Dr Helen Davis
BA, BSc(Hons), PhD

Acting Dean, School of Psychology

About me

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Exercise Science.  My primary areas of research interest are in the fields of cognitive development and individual differences, investigating the factors that drive children’s increasing ability to reason, represent and solve problems, as well as the factors that account for differences in cognitive ability profile among individuals of the same age.  I have taught research methods and statistics for psychologists for over a decade at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I also teach developmental psychology, individual differences, and psychological measurement.

Teaching area

Helen’s main teaching focus is in the undergraduate Psychology course, in the areas of Developmental Psychology, Individual Differences, Assessment, and Research Methods. 

She coordinates and teaches PSY249 Psychology: The Developing Mind. 

She coordinates and teaches PSY173 Introduction to Psychological Research Methods and lectures in  PSY431 Psychology: Principles of Psychological Assessment and the postgraduate unit PSY655 Psychology: Psychology: Advanced Thesis Research Methods.

Research areas

Helen’s has several areas of research interest.  As a cognitive developmentalist, she is interested in the changes in information processing parameters responsible for children’s developing ability to understand concepts and solve problems, as well as the information processing parameters showing stability over time and accounting for relatively stable individual differences in intellectual performance.  As an affiliate of the Neurocognitive Development Unit at the University of Western Australia, she has investigated the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of typically developing children and of those born preterm. She is also interested in the interface between cognitive development, empathy and understanding of social situations.

In the context of adolescent development, leisure activity participation and outcomes (the Youth Activity Participation Survey), Helen researches the influence of personality differences on adolescents’ choice to participate or not, their selection of some activities over others, and the beneficial developmental experiences that they gain within activities.

Helen also engages in collaborative work with members of Murdoch’s Veterinary school investigating the human-animal relationship, attitudes to animal welfare issues, and factors affecting work stress levels within the veterinary profession.

Awards and grants

Teaching Excellence Award

2011 – Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (General Teaching Excellence in their Discipline), Murdoch University.

Research Excellence

1997 – PhD passed With Distinction
(Indicating examiners rated it within the top 5% of PhD theses.)


2007 – Davis, H. & Barber, B. Adolescents’ extracurricular activities and personality factors. Murdoch Research Excellence Grants Scheme.  $9935.76

2004 – Davis, H.  Personality and strategies for coping with daily hassles.  Murdoch Research Excellence Grants Scheme  $803

2002 – Davis, H.  Activation and inhibition: two sides to developmental and individual differences in intellectual performance. Murdoch Early Career Research Grant. $5000

 2000 – Davis, H. Cognitive development and individual differences in reasoning ability – the roles of speed and inhibition.  Small ARC grant. $5000

Events and speaking engagements

Invited conference paper

Davis, H. (November, 2005). Stress in the Australian Veterinary Profession.  Paper presented to 4th National Doctors Health Conference, Melbourne.


Davis, H. (October, 2002). The price we pay for technology:  What paper Stroop measures that computer Stroop misses. School of Psychology seminar series, Murdoch University.

 Davis, H. (October, 2002). Cognitive developmental psychology: Bridging the gap between neuroscience and education.  Science and Mathematics Education Centre seminar series Curtin University.

 Gavin, A. & Davis, H. (July, 2002). Cognitive deficits associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.  Seminar presented at the quarterly meeting of the ME/ Chronic Fatigue Society of Western Australia, July 2002.

 Davis, H. (1998).  Beauty versus truth:  The case of the Brinley plots in the age, speed and intelligence debate.  Murdoch School of Psychology Colloquium series.

Doctoral and masters supervisions


  • Ryan Penrose (current)
    Working memory training to enhance fluid intelligence. 
    Co-supervisor: Assoc Prof Jeff Coney.
  • Paul Norman (current)
    Effectiveness and cognitive costs of affect regulation strategies
    Co-supervisor: Dr Jon Prince
  • Karina Annear (current)
    Extracurricular sport participation and school satisfaction
    Co-supervisor: Prof Bonnie Barber
  • Mei’En Lim (current)
    Parent relationships: children’s perspectives in middle childhood
    Co-supervisors: Assoc Prof Corinne Reid, Prof Bonnie Barber
  • Susanne Bellesario(current)
    Motivations and impediments to commencing and maintaining regular physical exercise
    Co-supervisor: Dr Suzanne Dziurawiec
  • Caroline Ross (current)
    Self-regulation and goal pursuit in sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome
    Co-supervisor: Dr Suzanne Dziurawiec
  • Chan Su Hoon (2004)
    A theory of cooperative learning as incentives-values exchange: studies of the effects of task-structures, rewards and ability on academic and social-emotional measures of mathematics learning.
    Co-supervisor: Dr Suzanne Dziurawiec
  • Monika Nagel (2003)
    Organizational culture in schools
    Co-supervisors: Prof Iain Walker, Prof Mike Innes


  • Helen Ko (current)
    Working memory training in children born prematurely
    Co-supervisors: Assoc Prof Corinne Reid, Dr Kathy Modecki
  • Jacinta Macintyre (current)
    Evaluating an intervention program for adolescents at risk
    Co-supervisor: Dr Suzanne Dziurawiec
  • Paul Knight (current)
    Predictors of post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with severe injuries or chronic pain
    Co-supervisor: Assoc Prof Corinne Reid
  • Samantha Ellis (2013)
    Distraction load effects on efficacy of exposure treatment for spider phobia
    Co-supervisor: Dr Suzanne Dziurawiec


  • Rachelle Fox (2008)
    Working memory and control of attention in children with ADHD
    Co-supervisor: Dr Donna Bayliss
  • Kaye Mills (2007)
    Effects of a school-based intervention on social/ emotional competence
    Co-supervisor: Prof Peter Drummond
  • Ivana Pelemis (2006)
    Acculturation practices in immigrants from former-Yugoslavia
    Co-supervisor: Assoc Prof Alec Main



  • Davis, H., (2011),Death of a Companion Animal: Understanding Human Responses to Bereavement,In: The Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond: A Resource for Clinicians and Researchers, Springer, pages 225 to 242.
  • Rabbitt, P., Anderson, M., Davis, H., Shilling, V., (2003),Cognitive Processes in Ageing,In: Handbook of Developmental Psychology, Sage Publications Ltd, pages 560 to 583.
  • Davis, H., Anderson, M., (1999),Individual differences and development - one dimension or two?,In: The Development of Intelligence, Psychology Press, pages 161 to 191.


  • Valcan, D., Davis, H., Pino-Pasternak, D., (2018), Parental Behaviours Predicting Early Childhood Executive Functions: a Meta-Analysis, Educational Psychology Review, 30, , pages 607 - 649.
  • Reid, C., Davis, H., Horlin, C., Anderson, M., Baughman, N., Campbell, C., (2013), The Kids' Empathic Development Scale (KEDS): A multi-dimensional measure of empathy in primary school-aged children, British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 2, pages 231 - 256.
  • Reid, C., Davis, H., Horlin, C., Anderson, M., Baughman, N., Campbell, C., (2013), The Kids Empathic Development Scale (KEDS):Amulti-dimensional measure of empathy in primaryschool-aged children, British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 2, pages 231 - 256.
  • Davis, H., Irwin, P., Richardson, M., O'Brien-Malone, A., (2003), When a pet dies: Religious issues, euthanasia and strategies for coping with bereavement, Anthrozoos, 16 (1), , pages 57 - 74.
  • Davis, H., Anderson, M., (2001), Developmental and individual differences in fluid intelligence: Evidence against the unidimensional hypothesis, British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 19, , pages 181 - 206.


  • Davis, H., Barber, B., (2007),Music ensemble participation, academic achievement and academic self concept: A longitudinal study of adolescents,In: 40th Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) Anniversary National Conference (2007).
  • Davis, H., Teo, J., (2005),Emotion perception in music: Are we all equally tuned in?,In: XV Australian Society for Music Education's (ASME) National Conference (2005).
  • Dziurawiec, S., Davis, H., Van, d., (1999),The myth of cooperative learning and the scourge of competition: Insights into girls' computer game,In: 11th Australasian Human Development Conference, Sydney, NSW.
  • Davis, H., Dziurawiec, S., Gardner, G., Hill, C., Monck, F., Yee, Y., (1999),Improving children's spatial ability with Croc: The Legend of the Gobbos,In: 11th Australasian Human Development Conference,Sydney, NSW.

Articles in press

Reid, C. L., Davis, H. L., Horlin, C., & Baugham, N. (in press) The Kids’ Empathic Development Scale (KEDS): A Multi-Dimensional Measure of Empathy in Primary School Aged Children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Articles in preparation

Davis, H. L. (in prep). Working memory predicts social relational model preference. .

 Davis, H., Ross, C., & Dziurawiec, S. (in prep). A comparison of chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep deprivation effects on executive functions. 

Davis, H. (in prep).  The components of fluid intelligence: Illuminations of age and IQ differences from the Stroop task.

Conference presentations:

Annear, K., Barber, B. & Davis, H. (July, 2011). Parental involvement in sport: Is it associated with adolescent well-being and how?  Paper presented at 17th Australasian Human Development Association Conference, Dunedin.

Davis, H. & Barber, B. (July, 2011) Does personality predict the developmental experiences of adolescent participants in extracurricular activities? Paper presented at 17th Australasian Human Development Association Conference, Dunedin.

Knight, P., Reid, C., Davis, H., & Davies, S. (2011).  Hopeful, helpless, hyperaroused and holding on – hospital outpatients´ pain management strategies adopted following an interdisciplinary pain management group programme. Paper presented at 7th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC) – PAIN IN EUROPE VII Hamburg, Germany, September 21 – 24, 2011.

Davis, H. (July, 2005).  Fluid intelligence and the many faces of executive function. Paper presented to 14th Australasian Human Development Association Conference, Perth.

 Cayazaya, M. & Davis, H. (July, 2005).  The sound of music – but can we learn music visually too?  Paper presented at Australian School Music Educators Conference, Melbourne.

 Ross, C., Davis, H. & Dziurawiec, S. (February, 2005).  A comparison of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and sleep deprivation: Effects on executive functioning.  Paper presented to The Australasian Society for Behavioural Health and Medicine, Melbourne.

 Davis, H. (2003). Speed or inhibitory ability?  Insights into developmental and individual differences in fluid intelligence from the Stroop task.  Paper presented at the Australasian Human Development Association Conference, July 6-11,Auckland.

Davis, H. (2001).  Hemispatial bias and individual differences in extraversion, neuroticism and fluid intelligence.  Paper presented at the 10th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, July 7-11, Edinburgh.

Davis, H., Dziurawiec, S., Gardyne, S., Hill, C., Monck, F., Yee, Y. (July, 1999).  Improving children’s spatial ability with Croc:  The Legend of the Gobbos.  Paper presented at the 11th Australasian Human Development Conference, Sydney. 

 Dziurawiec, S., Davis, H. & Van Der Linden, N. (July, 1999).  The myth of cooperative learning and the scourge of competition:  Insights into girls’ computer game play. Paper presented at the 11th Australasian Human Development Conference, Sydney. 

Davis, H. (July, 1997).  IQ and mental age differences:  Can speed explain all?  Paper presented at the 5th European Congress of Psychology, Dublin, Ireland.

Davis, H. (June, 1995).  Age, speed and intelligence:  One of these things is not like the others.  Paper presented at the 6th Annual UWA Psychology Conference,Perth.