Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience
Professor John Parkinson completed his BSc at Durham University and PhD in Cambridge. His research expertise is in the interactions between motivation, cognition and behaviour with a particular focus on positive psychology and the promotion of optimal functioning and resilience. John is a founder of the Wales Centre for Behaviour Change a joint project of the Wales European Funding Office and Bangor University. A primary remit of the Centre is to promote innovation, economic activity and social regeneration in convergence regions of Wales using behavioural and consumer science.
John’s research focuses on the interface between cognition and motivation. He is interested in how motivational signals are generated, how they interact with ongoing cognitive processes and how this affects behaviour, including consumer behaviour. From the perspective of ‘motivation’ he has studied physiological systems (hunger) as well as higher-order motives including power, achievement and affiliation. His research also touches on Positive Psychology concepts such as well-being, happiness and flow. In terms of cognition he is primarily interested in the processes that directly contribute to the control of behaviour such as goal-valuation and goal-setting, as well as the inhibition (or enhancement) of prepotent responses. In order to direct behaviour we need to understand the causal structure of the world around us (and our own abilities within that world). At one level this can be accounted for through theories of Pavlovian and instrumental learning. At another level this includes the cognitive processes of causal attribution, optimism and self-efficacy.
When not at work John is a keen fell runner, dingy sailor and dog lover!
Over the years John has taught a range of modules including: Consumer Psychology: Theory, Emotion & Motivation, and Positive Psychology. All of these modules show how psychological theories can be applied in the ‘real world’.