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Paul Sowden is Professor of Psychology, Cognition and Creativity in the Department of Psychology, where he is currently the Research and REF Lead.

He is Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, where he was formerly Head of the Department of Psychological Sciences and Director of the ILLUME Creativity Research Centre. He is also an Associate of the Institute of Business Creativity, Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Higher Education Teaching Qualification: Higher Education Academy Fellowship (FHEA)


Areas of expertise

 Psychology, cognition and creativity


Sowden, P. T. (in press). Rethinking assessment: putting psychology to work to build learners’ creativity. Psychology of Education Review.

Martin, C., Sowden, P. T., and Warren, F. (in press). Connected Creativity: The Impact of Web Search on Everyday Creative Thinking. European Psychologist.

Ratcliffe, E. Gatersleben, B., Sowden, P. T. & Korpela, K. M. (2021). Understanding the perceived benefits of nature for creativity. Journal of Creative Behaviour. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jocb.525

Aznar, A., Sowden, P. T., Bayless, S., Ross, K., Warhurst, A., & Pachi, D. (2021). Home-schooling during COVID-19 lockdown: Effects of coping style, home space, and everyday creativity on stress and home-schooling outcomes. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000182

Johnstone, N., Milesi, C., Burns, O., van den Bogert, B., Nauta, A., Hart, K., Sowden, P. T., Burnet, W. J., & Cohen-Kadosh, K. (2021). Anxiolytic effects of a galacto-oligosaccharides prebiotic in healthy females (1825 years) with corresponding changes in gut bacterial composition. Scientific Reports, 11, 8032. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87865-w

Cogdell-Brooke, L., Sowden, P. T., Violante, I R., & Thompson, H. E. (2020). A Meta-Analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies of Divergent thinking using Activation Likelihood Estimation. Human Brain Mapping, 41,5057-5077. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.25170

Kauer, A. R. and Sowden, P. T., (2020). The role of attention in the development of creativity. In K. Cohen-Kadosh (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198827474.013.15

Snyder, H. T., Sowden, P. T., Silvia, P. J., & Kaufman, J. C. (2020). The creative self: Do people distinguish creative self-perceptions, efficacy, and personal identity?. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000317

Sowden, P. T., Pringle, A. and Peacock, M. (2020). Verbal protocol analysis as a tool to understand the creative process. In V. Dörfler and M. Stierand (Ed’s) Handbook of Research Methods on Creativity, Edward Elgar Publishers: Cheltenham, UK.

Tham, D. S. Y., Sowden, P. T., Grandison, A., Franklin, A., Lee, A. K. W., Ng, M., Park, J., Pang, W., & Zhao, J. (2019). A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publlication http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000703

Wimshurst, Z. L., Sowden, P. T., & Cardinale, M. (2018). The Effectiveness of Different Visual Skills Training Programmes on Elite Cricket Players, European Journal of Sports & Exercise Science, 6, 75-102.

Mehta, B., Sowden, P. T., & Grandison, A. (2018). Does deuteranomaly place children at a disadvantage in education settings?: A systematic literature review. In L. MacDonald, C. Biggam, & G. Paramei (Eds.), Progress in Colour Studies: Cognition, language and beyond (pp. 341-355).

Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., & Sowden, P. T. (2018). Predicting the Perceived Restorative Potential of Bird Sounds Through Acoustics and Aesthetics. Environment and Behavior 001391651880695. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518806952

Sowden, P. T., Pringle, A., & Gabora, L. (2018). The Shifting Sands of Creative Thinking: Connections to Dual Process Theory. In K. J. Gilhooly, L. J. Ball, and L. Macchi (Eds) Insight and Creativity in Problem Solving, Routledge: Oxford.

Pringle, A. & Sowden, P. T. (2017). Unearthing the Creative Thinking Process: Fresh Insights from a Think Aloud Study of Garden Design. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity & the Arts, 11, 344-358. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000144.

Pringle, A. & Sowden, P. T. (2017). The Mode Shifting Index (MSI): A new measure of the creative thinking skill of shifting between associative and analytic thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 23, 17-28. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2016.10.010.

Grandison, A., Sowden, P.T., Drivonikou, V.G., Notman, L.A., Alexander, I., & Davies, I.R.L. (2016). Chromatic Perceptual Learning but no Category Effects without Linguistic Input. Frontiers in Psychology: Perception Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00731

Pringle, A., Sowden, P. T., Deeley, C., & Sharma, S. (2016). Shifting between modes of thought: a domain-general creative thinking skill? In F. Reisman (Ed.) Creativity in Arts, Science and Technology.

Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., & Sowden, P. T.  (2016). Associations with bird sounds: How do they relate to perceived restorative potential? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 47, 136-144. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.05.009

Sowden, P. T., Eves, A., & Raats, M. (2016). A Feast of Creativity. Introduction to the Special Issue on Creativity and Food. Journal of Creative Behavior, 50, 169-170. DOI: 10.1002/jocb.151

Wimshurst, Z.L., Sowden, P.T., Wright, M. (2016). Expert-novice differences in brain function of field hockey players. Neuroscience, 315, 31-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.11.064

Sowden, P.T., Clements, L., Redlich, C., & Lewis, C. (2015). Improvisation facilitates divergent thinking and creativity: Realising a benefit of primary school arts education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 9, 128-138. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000018

Sowden, P. T., Pringle, A., & Gabora, L. (2015). The Shifting Sands of Creative Thinking: Connections to Dual Process Theory. Thinking & Reasoning, 21, 40-60. doi: 10.1080/13546783.2014.885464

Grandison, A., Davies, I.R.L., & Sowden, P.T. (2014). The evolution of Grue: Evidence for a new colour term in the Himba language. In W. Anderson, C.P. Biggam, C. Hough, & C.J. Kay (Eds.), Colour Studies: A Broad Spectrum. Amsterdam, NL: John Benjamins.

Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., and Sowden, P. T. (2013). Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery.  Journal of Environmental Psychology, 36, 221-228. doi: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494413000650

Casey, M.C. and Sowden, P.T. (2012) Modelling learned categorical perception in human vision.  Neural Networks, 33, 114-126.

Sowden, P.T. (2012). Psychophysics, in H. Cooper, P. Camic, R. Gonzalez, D. Long, A. Panter and K. Sher (Ed’s) APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology.  American Psychological Association. Vol. 1, Chapt. 23.

Wimshurst, Z., Sowden, P.T. and Cardinale, M. (2012) Visual skills and playing positions of Olympic field hockey players.  Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114, 204-216. doi: 10.2466/05.22.24.PMS.114.1.204-216

Franklin, A. and Sowden, P.T. (2011). Colour & Autism Spectrum Disorders.  In C. P. Bigham, C. A. Hough, C. J. Kay & D. R. Simmons (Ed’s) New Directions in Colour Studies (pp. 281-292).  Amsterdam, NL: Benjamins.

Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Notman, L.A., Alexander, I. & Özgen, E. (2011). Chromatic Perceptual Learning.  In C. P. Bigham, C. A. Hough, C. J. Kay & D. R. Simmons (Ed’s) New Directions in Colour Studies (pp. 433-444).  Amsterdam, NL: Benjamins.

Sowden, P. T. & Dawson, L. (2011). Creative feelings: The effect of mood on Creative Ideation and Evaluation. ACM: Creativity and Cognition 2011, 393-394.

Franklin, A., Sowden, P.T., Notman, L., West, D., Gonzales-Dixon, M., Alexander, I., Loveday, S., White, A.  (2010) Reduced Chromatic Discrimination in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Developmental Science, 13, 188-200.

Jehoel, S., Sowden, P.T., Ungar, S. and Sterr, A. (2009) Tactile elevation perception in blind and sighted participants and its implications for tactile map creation. Human Factors, 51, 208-223.

Franklin, A., Sowden, P.T., Burley, R., Notman, L. and Alder, E. (2008) Color perception in children with autism.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1837-1847.

Myers, A. and Sowden, P.T. (2008) Your hand or mine? The Extrastriate Body Area.  NeuroImage, 42, 1669-1677.

Özgen, E., Payne, H.E., Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G. (2006) Retinotopic sensitisation to spatial scale: evidence for flexible spatial frequency processing in scene perception.  Vision Research, 46, 1108-1119.

Sowden, P.T. and Barrett, P. (2006) Psychophysiological Methods, in G.M. Breakwell, C. Fife-Schaw, S. Hammond and J. Smith (Ed’s) Research Methods in Psychology 3E.  Sage: London.  pp. 146-159

Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G. (2006) Channel surfing in the visual brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 538-545.

McCotter, M., Gosselin, F., Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G.  (2005) The use of visual information in natural scenes. Visual Cognition, 12, 938-953.

Notman, L., Sowden, P.T. and Özgen, E. (2005) The nature of learned categorical perception effects: a psychophysical approach. Cognition, 95, B1-B14. (This paper was the subject of a subsequent ‘Research Focus’ article (Fahle, M. (2005) Learning to tell Apples from Oranges, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 455-457)).

Özgen, E., Sowden, P.T., Schyns, P. and Daoutis, C. (2005) Top-down attentional modulation of spatial frequency processing in scene perception. Visual Cognition, 12, 925-937.

Sowden, P.T., Özgen, E., Schyns, P. and Daoutis, C. (2003) Expectancy effects on spatial frequency processing. Vision Research, 43, 2759-2772.

Sowden, P.T., Rose, D. and Davies, I.R.L. (2002) Perceptual learning of luminance contrast detection: specific for spatial frequency and retinal location but not orientation. Vision Research, 42, 1249-1258.

Barrett, P and Sowden, P.T. (2000) Psychophysiological Methods, in G.M. Breakwell, S. Hammond and C. Fife-Schaw (Ed’s) Research Methods in Psychology 2E.  Sage: London.  pp. 211-223.

Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L. and Roling, P. (2000). Perceptual learning of the detection of features in X-ray images: a functional role for improvements in adults’ visual sensitivity? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 26, 379-390.

Sowden, P.T. (1999).  Expert perceivers and perceptual learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 396-397.

Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T., Jerret, D.T., Jerret, T. and Corbett, G.G. (1998).  A cross cultural study of English and Setswana speakers on a colour triads task: a test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.  British Journal of Psychology, 89, 1-15.

Sowden, P.T.  (1998). Vision in Context. Review of Visual Perception: Physiology, Psychology and Ecology 3E, by Bruce, V., Green P.R. and Georgeson, M.A. The Psychologist, 11(5), 243.

Sowden, P.T. and Watt, S. J. (1998).  A Jittered Squares illusion and a proposed mechanism. Perception, 27, 439-454.

Pauli, R. and Sowden, P.T.  (1997). The role of feedback in learning screening mammography. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 3036, 205-211.

Roling, P., Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Özgen, E. and Lawler, M. (1997).  Perceptual learning in inspection tasks, in D. Harris (Ed.) Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics Volume Two: Job Design and Product Design, Ashgate: Aldershot.  pp. 121-128.

Rollinson, J. and Sowden, P.T. (1997).  The effect of colour on the recall of computer presented information, in S.A. Robertson (Ed.) Contemporary Ergonomics 1997.  Taylor and Francis: London. pp. 522-527.

Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Roling, P. and Watt, S.J. (1997).  Acquiring skill at medical image inspection: learning localised in early visual processes. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 3036, 273-280.

Davies, I.R.L., Roling, P., Sowden, P., Hammond, S. and Chivers, R. (1996).  Design of training schedules for medical image readers: the effects of variability and difficulty levels of the training stimuli. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 169-179.

Hammond, S., Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T. and Davies, J. (1996).  Statistical decision support in screening mammography. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 164-168.

Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Lawler, M., Curry, B. and Hammond, S. (1996).  Expertise at X-ray film reading: the role of attention, and identification training, in S.A. Robertson (Ed.) Contemporary Ergonomics 1996.  Taylor and Francis: London. pp. 246-251.

Sowden, P.T., Pauli, R., Roling, P., Davies, I.R.L. and Hammond, S. (1996).  Improvement in screening performance: the importance of appropriate feedback in screening mammography. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 180-188.

Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Rose, D and Kaye, M. (1996).  Perceptual learning of stereoacuity.  Perception, 25, 1043-1052.

Davies, I.R.L., Corbett, G.G., Mtnje, A. and Sowden, P.T. (1995).  The basic colour terms of Chichewa.  Lingua, 95, 259-278.

Sowden, P.T. and Davies, I.R.L. (1995).  The nature of perceptual skills in screening mammography: Implications for training approaches. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2436, 143-154.

Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T., Hammond, S. and Ansell, J. (1994).  Expertise at mammography: A perceptual or conceptual skill? Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2166, 86-94.

Sowden, P.T. and Stevenson, J. (1994).  Beginning reading strategies in children experiencing contrasting teaching methods.  Reading and Writing, 6, 109-123.

Davies, I.R.L., MacDermid, C., Corbett, G.C., McGurk, H.C., Jerret. D., Jerret, T. and Sowden, P.T. (1992).  Colour terms in Setswana: A linguistic and perceptual approach. Linguistics, 30, 1065-1103.

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