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Dr Phil Morgan

Dr Phil Morgan

Senior Lecturer

School of Psychology

+44 (0)29 225 10784
9.18, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Research summary

I am a Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Science and Human Factors Psychology and Director of the Human Factors Excellence (HuFEx) Research Group at Cardiff University. HuFEx has six research themes: defence and security; design of internal and external spaces; emergency services; healthcare and patient safety; human-machine system design, interation and training; and intelligent mobility.

I am particularly motivated by research that speaks to real world research questions and problems involving human performance, with the  goal of identifying effective, feasible and applicable solutions. Thus, as well as conducting lots of experiments with university students, I also test people who operate within workplace settings such as, defence and security (including cyber) and emergency services and healthcare. I am also involved in large-scale research projects examining human factors associated with the design, testing and use of autonomous vehicles. This includes research with older adults and individuals with cognitive and/or mobility impairments.

A key cognitive experimental interest involves examining the effects of visual and auditory interruption and distraction on performance of a range of laboratory and workplace primary tasks involving attention, short-term memory and problem solving. Some of my past work in this area has involved unpicking the effects of interruption on goal-directed memory, and, adapting features of computer interfaces to encourage deeper cognitive processing of key information and thereafter protect against negative effects of interruption. More recently, I am exploring (with colleagues and a PhD student) the efficacy of this and other methods within  eg., emergency and critical care hospital settings. I am also interested in  the features of interrupting tasks and distracting stimuli (such as background speech and sound) that exacerbate the degree of disruption caused, such as  complexity, duration, meaning (including emotivity), and content (including  cues to potential malevolence).

My main human factors research interests are related to transportation (including driving and aviation) and in particular the design and use of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and AV dashboard interfaces. Recent funded multi-collaborator projects include 'Venturer Autonomous Vehicles for UK Roads’ (  and 'Flourish Connected Autonomous Vehicles’ ( Within these projects, we are exploring factors such as handover and handback of manual controls within highly automated vehicles (Venturer), designing  human-machine interfaces for fully autonomous vehicles developed for eg., older adults (Flourish), and, trust in automated vehicles when negotiating junctions,  other traffic, pedestrians and cyclists (Venturer).

Primarily I use behavioural experimental and human factors techniques and methods (including driving simulators, eye tracking) with some recent work involving the use of high density EEG kit. Some of my studies also involve testing people in fully autonomous road vehicles.

Teaching summary

I teach and support students across most levels of the undergraduate curriculum. At Level 1, I conduct academic tutorials aimed at developing critical thinking  and analytic skills. At Level 3, I lead the Human Factors Psychology (PS3118) module and deliver all lectures and workshops. I also supervise final year projects (Level 3 PS3000) on various topics related to my research areas of expertise including: task interruption and distraction, cyber security, emotion and cognition, cognitive strategy adaptation, problem solving, and driving (including driverless cars).

Undergraduate education

  • 2001: BSc (Hons) Psychology – School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Postgraduate education

  • 2002: PGDip Research Methods – School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
  • 2005: PhD 'Now, where was I?’ A cognitive experimental analysis of the influence of interruption on goal-directed behaviour’ – School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 2012: PGCHE – School of Education, University of Wales Newport


  • Sep 2017-present: Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Science and Human Factors, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Jan 2015-Aug 2017: Senior Lecturer in Cognitive and Human Factors Psychology, Department of Health and Social  Sciences - Psychology, UWE-Bristol
  • Sep 2013-Jan 2015: Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology, University of South Wales
  • May 2011-Aug 2013: Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology, University of Wales, Newport
  • Dec 2010-Jan 2011: Part-time Visiting Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology, University of Wales, Newport
  • Jun 2005-May 2011: Research Associate, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Jan 2005-May 2005: Research Assistant, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Oct 2004-Dec 2004: Research Technician, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Oct 2002-Sep 2004: Research and Statistics Advisor, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Honours and awards

Awards/external committees

Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPS)
Member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS)
Associate Fellow of the Association of Learning Technology (AFALT)
Fellow of the HEA (FHEA)

PhD examiner at University College London, University of Gloucestershire, University of South Wales, and University of the West of  England – Bristol

External validation panel advisor: University of Wales, Trinity St David

Ad hoc peer reviewer for: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied;
Human-Computer Interaction; Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology; Acta Psychologica; La Travail Humain; Memory and Cognition; Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science; Human Factors (Conference Proceedings)

2011-14: Winner of 18 student awards at University of South Wales (Outstanding Lecturer, Inspirational Lecturer, Innovative Teaching & Assessment, Outstanding Personal Tutor, Extra Mile  Award);

2012: Vice Chancellor’s Award - outstanding  contribution to the life, work, and student experience at the University of Wales - Newport;

2004:  Royal Garden Party Invitation for outstanding research achievement and potential within an academic field at Cardiff University for a PGR student under the age of 25.











Research topics and related papers

Human Factors of Autonomous Driving Examples

Flourish Connected Autonomous Vehicles (2016-19)

Venturer Autonomous Vehicles for UK Roads (2015-18)

Task Interruption and Distraction Examples

Williams, E., Morgan, P. L., & Joinson, A. (2017). Press accept to update now: Individual differences in susceptibility to malevolent interruptions. Decision  Support Systems, 96, 119-129.
Not only were participants more likely to 'accept’ potentially fraudulant pop-up messages occurring as interruptions during a memory-intensive primary task (serial recall phase) vs a non-time pressure questionnaire phase (Table 1), the pop-ups universally impaired serial recall  memory (more so when low authority) even after an average time of only 6-seconds  spent viewing them before returning to the primary task (Fig 4).

Morgan, P. L, Williams, C., Ings, F., & Hughes, N.  (2017). Effects of valent image-based secondary tasks on verbal working memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental  Psychology.

Exposure to both negative and positive emotive images introduced as interruptions impaired performance on a free recall verbal memory task; moreso for negative images introduced at a high working memory load task point. These findings have implications for research and theory on task interruption and attentional narrowing and literature relating to the effects of emotive stimuli on cognition. There may also be implications for workplace settings in which emotive events regularly occur such as hospitals, defence settings, and emergency services. These are current areas of investigation.


Research Projects

  • 2018: Distracting effects of light and sound on human performance. Co-investigator. Delivered in conjunction with BAE Systems and TNO as part of the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre. Total grant value ~£60k.
  • 2017-18: Evidence review of decision-making in the UK transport system. Co-investigator. Funded by Government Office for Science. Total Grant Value ~£10k.
  • 2017-18: Launching the Human Factors Excellence (HuFEx) Research Group at Cardiff University. Co-investigator and Research Group Director. Funded by asn ESRC Impact Acceleration Award. Total Value ~£3.7k.
  • 2016-19: Flourish Connected Autonomous  Vehicles. Co-investigator. Multi-partner project funded by Innovate UK. Total  grant value ~£5.4M. ~£520, 000 for  work that I am involved in.
  • 2015-18: Venturer Autonomous Vehicles for  UK Roads. Co-investigator. Multi-partner project funded by Innovate UK. Total  grant value ~£5.0M. ~£600, 000 for  work that I am involved in.
  • 2016-17: Measuring Executive Functioning  Predictive of Real World Behaviours in Older Adults. Co-Investigator. Funded by  BRACE. £14, 500.
  • 2015-17: Effects of emotive interruptions  and distractions on cognition. Principal Investigator. Funded internally by  UWE-Bristol. £18, 000.
  • 2016-17: Developing an emotive stimuli battery  for research within emotive occupations. Principal Investigator. Funded  internally by UWE-Bristol – Research Career Development Scheme. £15, 000.
    2014: Bridging the Gaps in Aerospace,  Defence and Security. Lead Research Consultant. Led by Cardiff University  (Profs John Patrick & Alun Preece). EPSRC. £8, 000.
  • 2012-14: Three researcher development grants  at University of South Wales. Principal Investigator. £12, 000.

PGR Studentships & Related

  • 2017-20: F/T PhD Studentship – Intelligent  data processing to support self-management and responsive care. Cross  University and Faculty. Competition funded by UWE-Bristol & Coventry  University. ~£80, 000.  
  • 2017-20: F/T PhD studentship – Remote  physiological monitoring solutions for vulnerable users of autonomous vehicles.  Competition funded by Airbus & UWE-Bristol. ~£80, 000.
  • 2017-20: F/T PhD studentship – Adapting  interfaces to protect against the negative effects of interruptions within  emergency and critical care hospital settings. Competition funded by UWE-Bristol. ~£80, 000.
  • 2014-17: F/T PhD studentship – The  influence of the built environment on affective walking experience. Competition  funded by UWE-Bristol. ~£75, 000.
  • 2014-19: P/T PhD studentship – Gender  differences in mental rotation: Training in strategies to overcome differences.  University of South Wales fee-funded studentship (competition) + GTA funds. ~£20, 000.
  • 2013-18: P/T PhD studentship – Individual  differences in spatial abilities and strategies. University of South Wales and  UWE-Bristol fee-funded. ~£10, 000. My  PhD (supervised by Prof Dylan M Jones) and PGDip Social Science Research  Methods (both at Cardiff University – 2001-04) were funded by ESRC  (competition).

Research group

Cognitive Science

Human Factors Excellence at Cardiff University (

Research collaborators



  • Prof Tony Pipe (Bristol Robotics Laboratory; autonomous driving)
  • Dr Praminda Caleb-Solly (Bristol Robotics Laboratory; autonomous driving)
  • Prof Graham Parkhurst (UWE-Bristol; autonomous  driving)
  • Dr Chris Alford (UWE-Bristol; autonomous  driving)
  • Dr Alexandra Voinescu (UWE-Bristol; autonomous driving)
  • Prof John Parkin (UWE-Bristol; autonomous  driving)
  • Dr Emma Williams (University of Bristol; cyber security)
  • Prof Adam Joinson (University of Bath; cyber security)
  • Dr Nancy Zook (UWE-Bristol; ageing and executive functioning)
  • Dr Gary Christopher (UWE-Bristol; ageing and executive functioning)

Postgraduate research interests

My main research interests at the moment are:

  • Exploring features of visual and verbal 'secondary task’ interruptions and distractions (including background speech  and sound) that markedly impair 'primary task’ performance, and, testing and  developing methods and interventions to mitigate the disruption caused. Examples include emotive interruptions and distractions and computer-based interruptions (eg., pop-ups, emails) with potentially malevolent content;
  • Individual differences in eg., cognitive  ability, that can predict (to an extent) the degree of disruption caused by  different types of interrupting tasks and distracting stimuli;
  • Human interaction with and trust of autonomous  vehicles. In collaboration with colleagues at Bristol Robotics Laboratory and  UWE-Bristol and using a range of driving simulators (e.g., STISIM, Williams F1  Advanced Engineering) and automated road vehicles (e.g., BAE Systems Bowler  Wildcat, TSC Lutz Pod).

For more information on my research in all of these areas, please see my publications or research pages.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Janet Mundy (Cardiff University). Janet’s PhD fees are part funded by REET and the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. Janet is examining individual differences in spatial ability and task strategy with a focus on measures used to assess mental rotation abilities amongst university students studying STEM and non-STEM subjects. Janet hopes to inform the design of tests to measure mental rotation ability for selection (eg., employment) purposes.

Craig Williams (UWE-Bristol). Craig has a UWE-Bristol fully funded PhD studentship and is examining the effects of task interruption and distraction within emergency and critical care healthcare settings. Another goal of Craig’s PhD is to develop methods to adapt computer interfaces within emergency and critical care healthcare settings to influence cognitive strategy and mitigate negative effects of interruptions.

Louise Bowen (Cardiff University): Fully funded ESRC studentship. Behavioural aspects of safer transport.

Laura Bishop (Cardiff University): Fully funded PhD studentship (School of Psychology) - human susceptibility to cyber threats. Title TBC. 

Nicola Turner (Cardiff University): Part funded PhD studentship (School of Psychology and Trimetis): Human susceptibility to cyber threats. Title TBC.


2014-17: Anna Bornioli (UWE-Bristol). Anna held a UWE-Bristol fully funded PhD studentship and examined the influence of the built environment on affective walking experience by drawing upon research within the fields of environmental psychology and geography. Her research has implications for policy and design of urban environments with an overarching health and well-being theme promoted through stress recovery and restoration. Anna is currently working with supervisors (Prof Graham Parkhurst and Dr Phillip Morgan) to publish all of her PhD studies (and has already published two journal articles with a third under revision). Anna is currently a Research Fellow within the Public Health Research Group and Centre for Appearance Research at UWE-Bristol. 

My human factors research tends to attract a lot of media attention. One example is human factors and autonomous driving:

Autonomous vehicles: 'handover' process crucial say researchers:

Planned handover key to driverless cars say VENTURER researchers

Handover process the key to connected autonomous vehicle development:

Handover process is a key issue for CAV development:

UK  engineers trial autonomous driving “handover” technology:

External profiles