Dr Miriam Koschate-Reis
Lecturer in Social and Organisational Psychology

Research

Research interests

Dr Miriam Koschate undertakes interdisciplinary research into intra- and intergroup processes in social and organisational contexts.

1) Social identity markers: I am interested in the ways we identify ourselves to others as group members including the use of emotions, language, and behaviour. For instance, we are currently examining whether linguistic style can be used to detect which social identity was salient, using naturally occurring data (e.g., online posts, emails). This work is supported by an NPIF-EPSRC PhD studentship (Alicia Cork) in partnership with the National Crime Agency.

2) Social influence: I have also done work on the dynamics of synchronisation. Synchronisation often happens spontaneously, both in the animal kingdom and among humans. Synchrony has also been proposed (and shown) to lead to social cohesion and prosocial interactions. Our research looks at the conditions under which changes in bodily rhythm are maintained over longer periods of time using both social psychological theory and a cultural transmission framework. 

3) Intergroup Contact: Most of my work examines social interactions between members of different groups (e.g. work groups, disciplines, inter-generational) and effects on cooperation and helping behaviour. In particular, I have looked at the conditions under which intergroup contact predicts cooperation and positive attitudes (Koschate & van Dick, 2011) as well as different types of contact and their relationship with intergroup helping behaviour (Koschate, Oethinger, Kuchenbrandt, & van Dick, 2012). I am currently investigating which types of intergroup contact predict positive intergroup relations by using GPS tracking of real intergroup contact events (with Tina Keil, EPSRC doctoral student).

4) Human-Robot-Interaction: As part of a recent EPSRC grant, I conducted studies on human-robot interaction, specifically the 'uncanny valley'. We have found that the sense of eeriness or uncanniness stemming from highly humanlike robots can be successfully reduced by introducing emotional expressions (e.g. facial displays) (Koschate, Potter, Bremner, & Levine, 2016). As part of this work, we have collaborated with the @Bristol Science Museum to engage with the public (e.g., Mini Maker Fair).

Research projects

2013-2016: £2,044,337 EPSRC Research Grant - Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces (as Co-I; with Mark Levine, Danae Stanton Fraser, Hatice Gunes, Niki Trigoni, Ian Brown & Paul Bremner) 

2018-2022: £1,330,879 EPSRC Platform Grant - SAUSE: Secure, Adaptive, Usable Software Engineering (as Co-I); PI: Bashar Nuseibeh (Open University)

Research networks

Research collaborations

University of Exeter

Prof Mark Levine - CLES, Psychology, SEORG

Dr Heather O'Mahen - CLES, Psychology, Clinical Psychology

Dr Richard Everson - CEMPS, Computer Science

Dr Jon Cinnamon - CLES, Human Geography

National:

Dr Paul Bremner - UWE, Robotics

Dr Hatice Gunes - Cambridge, Engineering and Computer Science

Dr Zena Wood - University of Greenwich

Dr Laurissa Tokarchuk - QMUL, Computer Science

International:

Prof Rolf van Dick - Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Universitaet, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Dr Anja Eller - UNAM, Mexico

Research grants

  • 2017 EPSRC
    In the last decade, the role of software engineering has changed rapidly and radically. Globalisation and mobility of people and services, pervasive computing, and ubiquitous connectivity through the Internet have disrupted traditional software engineering boundaries and practices. People and services are no longer bound by physical locations. Computational devices are no longer bound to the devices that host them. Communication, in its broadest sense, is no longer bounded in time or place. The Software Engineering & Design (SEAD) group at the Open University (OU) is leading software engineering research in this new reality that requires a paradigm shift in the way software is developed and used. This platform grant will grow and sustain strategic, multi-disciplinary, crosscutting research activities that underpin the advances in software engineering required to build the pervasive and ubiquitous computing systems that will be tightly woven into the fabric of a complex and changing socio-technical world. In addition to sustaining and growing the SEAD group at the OU and supporting its continued collaboration with the Social Psychology research group at the University of Exeter, the SAUSE platform will also enable the group to have lasting impact across several application domains such as healthcare, aviation, policing, and sustainability. The grant will allow the team to enhance the existing partner networks in these areas and to develop impact pathways for their research, going beyond the scope and lifetime of individual research projects.
  • 2013 EPSRC
    A vibrant, open and inclusive public space is central to the social and economic health of society. However, developments in digital technology have begun to undermine some aspects of a progressive public space. For example, technologies now allow us to be tracked, surveilled, profiled and socially sorted as we move through public space. At the same time there is a sense that public space has moved elsewhere. The rise of the internet and increasing digital hyperconnectivity has led some to argue that virtual connected networks (rather than physical public space) are where the public realm can now be found. In this project, we set out to reclaim the public realm as a physical space for interaction designed to contribute to the public good. The project will enhance the public realm as a space where people can interact under the appropriate conditions of privacy and equality; where the social and economic benefits of contact are maximised, and where barriers to participation are reduced. In doing so we will create a 'model' public space that will also function as a living laboratory. We will equip the living lab with the capacity to track micro-contacts between multiple individuals in real time, and at the same time to capture and process information about the emotional and nonverbal communicative qualities of behaviours across time. In order to preserve privacy without losing critical aspects of personal interactivity we will design protocols which combine data minimization and decentralized data storage with the consensual sharing of information. This will allow us to conduct a series of experiments on the conditions under which contact in public places can produce greater social cohesion and integration. These experiments will draw on the extensive anthropological and psychological literature for the importance of behavioural synchrony for social cohesion and community relations. We will use techniques to manipulate synchronous (and asynchronous) rhythmic behavioural engagement in the public space (marching in step, tapping/clapping, waving). We will use our digitally augmented public space to derive implicit measures (such as physical proximity, remote sensing of emotional tone, physiological measures) of the effectiveness of different interventions for promoting social cohesion. As a way of increasing access to public space we will also examine the social and technological aspects of being able to appear in public in proxy forms. In particular we will consider the challenges of having robot proxies in public spaces. We will explore the challenges of veridical robot presence 'in the wild'. We will investigate what motions and behaviours must be transferred to the proxy from the remote user, and synchronised with speech, to enable interactions. We will also conduct experiments which explore challenges around understanding trust in social settings inhabited by shared proxies. Finally, we will develop a framework for understanding the impact of privacy and anonymity in human-robot interactions. In order to maximise the impact of the research we will engage in partnership with i-Shed in Bristol. iShed was established by Watershed (a cross artform venue and producer based in Bristol) in 2007 to produce creative technology collaborations. Together we have designed a program of impact activities to engage with creative economy SME's and micro-companies as well as artists and community representatives. Through the creation of public space events we will also seek to make an impact on public space policy and practice including governments, policy makers and regulatory bodies as well as the media.

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