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Dr James Close

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Psychology and Sport Science
Areas of Expertise:
Research Supervision:

James is a cognitive and comparative psychologist interested in the development and evolution of cognition and prosociality. His research is focussed on understanding the factors which drive the categorisation and prosocial behaviours of animals and humans.

[email protected]

View James' ResearchGate profile

View James' ORCID profile


James obtained his PhD in Psychology at Cardiff University in 2010. His PhD investigated the flexibility of rat and human cognition, and some of the drivers of categorisation behaviour in the absence of feedback.

Subsequently, James was as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), Leipzig, Germany, until 2012. At the MPI-EVA, James worked with Professor Josep Call to compare the cognitive abilities of apes and humans using a touch-screen computer.

At the end of his fellowship at the MPI-EVA, James sought to develop his teaching skills and travel. He completed the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) at Cambridge Regional College (CRC), Cambridge, UK. After a short period of time teaching English at EF International Language Centre, Cambridge, UK, James moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where he taught English at ACT-Bell Language Centre until 2017.

Although James enjoyed his time as an English teacher, the allure of psychology was too great, and in 2018, he took up a lectureship in the Department of Psychology at Webster University, Cha-am/Bangkok, Thailand, where he was also appointed to the role of Program Coordinator for Psychology. In 2021, James returned to the UK as a Lecturer in Psychology at ARU.

Along with his research on categorisation and comparative cognition, more recently, James has broadened his interests to investigate factors which affect humans’ prosociality – behaviours which benefit others.

Research interests
  • The development and evolution of cognition
  • Categories and concepts
  • Similarity
  • The development and evolution of prosociality
  • Religion
Areas of research supervision
  • Unsupervised/spontaneous categorisation
  • Fostering prosocial behaviour
  • Fostering pro-environmental behaviour
  • Becoming a Researcher
  • Brain, Body and Mind
  • Mind and Behaviour
  • Research in Action: Statistical Thinking
  • PhD Psychology, Cardiff University. Thesis: “Unsupervised categorisation and cross-classification in humans and rats”.
  • BSc Applied Psychology, Cardiff University.
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) scholarship (1 March – 30 June 2010). Grant value: €4,000.

Selected recent publications

Hodgetts, C. J., Close, J. O. E. and Hahn, U. (2023) 'Similarity and structured representation in human and nonhuman apes', Cognition, 236, 105419. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2023.105419

Close, J. and Call, J. (2015) 'From colour photographs to black-and-white line drawings: an assessment of chimpanzees’ (Pan troglodytes’) transfer behaviour', Animal Cognition, 18, pp. 437-449. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007%2Fs10071-014-0813-5

Close, J. (2013) 'Teaching old dogs new tricks', The Naked Scientists.

Close, J. and Pothos, E. M. (2012). '"Object Categorization: Reversals and Explanations of the Basic-Level Advantage" (Rogers & Patterson, 2007): A simplicity account', The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(8), pp. 1615-1632. https://doi.org/10.1080%2F17470218.2012.660963

Close, J., Hahn, U., Hodgetts, C. and Pothos, E. M. (2010) 'Rules and similarity in adult concept learning'. In: Mareschal, D., Quinn P. C. and Lea, S. E. G. (Eds.), The making of human concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 29-51. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549221.003.03

Honey, R. C., Close, J. and Lin, T. C. E. (2010) 'Acquired distinctiveness and equivalence: a synthesis'. In: Mitchell, C. J. and Le Pelley, M. E. (Eds.), Attention and Associative Learning. From Brain to Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 159-186.

Close, J., Hahn, U. and Honey, R. C. (2009) 'Contextual modulation of stimulus generalization in rats', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35(4), pp. 509-515. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015489

Hahn, U., Close, J., and Graf, M. (2009) 'Transformation direction influences shape-similarity judgments', Psychological Science, 20(4), pp. 447-454. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fj.1467-9280.2009.02310.x

Pothos, E. M. and Close, J. (2008) 'One or two dimensions in spontaneous classification: A simplicity approach', Cognition, 107(2), pp. 581-602. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2007.11.007

Grand, C., Close, J., Hale, J. and Honey, R. C. (2007) 'The role of similarity in human associative learning', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 33(1), pp. 64-71. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1037/0097-7403.33.1.64

Recent presentations and conferences

Close, J. O. E. and Klieb, L. (2020) 'The Relationship between Risk Preference and Religiosity in Thailand' [paper presentation], International Conference on Spirituality and Psychology 2020, Bangkok, Thailand.

Close, J. (2019) 'Being Mindful of Mindfulness' [paper presentation], International Conference on Spirituality and Psychology 2019, Bangkok, Thailand

Close, J., Hahn, U. and Honey, R. C. (2010) 'The Influence of Within-Category Structure on Stimulus Similarity and Stimulus Generalization', Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 32(32), pp. 1619-1624.