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Professor Stephen Lea

Professor Stephen Lea

Emeritus Professor of Psychology

 Washington Singer 124


Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK



MA PhD (Cantab) FBPsS CPsychol FAcSS


I have been a Professor of Psychology at Exeter since 1990, and have held the offices of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (2000-03), Dean of the Faculty of Science (1993-96) and Head of the Department, later School, of Psychology (1983-88 and 2005-10).  Before joining Exeter as a Lecturer in 1976, I held the post of University Demonstrator in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge (1971-76).  I retired from my full time post 2011, but continued to work in Psychology on a part-time basis until June 2015; I will be continuing to carry out academic work in the department as an Emeritus Professor.


Research group links

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Research interests

Animal Cognition and Behaviour, especially Concept discrimination and foraging decisions in birds and mammals.

Economic Psychology, especially the psychology of money and money management, and intertemporal choice.

My current research includes:

Animal Cognition and Behaviour:

  • Comparative aspects of concept discrimination
  • Diving in birds especially cormorants and shags
  • Cognitive processes in Oystercatchers' foraging

Economic Psychology:

  • Adolescents' and students' money management
  • The Psychology of money
  • Debt, poverty and homelessness
  • Compliance with fraud

Research projects

Persuasive techniques used in fraudulent communications, and their effects

Students' attitudes and behaviour towards personal finance

Foraging in water birds, especially diving birds

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External Engagement and Impact

Committee/panel activities

Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences (2002)

Founder member of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology (IAREP); President, 2003-05; Executive committee member 2002-06.

Editorial responsibilities

Member of the Editorial boards of: Animal Cognition Journal of Economic Psychology, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

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Animal Behaviour

Economic Psychology



Information not currently available

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Supervision / Group


  • Kathy Baker
  • David Crelley
  • David Gordon
  • David Modic
  • Richard Skinner joint with Theology
  • Joanne Wilshaw

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Office Hours:

I normally come into the Washington Singer Labs on Tuesdays.  The best time to find me in my office is between 1.30pm and 2.30pm.  However, if I'm around and not already meeting someone else, I'll be happy to talk to you at any time.

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