Moral, Religious, Psychopathic, or just Human?

Science, increasingly, is answering questions which before only philosophers could attempt

Original article at British Humanist Association 07.07.2014

Why doesn’t Microsoft Word recognise the word ‘Neuropsychology?’ Maybe because it’s a rather new field, although people have been musing on the workings of the physical brain for a very long time indeed – don’t worry though, we’re not trepanning people anymore!

My interest is the moral brain, how humans – and other animals to some degree – draw the distinction between right and wrong to organise society. Some argue that moral standards are axiomatic and that moral compasses come from god. There actually seems to be some truth to this, in that some absolutist standards like Thou Shalt Not Kill or the Golden Rule seem to be very intuitive – as is the notion that you’re somehow a social pariah if you play World of Warcraft. A paper by Baumard and Boyer called “Explaining Moral Religions” shows just how universal this is. READ MORE HERE

*RESEARCH* Moral Reasoning – What Will You Do?

Sept 04 Posted by glencarrigan

I am a Masters by Research (MRES) student at the University of Central Lancashire under the supervision of Dr Lea Pilgrim, Dr Andrew Churchill, and Dr Mike Eslea. The following experiment asks you to fill in some basic demographic information, respond to a series of moral dilemmas and then complete a short questionnaire about personality traits. We anticipate this will take you approximately 25 minutes. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18. This study was ethically cleared by UCLan PSYSOC Ethics Committee under Reference Number: PSYSOC 159.

The dilemmas in some instances require you to make very difficult decisions which would involve the ‘death’ of hypothetical individuals described in the dilemma. Certain dilemmas also require you to make judgments on drug administration in a healthcare setting. Therefore we would advise that you do not participate if you think this may cause you distress. The personality questionnaire consists of over 60 questions that need to be answered honestly, and which look at how you feel about yourself, how you behave, and how you interact with others and the world around you such as: “I easily get bored.” You can withdraw your participation at any time by simply closing the browser window, after clicking the submit button withdrawal becomes impossible as your data will be anonymous.

The data we collect will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal and used in academic presentations and talks. You will not be able to be identified from the data due to its anonymity. Please feel free to contact the researchers with any questions.

* Survey Gimo Administrative note: The progress bar at the bottom of the screen is not a true reflection of how far through the survey you are. This is a bug that survey gizmo are aware of and is nothing to worry about. The survey itself still functions correctly.

If you are happy to proceed please indicate your willingness to do so, by clicking HERE.

Regards,Glen Andrew Carrigan, MBPsS | Senior Demonstrator | Bsc (Hons) Neuropsychology | Darwin Building 133 | Lea Pilgrim | Director of Studies |

*RESEARCH* Facial Recognition Research at UCLan

Jan 20 Posted by

Facial Recognition Research

Facial Recognition Research

Facial Recognition Research

Participants required!

Earn a £10 Love to Shop voucher for taking part in two Psychology studies at The University of Central Lancashire.

Would you like to take part in two pieces of research that contribute to the understanding of Face Recognition and Eye Witness memory?

This research will involve tasks such as learning faces and selecting faces from a lineup, as well as naming celebrity facial composites and attempting to name celebrities based on the description given. Te session will last approximately one hour.

If you would like to book a time slot or you would like further details, please contact Dr John Marsh at or Rachel Thorley at For background to this research click here.



*RESEARCH* Engaging the Public in Research at UCLan

UCLan astrophysics research

UCLan astrophysics research

Jan 15 Posted by

Would you be interested in taking part in real world academic research at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)? My name is Glen Carrigan, a Neuropsychology research assistant at UCLan and I am currently interested in seeing how many people would be interested in taking part in research as members of the public. We will be giving presentations around the UK in February and March with regards to how the public can become engaged in research and would love to speak to as many people as possible.

Briefly, we’re trying to set-up a serious, community participation centre for the public to take part in research at our institute in many different disciplines. There is a vision for an online portal for people to join so they can easily keep up to date with current research and take part by booking themselves into a study via a simple to use interface. There will be many laboratory based studies using our neuroimaging, audio perception and memory labs to name but a few! On top of this there will be many online studies to choose from and also the facility to visit participants at their convenience for particular research, so the opportunity is very much open to all interested parties, whatever their interests, location (you could even be in another country for the online studies!) or time commitments.

Neuroimaging Research. Image by Karl Hopkinson: http://www.photoPychopathology/

Neuroimaging Research. Image by Karl Hopkinson: http://www.photoPychopathology/

I would very much like to hear if you are interested in this opportunity and how many people you know who might potentially enjoy taking part in research too: individuals, schools, academic groups, community centres and so on. Our research areas are as diverse as they are interesting so there will be something for everyone. Your contributions to research really will make an impact in those areas that studies address and we really do value your time and commitment in helping us achieve new standards of research in collaboration with the wider public and indeed, for the benefit of us all. Please feel free to contact me with any questions by email and I will be more than happy to address them. Alternatively leave a comment in the comments section.

Glen Andrew Carrigan

Research Assistant, founder: JSOC 会長, Project Science & Reason The University of Central Lancashire Email:, Linkedin, @CarriganGlen

*RESEARCH* Reactive and Proactive Aggression

Oct 8 Posted by

Ethical approval: The UCLan PSYSOC Ethics Committee has approved the study: ‘Reactive and Proactive aggression: Factor Analysis of existing measures’. Unique Reference Number: PSYSOC  074_amendment.

Please Participate

My name is Rachel Schofield, I am a PHD student studying Forensic Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. My supervisor is Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan. I would be most grateful for help with my research, it would entail completing a questionnaire that should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. All participation is voluntary. My research is to explore Reactive and Proactive Aggression.

The purpose of the study is to investigate Reactive and Proactive Aggressive acts and Personality traits. Certain questions are of a sensitive nature such as aggressive acts and antisocial behaviour. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely.

All questions are for research purposes only and all answers are completely confidential.  The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationship between aggression and personality traits. The types of aggression are; emotionally driven (Reactive) and goal driven (Proactive). Questions will include your engagement in antisocial behaviour/acts – some of which are criminal offences; therefore some questions are of a sensitive nature. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely.  Please DO NOT write your name on the questionnaire as all answers are anonymous. Only group data will be used for this research and therefore no one can be identified by what they have written. You may withdraw from the study at any time up until your questionnaire is submitted. Upon completion of the questionnaire contact details for the researchers and sources of support will be provided.

If you are interested in participating please CLICK HERE

Thank you for your time and your participation is greatly appreciated.

Researcher: Rachel Schofield: Email

Supervisor: Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan: University of Central Lancashire



*RESEARCH* Twitter, intervention, the NHS and Equal Marriage: Moral Intuition and Reasoning in relation to different types of Moral Problem

Glen Carrigan Moral Psychology

Think about what is happening in the world today. Should the West intervene in Syria and Eqypt, Is whistle blowing in the NHS safe for the employee, was it right to pass the Equal Marriage bill in the UK, and should twitter take legal responsibility for it’s platform? Each of these prominent questions includes a clear moral aspect, as do many of our day to day decisions. How do you think you would fare when being faced with specifically, life or death decisions?

The following experiment asks you to fill in some basic demographic information (gender and age), then respond to a series of ethical dilemma scenarios. We anticipate this will take you approximately 10 minutes, probably even less. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18.

The ethical dilemmas in some instances require you to make very difficult decisions which would involve the ‘death’ of an individual or individuals described in the scenario. Therefore we would advise that you do not participate if you think this may cause you distress. You can also withdraw your participation at any time by simply closing the browser window. The moral dilemmas are however used frequently in research on ethical decision making and we would anticipate they would not cause you undue distress.

Should you decide to take part your participation is anonymous. This means therefore you would be unable to withdraw your data at a later stage should you wish.

The data we collect will be submitted for publication with a journal and used in presentations/talks, etc. You will not be able to be identified from the data however due to its anonymity.

If you are happy to proceed please indicate your willingness to do so, by clicking below.

Click here to participate



Social and Cultural Factors in Eating Disorders: The Apprentice to Kim Kardashian

Social and Cultural factors have long been blamed for the development of eating disorders in females and also more recently in males too. Do shows like The Apprentice in 2013 with pretty much only fit, slim attractive women and highly publicised women like Kim Kardashian cater to this perfect body ideal, or is there more to it than just media portrayal? In order to evaluate the socio-cultural model of eating disorders (EDs) it is first essential that a definition of an ED be provided and an explanation of the socio-cultural model given. Following this the model shall be broken down into its three component parts in order to indicate the importance of those areas within the concept and the validity of the model as a whole. Read the rest of this entry

Serial killer elephants; psychology and the animal

An elephant I photographed in Kenya 2008

A documentary on channel 5 highlights problems including abnormal behavioural psychology in male Bull elephants in India. The elephant, normally docile and grand appearing to slowly lumber around impressive in it’s sheer presence, I remember seeing them when I worked in Kenya. Elephants can apparently become less of a grand, gentle herbivore of the plains and more of a serial killer at the mercy of their own psychology. Researchers in an Indian reserve came across multiple corpses of male and female elephants and after finding that there was no disease present, no poaching or any other cause of death concluded that other Bull elephants had murdered them.

The behaviour of these elephants seems to have been due to a number of factors. Initially it was assumed that sexual frustration (one was observed masturbating) was driving the elephants to kill their prospective partners until a male was found dead. They continued to suspect this, however,  knowing that males can and do kill each other (although rarely) due to testosterone levels that can be up to 60 times greater in an elephant in musk (mating season). They also reviewed evidence from a historical case where elephants in musk killed their females and also attempted to rape Rhinos before killing them. Read the rest of this entry


*RESEARCH* Please participate in our study.

Advertisement of the charities and institues we are affiliated with

Advertisement of the charities and institues we are affiliated with

Research into the subject of Muscle Dysmorphia is greatly lacking and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you will notice I care greatly about things of this nature. This research is a bonafide psychological study at The University of Central Lahcashire. The survey will take around 22 minutes and will add to an area of research at the forefront of modern socio/psychological research and governmental concern with regards to the health of many people in our societies.

The current study will assess group differences in executive functioning and exercise addiction in males and females, with and without symptoms of muscle dysmorphia (MD).  Variables known to influence both executive functioning and the development of MD will be controlled for (age, Body Mass Index, sexual orientation, depression, certain medications and substances (e.g., anti-depressants), dieting and fluid intelligence.

This study has been ethically approved by The Psychology department of  The University of Central Lancashire.

Contacts: Glen Andrew Carrigan(BPS member, REPS, SEED)
or Dr Noreen Caswell, (BSc., MSc., PhD., CPsychol, FHEA, HPC),

Click here to participate: Executive functioning and exercise addiction in males and females with symptoms of muscle dysmorphia




For any coaches or athletes I am contacting you on behalf of Dr Vaithehy Shanmugam, School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, in collaboration with Dr Sophia Jowett , School of Sport, Exercise and Health, Loughborough University, who are conducting a study examining the links between interpersonal relationships,

well-being and eating attitudes in sport.  The study will include the completion of a questionnaire which assesses coach-athlete interactions, perfectionism, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, exercise and eating attitudes and behaviour.  I am contacting you to ask whether you could forward on details of my study to all your athletes aged 18 and above or complete the questionniare if you are one. The questionnaire can be completed via this weblink

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or the principal investigator, Dr Vaithehy Shanmugam, via the details below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hopefully will hear from you soon.

Glen Andrew Carrigan

Dr Vaithehy Shanmugam;


Teaching Psychology to Children

Evaluating two paradigms of education: passive and active learners.

This post relates to my position as a Junior University Officer in the Aim Higher and advancement department at UCLan. This is all part and parcel of my journey, from Soldier to Scientist and another of my activities in public engagement in Science. We even got a visit from the Queen who officially opened the project last year which the kids loved. In this position it was my responsibility to mentor and educate children under the age of 16 on the project as to the nature and importance of higher education in their future. It was my specific responsibility to deliver workshops on Psychology for which I provided many lectures based on the degree level major psychology route year 1, however, adjusted to be more age appropriate. I was also chuffed to bits when I also won an award for my classes! The title of this essay relates to my experience in that post in that I identified two teaching and learning methods derived from the constructivist and behaviourist approaches which will be explored further. READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY.



Does God make us ignorant?

One of the most interesting and perplexing things I have ever come across in life is the notion of religion.  Those groups of people who seem to vie for control as to one monotheistic belief. Who says belief is intrinsically valuable anyway? The advocates of it, that’s who those who pick and choose to highlight only those parts of their religious laws that are positive in the light of the general populace and gloss over all the horrendous parts. Now I’m not saying all kinds of belief are a bad thing, quite the opposite actually. Belief in oneself is valuable as it motivates us to strive to better ourselves and belief in a tangible just cause may also have merit. The type of belief I think harms us as a species is the one where people choose to believe something just because they believe in the face of evidence, claim that they are the victims of prejudice just because others don’t hold their beliefs, use it as an excuse to make war and seek to keep man rooted in the past using the old “it has always been so it shall always be thus” argument… Gods.

Now I’m not about to debate the existence of God because such a conjuration of the mind is something I cannot prove either way, I might as well debate the existence of Middle Earth as being somewhere other than in Tolkien’s mind (although isn’t Middle Earth somewhere near New Zealand…..) and in any case religion will always win this argument using logical fallacy and the principle of the ultimate regress (God came first and that’s an end of it). I am just going to illustrate that believing in one can have effects that you maybe wouldn’t realise at first glance by looking at Atheism, religious belief, intelligence, and social/economic geography.

Just to clarify  an Atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in God and ⁄ or finds the very concept of God meaningless or incoherent (Baggini 2003). Atheists are not by default prejudice just because they don’t entertain the belief systems of other groups. I’m a skeptic and an atheist and as such will convert for evidence. Read the rest of the post here


Glen Carrigan 2011

Body image, a weighty issue for men.

The Central YMCA (where my fitness qualifications came from) recently found that body image issues are no longer the province of women alone. Increasingly men are feeling anxious about for example a lack of muscle and their “beer belly”. In addition us men are actually expressing our feelings to eachother nowadays which goes against the stereotypical Alpha male persona which can be a good thing but also a burden at times.

The University of West England’s appearance research department asked 384 British men with an average age of 40 years their opinions on their appearance. A huge 60% of respondants thought their arms, chest and stomachs weren’t muscular enough and 1 in 5 men reported that they were on a high protein diet. 35% of participants said they would give up a whole year of their lives to attain their ideal body.

Thought’s that come to mind quite readily here are that men seem to be alot more body concious in today’s society. Blame what you will for that, media representations of the ideal, perceived expectations of the opposite sex, and many more catalysts to why people critique their bodies. Might it be true to say that pride and a sense of self worth might drive those of us who seek to be better physically? I think so. Whilst there is a wealth of research out there that reports exercise and a balanced diet is good for us we cannot over look the fact that such practices when they border on the obsessive may give rise to eating disorders for example as an obligatory exercise routine is often a factor of an eating disorder (Lepage, Price & O’Neal 2012). However a good diet and regular exercise do more good than bad, just be aware of what you’re doing and more importantly why you’re doing it….. for yourself. It is one of my great hopes for this country that if more people watched what they ate and exercised regularly we could lessen the impact of the obesity epidemic apparent in this country at the moment which takes a vicious toll on the NHS of 1.9 – 2 billion GPB a year.

Eating disorders and health issues asside it shouldn’t be a problem that men are becoming more in touch with their body image so long as it doesn’t cause us to brood over it and become unhealthy to the point of self destruction. Eat healthy, stay physically and mentally active and you should be fine!

BBC News for the full story


Breast image

Just incase you forgot what they were

Breast size and self image.

Nature has sculpted us into a species that appreciates the physical form and so we should there is so much beauty in it. A friend of mine, a fellow ex-soldier recently started a company catering to women in the larger bust category DD+ and that got me thinking about women and their self-image issues. A previous post discussed the issues of self image in men and so this one will briefly address the same with regards to figure and particularly breast size in women.

For current image based psychological research see our research page

Evolution is a sort of predicator of what people find attractive, what a man will find attractive in a woman and also what a woman will envy about other women. Historically the young were married off for their ability to bear children and bigger hips and breasts were associated with the ability to bear and rear young successfully. Men today for example seem to think large breasts are an advantage as generally they seem to regard medium to larger breasts and a smaller hip to waist ratio as more attractive (Zelazniewicz & Pawlowski, 2011) although this does differ across cultures (Dixon et al 2011). The media also presents the opinion through many outlets that to have larger breasts is a benefit (Harrison 2003) although in my eyes Kiera Knightley is one of the most gorgeous women to ever live, is very successful in the eyes of the media and also very flat chested. It is also interesting to see that lots of women having a greater level of perceived breast development also had lower self-esteem and higher levels of depressive symptoms. This could suggest that the pop culture view for larger breasts and slimmer waist is correct or that it distorts women’s views of themselves or perhaps that women also identify with the same standards of what is attractive as men do and are less confident in themselves if they do not possess those attributes, increasingly opting for surgery as method of correction (Harcourt et al 2011). This is debatable though as everyone finds different people attractive to a greater or lesser extent.

The main point in this little post is that like it or not self-image plays a large part in the lives of women (and men) and breasts are an important factor in that image. Large or small they’re fine the way they are and for those women out there with larger breasts they might feel they’re a curse and a blessing. For those ladies I would recommend that you talk to my good friend of many years in and out of the Army Leonie Wooster, who is starting up the business mentioned previously that caters specifically for you at Leonie Loves.

Harcourt, D., Hughes, J., Diba, R., Simth, R., Nduka, C (2012). Looking ‘the same’: Experiences of women who have had corrective surgery for breast asymmetry. J Health Psychology. doi: 10.1177/1359105312436766

Harrison, K. (2003). Television viewers’ ideal body proportions: The case of the curvaceously thin woman. Sex Roles, 48, 255–264.

 Dixson, B. J., Vasey, P. L., Sagato, K., Sibanda, N., Linklater,W. L., & Dixson,A. F. (2011). Male preferences for female breastmorphology in New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1271–1279.

 Zelazniewicz, A. M., & Pawlowski, B. (2011). Female breast size attractiveness formenas a function of sociosexual orientation (restricted vs. unrestricted). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1129–1135.


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