Psychology and Skill Acquisition Research


The research interests of the psychology members from the Extremes Research Group centre on applying principles from performance psychology to extreme environments. Projects currently examine a number of themes including: impact of environmental stressors on performance; the effects of leadership training on the performance of army recruits, and the psychological strategies used by mountaineers to cope with stress when climbing. The Extremes Research Group also work with the Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance (IPEP). IPEP is recognised as one of the world leaders for research and consultancy in the psychology of elite performance.

Skill acquisition

Effectively manipulating the learning environment is essential to maximise future performance within an extreme environment.  Structuring and delivering training in the most efficacious manner can be beneficial to all performers when handling pressure (ie psychological stress, forced decision making) and adapting to new environments/situations.  Dr Lawrence is conducting a series of experiments investigating training techniques to deal with psychological stress (often present in an extreme environment) and enhance the recall of skills.  To date, he has shown that training with psychological stress enables learners to develop movement patterns that are unaffected in subsequent stressful situations (ie it gives performers ‘immunity’ to the negative effects associated with the presence of stress).   

Selected publications (click on titles below to read the study summary):

Oliver SJ, Sanders SJ, Williams CJ, Smith ZA, Lloyd-Davies E, Roberts R, et al. (2012). Physiological and psychological illness symptoms at high altitude and their relationship with acute mountain sickness: a prospective cohort study. The Journal of Travel Medicine, 19, 210-219.

Hardy L, Arthur CA, Jones G, Shariff A, Munnoch K, Isaacs I, and Allsopp AJ (2010). The relationship between transformational leadership behaviors, psychological, and training outcomes in elite military recruits. The Leadership Quarterly, 21, 20-32.

Hardy L, Roberts R, Thomas PR, and Murphy SM (2010). Test of performance strategies: Instrument refinement using confirmatory factor analysis. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 11, 27-35.

Callow N, Smith M, Hardy L, Arthur CA, and Hardy J. (2009). Measurement of transformational leadership and its relationship with team cohesion and performance level. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21, 395-412.