We're the Experimental Psychopathology Lab at The University of Hong Kong

About Us

Our work merges insights from basic psychological science and clinical practice to model and investigate the core mechanisms involved in the onset, maintenance and treatment of psychological disorder in young people and adults. Our research asks several questions:

1) How do people develop psychological disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, schizophrenia)?

2) What explains why these disorders persist over time?

3) How can we treat these disorders?

Projects

Eye-tracking and attention

In this body of work we're utilising novel machine learning techniques to measure and analyse the way in which people look at things they're afraid of or which concern them, such as images of angry people or of people experiencing pain. We're interested in understanding how different patterns of looking correspond with people's ability to manage negative feelings, such as fear, anxiety, sadness and physical discomfort.

Self-projection

Within this project we're investigating the problems that some people with, or at risk of, emotional disorders experience in projecting themselves i) back into their autobiographical past, ii) forward into their possible future; and iii) into the perspectives of other people. We’re using these insights to develop novel interventions such as Memory Specificity Training.

MeMo: Me and My Objects

This project examines the relationships between people and their objects. We are currently conducting and planning several studies exploring the role of memory in hoarding, and, how the memories that people associate with some objects can make people want to own more of these objects and also how it can make these objects difficult to discard once they have been acquired.

People

We are fortunate enough to have many people passing through our lab and helping with our projects - far too many to list here. Here are our more permanent staff and a brief intro to who they are and what they do.

Tom J. Barry, PhD

Tom is the director of the EPL. Tom was selected as a Rising Star of the Association of Psychological Sciences in 2020. He is the director of the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and a Visiting Researcher at King's College London. Tom's research interests are also those of the lab!

Christine H. M. Chiu, PhD

Christine recently graduated from the lab but is continuing to collaborate with us on a number of projects. Christine's research concerns the social causes and consequences of reduced memory specificity.

Fred, H. F. Chan, MPhil

Fred also recently graduated from the lab. Fred's work concerns the cognitive biases (in attention and interpretation) that are associated with healthy anxiety and which explain individual differences in pain experiences.

Research assistants

Kristy Lam. Kristy is an undergraduate student who helps with a number of projects regarding autobiographical memory specificity. Kristy is involved in the MeMo project.

Tiffany Tao. Tiffany, a recent graduate of HKU is involved a number of projects, most recently some involving COVID-19.

Nadia Adelina. Nadia is an undergraduate student who is helping in a number of projects related to narrative identities.

Publications

2020

*corresponding author

Below is a list of publications from the present year. For a full list of publications please visit Google Scholar.

Chan, F. H. F., Takano, K., Lau, J. Y. F. & Barry, T. J.* (in press). Evaluation of the factor structure and content specificity of the Interpretation Bias Task (IBT). Cognitive Therapy and Research. doi: 10.1007/s10608-020-10138-9

Ricarte, J. J.*, Ros, L., Latorre, J. M., & Barry, T. J. (in press). Ruminative and mood associations for age differences in social and directive reasons to think and talk about life experiences. PLoS One. doi: 0.1371/journal.pone.0235378

Chan, F. H. F., Suen, H., Jackson, T., Vlaeyen, J., & Barry, T. J.* (in press). Pain-related attentional processes: a systematic review of eye-tracking research. Clinical Psychology Review. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101884

Chan, F. H. F., Barry, T. J.*, Chan, A. B., Hsiao, J. H. (in press). Understanding visual attention to face emotions in social anxiety using hidden Markov models. Cognition and Emotion. doi:10.1080/02699931.2020.1781599

Ng, D. W. L., Chan F. H. F., Barry, T. J., Lam C., Chong C. Y., Kok H. C. S., Liao Q. Y., Fielding R., & Lam W. W. T. (in press). Psychological distress during the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic among cancer survivors and healthy controls. Psycho-Oncology. doi:10.1002/pon.5437

Company, A., Tarancón, P., Cruz, A. R., Griffith, J. W., Ricarte, J. J.*, & Barry, T. J. (in press). Indicators of criminal justification in a qualitative analysis of inmates’ autobiographical criminal self-narratives. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi: 10.1177/0886260520933043

Barry, T. J., Hernandez-Viadel, J., & Ricarte, J. J.* (in press). An investigation of mood and executive functioning effects of brief auditory and visual mindfulness meditations in patients with schizophrenia. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy. doi:10.1007/s41811-020-00071-w

Chan, F. H. F., Suen, H., Hsiao, J. H., Chan, A. B., & Barry, T. J.* (in press). Interpretation biases and visual attention in the processing of ambiguous information in chronic pain. European Journal of Pain. doi. 10.1002/ejp.1565

Caravaca-Sánchez, F., Aizpurua, E., Ricarte, J. J.*, & Barry, T. J. (2020). Personal, criminal and social predictors of suicide attempts in prison. Archives of Suicide Research. doi:10.1080/13811118.2020.1738293

Barry, T. J., Gregory, J., Latorre, J. M., Ros, L., Nieto, M., Ricarte, J. J.* (2020). A multi-method comparison of autobiographical memory impairments amongst younger and older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 2, 1-8. doi:10.1080/13607863.2020.1729338

Hallford, D. J.*, Barry, T. J., Austin, D., Raes, F., Takano, K., & Klein, B. (2020). Impairments in Episodic Future Thinking for Positive Events and Anticipatory Pleasure in Major Depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 260, 536-543. doi.10.1016/j.jad.2019.09.039

Resources

We've created a number of questionnaires to assist us in our research and you're free to use them if you'd like.

The Emotional Attention Control Scale (eACS)

The eACS is a 14-item questionnaire that focuses on the modulation of attention control by emotions, including items regarding the voluntary focusing, shifting and updating of attention. For example, ‘My attention easily shifts to my emotions’ and ‘I am able to put my feelings aside when I need to focus’. Responses are given on a 4-point scale from 1 (almost never ) to 4 (always). The eACS is available in three languages (click to download):

English, Chinese and Dutch.

The Fear Inhibition Questionnaire (FIQ)

The FIQ is an 18-item questionnaire that assesses the extent to which people have difficulty learning to inhibit fear. For example, 'After I've been in an anxiety-provoking situation, I find it difficult to be relaxed in these situations in the future.' Participants respond on 5-point scales from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The FIQ is available in English and Chinese.