Professor Judy Edworthy

Professor Judy Edworthy

Director of the Cognition Institute/Professor of Applied Psychology

School of Psychology (Faculty of Health & Human Sciences)


Judy Edworthy is Professor of Applied Psychology. Her two  main areas of research interest are  the applied cognitive psychology of sound and  the psychology of music. In terms of the applied cognitive psychology of sound, her main interest is in the design, application and underlying theory surrounding the use of alarms in both everyday environments and specific high-workload applications. Here, she carries out both research and commercial design work. Her second area of research is in the cognitive psychology of music, and her current interest lies in the aesthetics of popular song, particularly the impact of complexity, repetition, and song structure on the enjoyment of popular song. She also has interests and publications in the psychology of visual warnings.

She has been a member of several alarms standards committees, has been Chair of the Team 2 ('Noise and Communication) of the International Congress on the Biological Effects of Noise. She has served as Associate Editor for Ergonomics, as well as being on the editorial board, has been on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied and is currently on the editorial board of Human Factors. She is also a member of the EPSRC's peer review college. 

She has attracted research funding from a range of bodies including the EPSRC, the ESRC, the MRC, the HSE, the DTI, Qinetic, the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, the NHS, and carries out alarm design work from time to time for both public and private sector organisations.

Roles on external bodies


Member of editorial board, Human Factors, 2009-present

 Member of peer review panel, EPSRC, 2002 onwards

 Member, alarms committee, US American Association of Medical Instrumentation

 Member, BSI  IST/35 Health Informatics Technical Committee

 Ad hoc reviewer for additional  journals including, Perception & Psychophysics, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Acta Psychologica, Anesthesia and Analgesia, Applied Ergonomics, Ergonomics, Biomedical Instrumentation and Technology, Applied Cognitive Psychology, Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, International Journal of Accounting Information Systems and others


Editor-in-chief for two special issues of Ergonomics, one on warnings (1995) and one on Patient Safety (2006)

 Member of editorial board, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2005-2011

 Member of editorial board, Ergonomics, 1993-5 and 2000-2005

 Associate editor (action editor), Ergonomics, 1995-2000

 Chair, Team 2 (Noise and Communication), International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise, 2003-2008

 Invited speaker, Cabinet Office (Civil Contingencies Secretariat), 2009

 Invited contribution to BPS feedback to the Royal Society Inquiry on ‘Detection and Decontamination of Biological and Chemical Weapons’ as a warnings expert (2003)

 Keynote speaker at the 7th International Congress of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN), Sydney, 1998

 Member, BSI Health Care Committee 16 ‘Medical alarms’

 Member, BSI panel PSM/39/3 ‘Danger signals in noisy workplaces’

 Member of ESRC Case Award review panel, 2006-9

Teaching interests

- Human Factors and Ergonomics *

- Auditory Perception *

- Cognitive Psychology of Music *

- Applied Psychology

Staff serving as external examiners

PhD, University of Cardiff, 2011

External examiner, BSc Psychology and Design, Institute of Art and Design Technology, Dun Laoghaie, 2008-10

PhD, University of Delft, 2007

PhD, Oxford University, 2006

PhD, Bristol University, 2006

PhD, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, 2002

PhD, University of York, 2000 & 2002

Research interests

- The design, application and implementation of auditory warnings, monitoring signals, warning labels and signs *

- The cognitive representation of sound, particularly warning sounds *

- The perceived urgency of sound, and its theoretical and biological basis *

- Human Factors in alarm systems *

- The modelling of warning compliance *

- Human performance and safety in complex tasks*

- Psychophysics and scaling *

- The cognitive representation of music *

- Musical aesthetics *

- Group processes in engineering design *

- The postgraduate experience

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Elizabeth Hellier, PhD, 1991

Sarah Loxley, MPhil, 1991

Christina Meredith, PhD, 1995

Susannah Browne, MPhil, 1995

Helen Harris, PhD, 2004

Kirsteen Aldrich, PhD, 2005
Brahim Hamidcharef, PhD, 2005

Alexandra Costello, 2009

Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas, 2012

Grants & contracts

Awards since 2000:

2009-10 ESRC: ‘ Understanding the psychology of the interplay between simplicity and complexity in popular song. fEC £100k

 2009-10 NHS Connecting for Health: ‘Efficacy of prompts and alerts in eprescribing’  £80k

 2008-9 Rail Safety & Standards Board Alarms and alerts guidance and evaluation tool sound library       £19k

 2008-9 Home Office/Cabinet Office: ‘Evaluating the Application of Evidence-Based Guidance to the Design of Emergency Communication Literature’ £63k

 2006-8 Home Office/Cabinet Office: ‘Factors influencing information spread and reliability’ £292k

 2006-7 NHS Connecting for Health: ‘Best practice recommendations for applying clinical decision support (CDS) at the point of prescribing’ £20k

 2005-6 Rail Safety Standards Board: ‘Human Factors Guide to Managing Alarms and Alerts in the Rail Industry’ £140k

 2003-4 MRC/EPSRC/ESRC  Patient Safety Network: ‘Adaptive Systems and Tailored Information’ £40k

 2000-1 HSE/MAFF/DTI: The effectiveness of pesticide labelling £74k

 1999-2000    EPSRC: ‘Behavioural responses to speech and non-speech warnings’ £150k

 2000   Laboratory of the Government Chemist: ‘The Human Factors in Analytical Measurement’, £10k