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Department of Cognitive Science

Dr Ryan McKay

BSc (Hons) UWA, MClinPsych/PhD Macq.

Ryan McKay

Adjunct Supervisor

Contact Details

Office : W235
Phone : +44 1784 414 993
email : ryantmckay@mac.com; ryan.mckay@rhul.ac.uk
Homepage : http://tinyurl.com/ryan-mckay

External Address

Department of Psychology
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

I also have a profile at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

Profile

I moved to MACCS in 2000 to undertake my PhD in cognitive neuropsychiatry under the supervision of Professors Max Coltheart and Robyn Langdon. Afterwards I moved to London, where I worked as a Clinical Neuropsychologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square. I then relocated to Boston to take up a post as Research Associate with Professor Daniel Dennett at the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, before returning to Australia as a Lecturer in Psychology at Charles Sturt University. From September 2007 to September 2010 I was employed as a Research Fellow on a large collaborative project on religion, funded by the European Commission. For the first two years of this post I was based at the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Switzerland (with secondments at the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University Belfast, UK, and at the Department of Psychology, Yale University, USA). In Zurich I worked with Professor Ernst Fehr, using the methods of behavioural economics and experimental psychology to research connections between religion and prosocial behaviour. In the third year I was based at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford, where I worked with Professor Harvey Whitehouse's group, conducting experimental investigations in the cognitive science of religion. Since October, 2010, I have been employed as a Lecturer in Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Visits to Cognitive Science

  • 22nd of August 2011 - 26th of August 2011

External Appointments

  • Managing Editor of the Journal of the Cognitive Science of Religion. (2012 continuing)
  • Editorial Board of Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy. (2012 continuing)
  • Book Reviews Editor for Cognitive Neuropsychiatry. (2009 - 2013)

Grants Awarded

  • John Templeton Foundation Grant (2015 - 2017) "Toward an affective science of religion: The emotional causes and consequences of religious belief." (USD251,261) McKay, R., Jong, J., & Halberstadt, J. ($269,222)
  • ARC CCD Cross Program Support Scheme (2012) "Face perception, trust and paranoia." McKay, R., Coltheart, M., Langdon, R., Connaughton, E., & Rhodes, G. ($24,022)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Large Grant (2011 - 2013) "Ritual, community, and conflict." (£4 million grant at the University of Oxford to cover research time at Royal Holloway, University of London, £230,562). McKay, R. ($428,790)
  • Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project (University of Oxford) Research Grant (2009) McKay, R. ($10,000)
  • The British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (2008) McKay, R. ($1,200)
  • Institute of Psychiatry (2003) Half-time fellowship. McKay, R. ($20,000)
  • Macquarie University Postgraduate Research Fund (2003) McKay, R. ($4,000)
  • NISAD Postgraduate Scholarship for Schizophrenia Research (2002) McKay, R. ($2,500)

Media Engagement

Selected Publications

Book Chapters

  • McKay, R. (2013). Delusions. In H. Pashler, T. Crane, M. Kinsbourne, F. Ferreira & R. Zemel (Eds.), The encyclopedia of the mind (pp. 231-233). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2008). "Sleights of mind": Delusions and self-deception. In T.J. Bayne & J. Fernandez (Ed.), Delusions and self-deception: Affective influences on belief-formation. Macquarie Monographs in Cognitive Science (pp. 165-185). Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Langdon, R., McKay, R., & Coltheart, M. (2008). The cognitive neuropsychological understanding of persecutory delusions. In D. Freeman, R. Bentall, & P. Garety (Eds.), Persecutory delusions: Assessment, theory and treatment (pp. 221-236). UK: Oxford University Press.

Periodicals

  • Ross, R.M., McKay, R., Coltheart, M., & Langdon, R. (In Press). Jumping to conclusions about the beads task? A meta-analysis of delusional ideation and data-gathering. Schizophrenia Bulletin. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbu187
  • Farmer, H., McKay, R., & Tsakiris, M. (2014). Trust in me: Trustworthy others are seen as more physically similar to the self. Psychological Science, 25(1), 290-292. doi: 10.1177/0956797613494852
  • Bourne, V.J., & McKay, R.T. (2014). Paranoid males have reduced lateralisation for processing of negative emotions: An investigation using the chimeric faces test. Laterality, 19(2), 235-252. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2013.809728
  • Porubanova, M., Shaw, D.J., McKay, R., & Xygalatas, D. (2014). Memory for expectation-violating concepts: The effects of agents and cultural familiarity. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e90684. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090684
  • McKay, R., Buchmann, A., Germann, N., Yu, S., & Brugger, P. (In Press). Unrealistic optimism and 'nosognosia': Illness recognition in the healthy brain. Cortex.
  • Boudry, M., Vlerick, M., & McKay, R. (In Press). Can evolution get us off the hook? Evaluating the ecological defence of human rationality. Consciousness & Cognition.
  • van der Leer, L., Hartig, B., Goldmanis, M., & McKay, R. (2014). Delusion-proneness and 'jumping to conclusions': Relative and absolute effects. Psychological Medicine, 19, 257-267. doi:10.1017/S0033291714002359
  • McKay, R., & Whitehouse, H. (In Press). Religion and morality. Psychological Bulletin.
  • van der Leer, L., & McKay, R. (2013). “Jumping to conclusions” in delusion-prone participants: An experimental economics approach. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 19(3), 257-267. doi:10.1080/13546805.2013.861350
  • McKay, R., Herold, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2013). Catholic guilt? Recall of confession promotes prosocial behaviour. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 3(3), 201-209. doi:10.1080/2153599X.2012.739410
  • McKay, R., Tamagni, C., Palla, A., Krummenacher, P., Hegemann, S.C.A., Straumann, D., & Brugger, P. (2013). Vestibular stimulation attenuates unrealistic optimism. Cortex, 49(8), 2272–2275. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2013.04.005
  • Harrison, J., & McKay, R. (2013). Give me strength or give me a reason: Self-control, religion and the currency of reputation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(6), 688-689. doi:10.1017/S0140525X13001003
  • Harrison, J., & McKay, R.T. (2013). Do religious and moral concepts influence the ability to delay gratification? A priming study. Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis, 10(1), 25-40.
  • Xygalatas, D., & McKay, R. (2013). Announcing a new journal: The Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion (Editorial). Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 1(1), 1-4. doi:10.1558/jcsr.v1i1.1
  • McKay, R. (2012). Delusional inference. Mind & Language, 27(3), 330-355. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0017.2012.01447.x
  • Harrison, J., & McKay, R. (2012). Delay discounting rates are temporally stable in a matching procedure using theoretical and 'Area under the Curve' analyses. The Psychological Record, 62, 307-320.
  • Whitehouse, H., & McKay, R. (2012). Commentary on Pinker: The False Allure of Group Selection [Monograph]. Edge. [Link]
  • McKay, R., & Dennett, D. (2012). The sleep of reason: Do atheists improve the stock? (Commentary on Johnson). Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2(1), 78-80.
  • Coltheart, M., Langdon, R., & McKay, R. (2011). Delusional belief. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 271-298.
  • McKay, R., Mijovic-Prelec, D., & Prelec, D. (2011). Protesting too much: Self-deception and self-signaling. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34(1), 34-35. doi:10.1017/S0140525X10002608
  • Bourrat, P., Baumard, N., & McKay, R. (2011). Surveillance cues enhance moral condemnation. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), 193-199.
  • McKay, R. (2011). Isn't it ironic? A review of 'Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind'. Evolution & Human Behavior, 32, 444-446.
  • McKay, R., Efferson, C., Whitehouse, H., & Fehr, E. (2011). Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278, 1858–1863. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2125
  • McKay, R., Arciuli, J., Atkinson, A., Bennett, E. & Pheils, E. (2010). Lateralisation of self-esteem: An investigation using a dichotically presented auditory adaptation of the Implicit Association Test. Cortex, 46(3), 367-373.
  • McKay, R. & Kinsbourne, M. (2010). Confabulation, delusion, and anosognosia: Motivational factors and false claims. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 15(1), 288-318.
  • McKay, R. & Efferson, C. (2010). The subtleties of error management. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 309-319. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.04.005
  • McKay, R., & Dennett, D. (2009). The evolution of misbelief (Target article); Our evolving beliefs about evolved misbelief (Response to commentaries). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32(6), 493-561.
  • Baird, A.D., & McKay, R. (2008). Psychological factors in retrograde amnesia: Self-deception and a broken heart. Neurocase, 14(5), 400-413.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2008). Jumping to delusions? Paranoia, probabilistic reasoning and need for closure. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 12, 362-376.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2007). The defensive function of persecutory delusions: An investigation using the Implicit Association Test. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 12(1), 1-24.
  • McKay, R. & Cipolotti, L. (2007). Attributional style in a case of Cotard delusion. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, 349-359.
  • Coltheart, M., Langdon, R., & McKay, R. (2007). Schizophrenia and monothematic delusions. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 33, 642-647.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2007). Models of misbelief: Integrating motivational and deficit theories of delusions. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, 932-941.
  • McKay, R. & Anderson, M. (2007). Reconciling psychodynamic and neurological perspectives on denial. Cortex, 43, 1102-1103.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2006). Need for closure, jumping to conclusions and decisiveness in delusion-prone individuals. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(6), 422-426.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2006). The Persecutory Ideation Questionnaire. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(8), 628-631.
  • Dennett, D. & McKay, R. (2006). A continuum of mindfulness (Commentary on Mesoudi et al). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29(4), 353-354.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2005). "Sleights of mind": Delusions, defenses and self-deception. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 10, 305-326.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2005). Paranoia, persecutory delusions and attributional biases. Psychiatry Research, 10, 233-245.
  • McKay, R. (2004). Hallucinating God? The cognitive neuropsychiatry of religious belief and experience. Evolution and Cognition, 10(1), 114-125.
  • Rhodes, G., Yoshikawa, S., Clark, A., Lee, K., McKay, R., & Akamatsu, S. (2001). Attractiveness of facial averageness and symmetry in non-western cultures: In search of biologically based standards of beauty. Perception, 30, 611-625.
  • Rhodes, G., Zebrowitz, L.A., Clark, A., Kalick, S.M., Hightower, A., & McKay, R. (2001). Do facial averageness and symmetry signal health? Evolution and Human Behavior, 22(1), 31-46.

Published Abstracts

  • Baird, A., Kraiuhin, C., & McKay, R. (2011). Social factors in focal retrograde amnesia [Abstract]. Brain Impairment, 12, 16.
  • McKay, R., & Baird, A. (2008). Psychological factors in retrograde amnesia: Self-deception and a broken heart [Abstract]. Abstracts of the International Neuropsychological Society, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 14(Suppl. 2), S3.
  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2006). The defensive function of persecutory delusions: An investigation using the implicit association task [Abstract]. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 18(6), 261-262.
  • McKay, R. (2001). "Sleights of mind": Delusions and self-deception [Abstract]. Australian Journal of Psychology, 53(2), 123.

Published Conference Proceedings

  • McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2005). Models of misbelief: Integrating motivational and deficit theories of delusions. In K. Dautenhahn (Ed.), Proceedings of the symposium on Agents that want and like: Motivational and emotional roots of cognition and action (pp. 76-83). Hatfield, UK: Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence.

Conference Presentations, Colloquia, and other presentations

  • McKay, R. (2014, June). Ritual and the social brain: A psychological kinship account. Colloquium at the Summer School on "Shared experiences: The boundaries of the social brain", Aegina, Greece.
  • McKay, R. & Boudry, M. (2014, May). In defense of false beliefs? Colloquium at the Costs and Benefits of Imperfect Cognitions Workshop, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2014, February). Explaining Misbelief (or ‘Delusions, Positive Illusions and Jumps to Conclusions’) Colloquium at the Psychology Department Research Seminar, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK.
  • McKay, R., Connaughton, E., Langdon, R., Coltheart, M., Rhodes, G., & Todorov, A. (2013, November). Paranoia, face perception and trust. Paper presented at the 7th Australian Cognitive Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Research Forum (ACNCN), Sydney.
  • McKay, R. (2013, November). Delusions, positive illusions and jumps to conclusions: Understanding departures from rational belief. Keynote paper presented at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Annual Workshop, Sydney.
  • McKay, R. (2013, October). Delusions are radically different from normal beliefs (Debate). Invited paper presented at the Power and Pitfalls of Psychopathology: Marking 100 years since the publication of Karl Jaspers' General Psychopathology, London, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2013, September). Explaining misbelief. Keynote paper presented at the Workshop on the Differential Diagnosis of Delusions, Cracow, Poland.
  • McKay, R., Herold, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2013, August). Catholic guilt? Recall of confession promotes prosocial behaviour. Paper presented at the Congress of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR), Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • van der Leer, L., Hartig, B., Goldmanis, M. & McKay, R. (2013, June). Do delusion-prone participants jump to conclusions? Paper presented at the NeuroPsychoEconomics Conference, Bonn, Germany.
  • McKay, R. (2013, June). Delusions and other interesting beliefs. Keynote presentation given at the London Student Conferences: Psychology Day Conference, London, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2012, October). Delusional inference. Colloquium at the University of Bath, Bath, UK.
  • McKay, R., Efferson, C., & Fehr, E. (2012, June). ‘Shared delusions’: The evolution of costly social traditions. Paper presented at the Biological and Cultural Evolution and Their Interactions: Rethinking the Darwinian and Durkheimian Legacy in the Context of the Study of Religion Workshop, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
  • McKay, R. (2012, May). Religion, morality and parochial altruism. Paper presented at the Religion, Spirituality and Global Governance: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2012, April). Delusions and shared delusions. Presentation given at the Department of Psychology Research Seminar Series, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2012, March). Explaining misbelief. Presentation given at the University of Kent Research Seminar Series, Kent, UK.
  • McKay, R. (2012, February). Experimental methodologies in regard to ritual behaviour. Presentation given at the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion Seminar Series, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
  • McKay, R., Efferson, C., & Fehr, E. (2011, October). Shared delusions. Paper presented at the 17th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP), San Sebastian, Spain.
  • McKay, R. (2011, August). Explaining Misbelief. Invited paper presented at the Australian Cognitive Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry (ACNCN) Research Forum, Sydney.
  • Baird, A., Kraiuhin, C., & McKay, R. (2011, August). Deception of self and others in focal retrograde amnesia. Paper presented at the 6th Australian Cognitive Neuropsychology & Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Research Forum, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Baird, A., Kraiuhin, C., & McKay, R. (2011, July). Social factors in focal retrograde amnesia. Paper presented at the 4th Joint Meeting of the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment and the International Neuropsychological Society, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • McKay, R., Efferson, C. & Fehr, E. (2009, October). God’s Wrath: The Relationship Between Religion and Altruistic Punishment. Paper presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), Denver, USA.
  • McKay, R. & Dennett, D. (2009, March). The evolution of misbelief. Paper presented at the Perrott Warrick Workshop on Beliefs and Reason, Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.
  • McKay, R., & Baird, A. (2008, July). Psychological factors in retrograde amnesia: Self-deception and a broken heart. Paper presented at the International Neuropsychological Society, Sociedad de Neuropsicología de Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Further Information

Who is Visiting

Contact Details

Telephone: (02) 9850 9599
Fax : (02) 9850 6059
Email : cogsci@mq.edu.au
Web : www.cogsci.mq.edu.au