Professor John A Parkinson has held an academic position at Bangor University since 2004 and was appointed Head of School in October 2013. He completed his BSc in Durham and PhD in Cambridge and is a psychologist and neuroscientist. 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 science. John also acts to facilitate interdisciplinary research at Bangor University through his role with Arloesi Pontio Innovation promoting communication, collaboration and engagement both within and without the University.

“I have of late, wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth.”

  • Asta
  • Windy pups
  • Maia; a long time ago

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. 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.

John’s School of Psychology Staff Page at Bangor University

John’s Bangor University Research Profile

John’s Google Scholar Profile

Key publications

Carter PJ, Hore B, McGarrigle L, Edwards M, Doeg G, Oakes R, Campion A, Carey G, Vickers K & Parkinson JA (2016): Happy thoughts: Enhancing well-being in the classroom with a positive events diary, The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1245770

Parkinson JA, Eccles K and Goodman A (2014) Positive impact by design: the wales centre for behaviour change. Journal of Positive Psychology 9 (6), 517-522.

Parkinson JA (2014) Positive emotions and reward: Appetitive systems – Amygdala and striatum, Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-801238-3.04498-6.

Piech, R.M.; Lewis, J.; Parkinson, C.H.; Owen, A.M.; Roberts, A.C.; Downing, P.E.; & Parkinson, J.A. (2010). Neural correlates of affective influence on choice. Brain and Cognition. 72, ((2)) 282-288.

Grahn, J.A.; Parkinson, J.A.; & Owen, A.M. (2009). The role of the basal ganglia in learning and memory: Neuropsychological studies. Behavioural Brain Research. 199, ((1)) 53-60.

Roberts A C, & Parkinson J A (2006) A componential analysis of the functions of primate orbitofrontal cortex. In D. Zald and S. Rauch (ed.) The Orbitofrontal Cortex. Oxford University Press, UK.

Parkinson, J.A.; Roberts, A.C.; Everitt, B.J.; & Di Ciano, P. (2005). Acquisition of instrumental conditioned reinforcement is resistant to the devaluation of the unconditioned stimulus.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 58, ((1)) 19-30.

Parkinson, J.A.; Cardinal, R.N.; & Everitt, B.J. (2000). Limbic cortico-ventral striatal systems underlying appetitive conditioning. Progress in Brain Research. 126, 263-285.