Home page for Dr Dean Petters

I am currently:

Honorary Research Fellow
School of Computer Science,
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT
email: d.d.petters@cs.bham.ac.uk


Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Sheffield Hallam University
email: d.petters@shu.ac.uk

Outside of my head
Picture of

Contents on this webpage
- News
- Thanks for research support
- Links to groups and societies I am a member of or associated with
- Research in Emotional Architectures. Including computational modelling of emotion, in particular creating agent-based models to investigate architectures for social and emotional attachment. Plus consideration of how to validate agent based models of affective phenomena; and consideration of the information processing and evolutionary underpinnings of Attachment Theory.
- Research in Vision
- Research on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science
- Recent Academic Teaching Posts
- other bits and pieces to download and view
Picture of Me

Inside of my head


In March 2019 I received the Bowlby-Ainsworth award for research in Attachment Theory. For explorations into the history, requirements, and prospects for computational modelling of human attachment. The Bolwby-Ainsworth award program was initiated fifteen years ago to recognise and promote contributions to John Bowlby's and Mary Ainsworth's groundbreaking work on the nature of human attachment relationships.

I was lead guest editor for a special issue on Computational Modelling of Emotion in IEEE Transactions in Affective Computing

I was organising chair of two symposiums at the 2017 AISB Convention in Bath

Thanks for research support

Since 2000 I have received generous funding and research support from a number of sources including from:
Many thanks to all these sources of support!

Links to groups and societies I am a member of or associated with

I have been supported by, and collaborate with, Professor Everett Waters and colleagues at,
Attachment Theory and Research @ SUNY Stony Brook, and The New York Attachment Consortium,

I am Registered as a Chartered Psychologist by the British Psychological Society

I am a member of:

Research in Emotion and Attachment Theory.

  • I take a computational approach to understanding emotions - in particular social and emotional phenomana described by Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment Theory, and phenomena linked to loss of control of various kinds.
    My research interests include:
    - information processing theories of emotion;
    - the modelling and simulation of artificial emotions (particularly artificial attachment).
    - the emergence of emotional control states within cognitive architectures;
    - the information processing foundations of Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment Theory;
    - updating Bowlby's conception of the attachment control system with concepts of architecture and control from contemporary AI and Cognitive Science, particularly embodied and situated perspectives.
    - Agent Based Modeling which uses Autonomous agent and Multi-agent Simulations to conduct research in Attachment Theory (including the evolution of attachment) and in the development of infant problem solving.

  • Selected publications:
    D. Petters (2017). A New Direction for Attachment Modelling: Simulating Attachment Q Set Descriptors To be presented at the International Conference on Cognitive Modelling University of Warwick
    D. Petters and E. Waters (2017). Bowlby's Attachment Control System Approach: An Alternative History of Emotion Modelling. In D. Petters, D. Moffat and J. Parthemore (pp 127-137), Proceedings of the International Symposium on `Computational Modelling of Emotion: Theory and Applications. University of Bath: AISB Press
    D. Petters and E. Coyne-Umfreville (2017). Towards Modelling Adult Attachment Patterns as Control States. In D. Petters, D. Moffat and J. Parthemore (pp 177-185), Proceedings of the International Symposium on `Computational Modelling of Emotion: Theory and Applications. University of Bath: AISB Press
    D. Petters (2016). Steps to a Design-based Understanding of Depression. In Proceedings of 'New Perspectives on Depression: Lifting the Veil', Symposium at AISB Convention 2016.
    D. Petters (2015). From Ethological Displacement to Psychodynamic Defense Through the Lens of Attachment Modelling Invited talk at the workshop, Computational Neurology and Psychiatry: Do We Need It?. (Killarney, Ireland).
    D. Petters and E. Waters (2015). Modelling Emotional Attachment: An Integrative Framework for Architectures and Scenarios Presented at 'Models of Cognitive Emotional Interactions', Special session at IJCNN 2015 (Killarney, Ireland).
    D. Petters (2014). Losing Control Within the H-CogAff Architecture. J. Wyatt, D. Petters, and D. Hogg (Eds.) 'From Animals to Robots and Back: reflections on hard problems in the study of cognition'. Cognitive Systems Monographs, Springer: London.
    D. Petters, E. Waters, and A. Sloman (2011). Modelling Machines which can Love: From Bowlby's Attachment Control System to Requirements for Romantic Robots. Emotion Researcher 26, (2), 5-7
    D. Petters and E. Waters (2010). AI, Attachment Theory, and Simulating Secure Base Behaviour: Dr. Bowlby meet the Reverend Bayes. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on 'AI-Inspired Biology', AISB Convention 2010, (pp. 51-58). University of Sussex, Brighton: AISB Press.
    D. Petters, E. Waters, and F. Schönbrodt, (2010). Strange Carers: Robots as Attachment Figures and Aids to Parenting. Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems. 11:2, 246-252.
    D. Petters and E. Waters (2009). Modeling, Simulating, and Simplifying Links Between Stress, Attachment, and Reproduction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 1, 39-40.
    Preprint of target article: Marco Del Giudice: 'Sex, attachment, and the development of reproductive strategies.' can be downloaded from here .
    D. Petters (2006). Implementing a Theory of Attachment: A Simulation of the Strange Situation with Autonomous Agents, In Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Cognitive Modelling (April 2006, Trieste), pages 226-231, Trieste: Edizioni Golardiche.
    D. Petters (2004). Simulating Infant-Carer Relationship Dynamics, In Proceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium, (March 2004, Stanford): Architectures for Modelling Emotion - Cross-Disciplinary Foundations, number SS-04-02 in AAAI Technical reports, pages 114-122, Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.

    Further related papers can be downloaded from my
    publications page.

    Future aims:

    Research in Vision

    Visual Object Recognition, Geon Theory

    Research using behavioural experiments together with Neural Network Modelling to conduct research which investigates:
    - the development of object recognition through adolescence;
    - visual attention as an emergent phenomena;
    - the role of attention in relational perception and thinking.
    I am currently collaborating with
    Dr Martin Jüttner (Aston University), Prof Jules Davidoff (Goldsmiths College, University of London). and Prof John Hummel (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on research which I started doing as a Research Fellow in the Cognitive and Perceptual Systems Research Group in the Psychology Department of Aston University.

    This research involves investigating how holistic (view-dependent) and configural (view-independent) forms of object recognition develop from age seven through adolescence to adult levels of performance. My part in the project has involved carrying out experiments and running computational simulations. Experiments were designed, implemented, and calibrated with Martin Jüttner at Aston University, and were carried out in primary and secondary schools in the Birmingham and Worcestershire areas. The simulation work was been carried out with John Hummel. It is concerned producing and evaluating an adolescent variant of the geon based JIM3 simulation of object recognition.

    I am currently using the Jim3 simulation to model our developmental findings with animal and artefact stimuli. Preliminary results show that weakening Jim3's ability to form metric relations produces a pattern of simulation results similar to that which we found in our empirical testing of adolescents.

    Selected publications:
    M. Juttner, E. Wakui, D. Petters, and J. Davidoff, (2016). Developmental commonalities between object and face recognition in adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00385 .
    D. Petters, J. Hummel, M. Juttner, E. Wakui, and J. Davidoff (2016). Using Computational Models of Object Recognition to Investigate Representational Change Through Development. In G. Dodig-Crnkovic and R. Giovagnoli, Representation and Reality: Humans, Animanls and Machines. Springer.
    D. Petters, J. Hummel, M. Juttner, E. Wakui, and J. Davidoff (2014). How Different are the Visual Representations used for Object Recognition in Middle Childhood and Adulthood? Presented at 'Representation of Reality: Humans, Animals and Machines ', Symposium at AISB Convention 2014, Goldsmiths College, London.
    M. Juttner, D. Petters, E. Wakui, and J. Davidoff, (2014). Late Development of Metric Part-relational Processing in Object Recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 40, 4, 1718-1734
    doi: 10.1037/a0037288
    E. Wakui, M. Juttner, D. Petters, S. Kaur, J. Hummel, and J. Davidoff, (2013). Earlier development of analytic than holistic object recognition in adolescence PLoS ONE 8(4): e61041. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061041
    M. Juttner, E. Wakui, D. Petters, S. Kaur, and J. Davidoff, (2013). Developmental Trajectories for Part-based and Configural Object Recognition in Adolescence. Developmental Psychology 49 (1) 161-176 (Online first publication March 26, 2012)


    I am interested in how attention can be modelled as an emergent phenomenon, and would like to extend this approach to attention to simulations of object recognition.

    Research on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science and the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science and Attachment Theory

    How new thinking about the Church-Turing thesis can drive progressive theory change in cognitive science and philosophy of mind

    How contemporary directions theories of embodied, extended and enactive cognition can inform Attachment Theory (and vice versa)

    Selected publications:
    D. Petters and A. Jung (2018). From the Chinese Room Argument to the Church-Turing Thesis In G. Gallo and C. Stancati (pp. 25-29) Proceedings of the International Symposium on `Philosophy after AI: Mind, Language and Action University of Liverpool: AISB Press
    D. Petters (2016).An Encounter Between 4e Cognition and Attachment Theory. Connection Science, 28, 4, 387-409 http://doi.org/10.1080/09540091.2016.1214947
    D. Petters and E. Waters (2014). From Internal Working Models to Embodied Working Models. Presented at 'Re-conceptualizing Mental "Illness": Enactivist Philosophy and Cognitive Science - An Ongoing Debate', Symposium at AISB Convention 2014, Goldsmiths College, London.
    D. Petters and E. Waters, (2013). Epistemic Actions in Attachment Relationships and the Origin of the Socially Extended Mind. In Proceedings of 'Re-conceptualizing Mental "Illness": The View From Enactivist Philosophy and Cognitive Science', AISB Convention 2013 , (pp. 17-23).

    Recent Academic Teaching posts

    Lecturing in Psychology at University Wolverhampton, 2018 - ongoing

    Since February 2018 I have made contributions to Cognitive and Social Psychology modules, themes in psychology, and lectured on the M.Sc. in Cyberpsychology.

    Lecturing in Cognitive Psychology at Birmingham City University , 2014 - 2018

    Since November 2014 to January 2018 I lectured at Birmingham City University, acting as module coordinator for a new module in Cyber Psychology as well as helping to deliver material in Research Methods, Psychopathology, Introduction to Psychology (Consciousness), Cognitive Psychology (Cognition and Emotion, and Neuropsychology), as well as delivering material on Attachment Theory on the M.Sc. in Integrative Psychotherapy. I was also faculty academic lead for curriculum design and development. This involved taking a lead role in steering the faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences through a process of curriculum transformation, with all modules at BCU being transformed into 20 credit practice led and internationalised modules with innovative pedagogy and enhanced employability. In this role I was a member of the universities main `Student Experience, Learning and Teaching' (SELT) committee, as well as faculty (FSELT) committees and faculty steering group for the transforming the curriculum process. I liased between the Centre of Enhancement of Learning and Teaching and provided advice at all levels within my faculty on curriculum transformation, the professional standards framework of the higher education academy, and general issues in higher education pedagogy.

    Tutoring in Psychology with the Open University

    Since January 2010 I have been an Associate Lecturer with the Open University. In October 2010 I started tutoring on DSE212 Exploring Psychology. This is a second year module which gives a broad overview to a variety of areas within psychology and includes two short research projects. One project is quantitative and involves the use of SPSS to analyse experimental data, the other project is qualitative and involves using thematic analysis. In addition, in January 2011 I started tutoring on DD303 Cognitive Psychology. This is a third year module which includes material on perceptual processes, memory, concepts and language, thought, emotion and consciousness. This content is integrated with material on a variety of relevant research methods including a quantitative research project. Recently, in February 2013, I started tutoring on DSE141. This is a first year module which focuses on nine topics, from the study of aggression, to reinforcement learning, Attachment Theory, and theories of friendship, with also material on language, attention and memory.

    Lecturing in Social Psychology at University of Northampton, 2014

    From January to November 2014 I lectured at the University of Northampton. My main teaching duties were: Social Psychology (identity, attributions, social representations, and social cognition); Applied Psychology (Sports Psychology, Counselling psychology/ psychotherapy, and Neuropsycholgy); Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (Behaviourism versus Cognitivism, Consciouness, Qualitative versus quantitative approaches, Psychology as a Science, and Ethics); and Research Methods. I also helped deliver two further modules: Adult Development, and Personality Psychology. I also acted as a supervisor for final year dissertation projects in Social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology. My administrative duties included being module coordinator on the Applied Psychology module, and Deputy Course Leader on the M.Sc. in Psychology.

    Lecturing in Psychology at Newman University College, 2010-2011

    In the spring semester of academic year 2009-2010 I lectured in Psychology at Newman University College. I delivered and examined the Cognitive Psychology component of the first year undergraduate module - Cognition and Brain, and all of the second year undergraduate module on Cognitive Psychology. Responsibility for these modules involved supervising and examining practical work as well as conducting lectures. The Cognitive Psychology material which was covered included material on perceptual cognition (object recognition and attention); language (animal communication, language production in speech and writing); memory (architectures for memory and autobiographical memory); knowledge; consciousness; cognitive modelling; cognitive architectures; and other aspects of high level cognition (problem solving, judgement, decision making, and reasoning). I also acted as a supervisor for final year dissertation projects in Forensic Psychology and research projects on the MSc in Clinical Applications in Psychology. In 2011 I returned as a part-time visiting lecturer delivering the second year Cognitive Psychology module I previously wrote and taught as a fulltime lecturer.

    Lecturing in AI and Cognitive Science at the University of Birmingham

    In the spring semesters of academic years 2006-2007 to 2008-2009, in the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, I taught the first year undergraduate module Artificial Intelligence Principles. This module covered a wide range of AI techniques, including search and planning, and surveyed a number of representations used in AI and Cognitive Science. It provided an introduction to Propositional and Predicate Calculus, Neural Networks and Production Systems, and showed how these formalisms are used in AI and Cognitive Science. It also included coverage of Cognitive Science theories and simulations from the domains of: vision, learning, decision making, and problem solving.

    Though the
    Artificial Intelligence Principles module is no longer being taught, I remain a Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Computer Science until December 2015. Course material for 2006-2007 Semester 2 Artificial Intelligence Principles can be found HERE.

    Bits and pieces to download or view

    my publications

    slides from talks

    mpeg movies of some simulations I coded a while back (Thank to Aaron Sloman for producing these)

    some personal pictures