Associate Professor Stephanie Goodhew

PhD
Associate Professor
College of Health & Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Psychology 1701
  • Cognitive And Computational Psychology 5204

Research interests

Research interests

Key research interest: Subjective cognitive failures and objective performance

To err is human: we all make mistakes in everyday life. Sometimes such everyday cognitive slips and lapses have relatively trivial consequences, such as the inconvenience of missing a forgotten-about appointment. But other times, such cognitive failures can have profound consequences, such as failing to notice a safety-critical sign by the side of the road resulting in a car crash. While everyone succumbs to cognitive failures, there are clear and meaningful individual differences in the frequency with which they are experienced. One measure that has a long and illustrious history of measuring these differences is the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ).

CFQ scores are related to a host of important real-world outcomes, such as a person’s risk of being responsible for a car crash or work accident. I have an ongoing program of research investigating the mechanisms underlying cognitive failures, and assessing the convergences and divergences between people’s subjective experiences of cognitive failures and their objective performance on important cognitive tasks.

Key research interest: Understanding the mechanisms of safe driving in older adults

Older adult drivers are at increased risk of road fatalities compared with other adult drivers. But driving represents an important way for older adults to maintain their independence and well-being. Therefore, I am interested in identifying the cognitive processes that are critical to safe driving, and developing training programs that can be used to improve older adult driving safety.

Key research interest: Attentional breadth and dynamic rescaling of attentional focus

In many real-world visual tasks, the spatial extent of one’s focus of attention is important. For example, when driving a car, reading the speedometer requires a narrow focus of attention, whereas monitoring for other traffic requires a broad focus. It is therefore important to be able to quickly rescale attention. I am interested in the mechanisms of dynamic rescaling of visual attentional focus, including identifying individual differences in this process, as well as testing whether resizing efficiency can be improved via training.

Key research interest: Empathy

Empathy is a multifactorial process, consisting of at least two dissociable processes: affective empathy (i.e., feeling what others are feeling, with the knowledge of the source of the emotion), and cognitive empathy (taking another person’s perspective, to understand their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs). I am interested in how the different components of empathy interact to determine a person’s actions (e.g., whether and how they help others), and I am also interested in the role of domain-general cognitive processes such as attentional control and working memory in cognitive empathy.

Key research interest: Emotion, anxiety, and attentional control

I am interested in the interplay between stimuli of emotional significance and visual attention, and how individual differences (e.g., in trait anxiety and social anxiety) moderate this interplay. I am also interested in understanding the role of attentional control more broadly (not limited to emotionally-salient stimuli) in anxiety.

Key research interest: Low prevalence visual search

 Humans are very likely to miss visual search targets when they are rare (i.e., low prevalence). This has important implications for real-world professional visual search tasks, such as diagnostic medical imaging and airport baggage security screening – which are characterised by rare targets, plus dire consequences of missing targets (e.g., tumour in a scan, weapon in a bag).  

This detrimental effect of low target prevalence on visual search accuracy is observed even in trained professionals in real world settings, including cytologists involved in cervical cancer screening searching for abnormal cells in radiological images, radiologists examining breast-cancer screening images, and newly-trained transport security officers searching through simulated bag images.

Given the critical real-world implications of rare target visual search, I am interested in understanding the role of cognitive factors and individual differences as means of improving the accuracy of rare target visual search.

Key Research Interest: Migraine 

Migraine affects about 1 in 7 people, but about half of those do not know that they have migraine. I am interested in improving general knowledge about migraine, its characteristics, and treatments options. For instance, my recent research revealed that 1 in 5 migraineurs did not know that there are prescription medications available to help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. This means that people are missing out on available treatments, and may be suffering unnecessarily. There are also acute medications available which help to minimise a migraine once it starts. However, these need to be used sparingly, because over-use of such treatments can lead to rebound headaches - creating the issue for which treatment is sought. Overuse of such medications is a common route via which migraines transition from episodic to chronic. Despite this, my recent found that 1 in 5 migraineurs were not aware of this risk. Again, this calls for public health campaigns to improve migraine awareness. I'm interested in understanding the prevalence and impact of migraine across physical and psychological health.

 

Biography

Associate Professor, The Australian National University (2021-present)

ARC Future Fellow, The Australian National University (2017-2021)

Senior Lecturer, The Australian National University (2017-2020)

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher, The Australian National University (2014-2016)

Lecturer, The Australian National University (ANU) (2012-2016)

Postdoctoral Fellowship (funded by Ontario Government), University of Toronto, Canada (2011-2012)

PhD (with Dean’s Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence), University of Queensland (2008-2011)

Bachelor of Psychological Science (Hons I) with University Medal, University of Queensland (2004-2007)

 

Researcher's projects

Future Fellowship, The Causes and Consequences of Attentional Re-sizing Flexibility, awarded by the Australian Research Council to Stephanie Goodhew, $756,576 (2017-2021)

This project aims to investigate the mechanisms of dynamic re-scaling of visual attentional focus. Such changes are critical for task performance, yet to date almost nothing is known about the processes underlying them, other than that they can be slow. Using an innovative cognitive psychology approach integrating individual-differences, experimental, and training frameworks, this project expects to generate new theoretical knowledge about attentional rescaling and insights into how to improve it. The expected practical outcomes include selection and training programs for specific contexts (e.g., athletes). This should provide significant economic benefits, such as optimising performance prior to other costly forms of training.

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), The Temporal Dynamics of Conscious Object Perception, $371,220.00 (2014-2016)

We live in a constantly changing visual world. Thus a key inferential challenge that the human brain must solve is whether ongoing visual input represents a single object varying over time (for example, one person moving through a scene), or two distinct objects (for example, two different people successively occupying the same location). This project will investigate, for the first time, how the brain optimises this inference by using information about context, whether the flexibility of the inference process reduces with ageing, and the role of the two main visual pathways in this inference. This will enhance our knowledge of this fundamental process in vision, and our ability to promote optimal functioning into later life.

Publications

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

Return to top

Updated:  14 August 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers