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Ian Tharp

Dr Ian Tharp BSc Hons, MSc, PhD

Ian Tharp

Dr Ian Tharp
BSc Hons, MSc, PhD

Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling

Faculty of Education & Health

Dr Ian Tharp is a Senior Lecturer for Psychology and Deputy Head of the Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling at the University of Greenwich.

Ian joined the university in 2010 and prior to becoming Deputy Head in 2016, has acted in various roles within the department including programme leader for MSc Psychology (Conversion) and Chair of the Departmental Research Ethics Panel and member of the Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

He lectures on various courses including Research Methods on the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, supervises undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD research students and is the project course coordinator for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Ian's interests span a broad area concerning individual differences, cognitive and biological psychology.



Posts held previously:

  • 2008-10, Research Fellow/Lecturer, Psychology Department, Goldsmiths University of London
  • Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
  • Programme leader Msc Psychology (Conversion)
  • Course coordinator for Research Methods 2; Introduction to Psychology; Advanced Statistical Methods
  • Chair of the Departmental Research Ethics Committee
  • Supervises BA Hons/MA degree research projects
  • Membership Officer, British Society for the Psychology of Individual Differences (BSPID)

Ian's general area of research concerns individual differences, particularly the interface of specific personality traits and aspects of cognition, emotion and motivation. For example, it has been suggested that the biological basis of certain core personality domains such as extraversion, may partially reflect variation in dopaminergic neurotransmission. Dopamine has been implicated in a variety of cognitive function including attention, memory and reward-dependent learning. It is therefore possible that predictable relationships between such personality domains and a range of cognitive processes may exist.

An additional area of interest concerns category-learning. The learning of novel categories appears to engage a variety of cognitive processes. Accordingly, recent research strongly suggests the differential involvement of distinct brain systems during such learning, dependent on the nature of the structure of the categories being learned. This paradigm offers a convenient method of exploring processes involved in categorisation, such as reinforcement-mediated learning, working-memory and selective attention. 

Ian continues to collaborate on research with colleagues Professor Alan Pickering and Dr Andrew Cooper from the Personality Affect Cognition Motivation and Neuroscience (PACMAN) Lab at Goldsmiths, as well as former lab member Dr Luke Smillie, University of Melbourne, Australia. Ongoing research includes exploring whether the effects of positive mood on cognition are dependent on appetitive ("e.g. wanting") components and examining different motivational factors that affect academic progression.

Merritt, C. J., Tharp, I. J. and Furnham, A. (2014). Trauma type affects recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among online respondents in the UK and Ireland. Journal of Affective Disorders, 164, pp. 123-129.

Merritt, C. and Tharp, I. J. (2013). Self-efficacy, personality and risk taking in parkour (free-running). Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 14(5), pp. 608-611.

Davidoff, J., Goldstein, J., Tharp, I. J., Wakui, E. and Fagot, J. (2012). Perceptual and categorical judgements of colour similarity. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 24(7), pp. 871-892.

Tharp I. J. and Pickering, A. D. (2011). Individual differences in cognitive flexibility: The influence of spontaneous eyeblink rate, trait psychoticism and working memory on attentional set-shifting. Brain and Cognition, 75(2), pp. 119-125.

Browse our publications database

Tharp I. J. (2015). The effect of goal orientation and working memory on perceptual category learning. [Poster]. 17th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID). 27-31 July, London, Ontario, Canada.

Tharp I. J., Schwencke, B., Cooper A. J., Smillie L. D. and Pickering A. D. (2012). Control of behaviour in response to non-reward during the extinction phase of a reinforcement learning task: Implications for frustrative non-reward and Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory. [Poster]. 4th Biennial Symposium on Personality and Social Psychology: Personality, Cognition, and Emotion, 13-16 August, Poland.

Tharp I. J., Cooper A. J., Smillie L. D. and Pickering A. D. (2011). Behavioural persistence during extinction: Implications for frustrative non-reward and reinforcement sensitivity theory. [Poster]. 15th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID), 25-28 July, London.

Browse our publications database