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Dr Kathryn Barbara Francis
Dr Kathryn Barbara Francis and fellow graduating CogNovians

Posted on 16 October 2017

Kathryn gets PhD and starts postdoc at University of Reading

Kathryn B. Francis was awarded her PhD in experimental psychology for her thesis entitled "Moral cognition: An interdisciplinary investigation of judgment versus action" in June 2017. Her PhD work explored the difference between what people say versus what they do in moral conflicts. Using state-of-the-art technologies, including virtual reality and haptic robotics, Kathryn examined simulated moral actions in visually immersive environments. Kathryn's research has found that in a variety of scenarios, people are more likely to endorse utilitarian responses in immersive situations that require action but demonstrate the opposite pattern of responses when they are required to make judgments in response to dilemmas on paper.

Kathryn started a postdoctoral position at the University of Reading, working on an interdisciplinary project in psychology and philosophy in April 2017. Kathryn is working on a project exploring ascriptions of knowledge; how we decide if we 'know' something and whether the use of 'know' varies across contexts and stakes. In this project, and similarly to her PhD work, Kathryn will be exploring the ecological validity of classic thought experiments and the disparity between what we say and what we do.

  • Francis, K.B. (2017). Moral cognition: An interdisciplinary investigation of judgment versus action (Doctoral Thesis, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK). Retrieved from
  • Francis, K. B., Howard, C., Howard, I. S., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Anderson, G., & Terbeck, S. (2016). Virtual Morality: Transitioning from Moral Judgment to Moral Action? PLOS One, 11(10), e0164374. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164374