Richard holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. His research has been published in some of the world’s leading scientific journals, and has been funded by several organisations (including The Leverhulme Trust, The Wellcome Trust and Trinity College Cambridge).

Magic & illusion

Building on Richard’s expertise in magic, this work involves exploring the psychology of conjuring, devising new illusions and examining the educational benefits of learning to perform magic tricks. Some of this research has been carried out in association with well-known magicians, including Derren Brown and Teller.


This research involves developing techniques to boost a range of factors associated with wellbeing and success, including happiness, relationships, productivity and leadership.  Perhaps the best known aspect of this work involved a decade-long project that identified the psychological principles used by lucky people to create their good fortune.



This mass participation project was carried out during UK Science Year, and aimed to both explore the psychology of humour and discover the world’s funniest joke. The project attracted international media attention, and eventually involved collecting over 1.5 million ratings of more than 40,000 jokes. For more information, click here.

Lying and deception

This research investigates the verbal and non-verbal indicators of lying, and develops techniques to enhance the detection of deception. Perhaps the best known of these studies involved Richard teaming up with the BBC to conduct a large scale experiment examining whether the public can detect lies via the media (click here).


This work investigates why people believe in the paranormal, the psychology of ghosts and hauntings, and testing claims of psychic ability. This research is carried out from a sceptical perspective, and focuses on evaluating normal explanations for seemingly paranormal phenomena and how exceptional experiences inform our understanding of the human mind.

Academic papers

Richard has published over 100 research papers and academic articles. Some of this work has been published in the world’s leading scientific journals, including Nature, Psychological Bulletin and PlusOne. To see a full list of these publications, and to download some of the papers, please click here.

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