a deterioration of cognitive and emotional resources and contribute to facilitating the causes that lead to the enactment of incorrect behaviours.

 

In the academic context, morality holds a particular importance and prominence for the pursuit of scientific research that is ethically sustainable. It is therefore important to verify the existence of a correlation between stress levels experienced by teaching staff, perceptions relative to the occurrence of unethical behaviour and the attributions of judgment regarding the seriousness of these behaviours.