John Kiat

Sometimes you just start up a conversation that leads to an interesting idea. Before you know it, a research project is ongoing.  I enjoy being part of the collaborative process in many roles, from data analysis to theoretical framing. Aside from numerous past collaborations, I’m currently involved with research investigating the environmental effects on inhibitory processing with Dr. Julia Torquati & Dr. Anne Schutte Facial processing & Schizotypy with Dr. Charles Davidson and a project assessing the neural correlates of gradual change blindness in collaboration with Dr. Jacob Cheadle & Dr. Michael Dodd. I’ve also done some fun work on improving the perceptions of undergraduates towards statistics and exploring unexpected influences on student test performance.


A lot of studies investigating the neural processes underlying change blindness are really more change detection studies involving the presentation of two images with an intervening visual disruption like a blank screen. I wanted to know what was going on during gradual change blindness, when things were changing right in front of our eyes often without being noticed….an obvious example below….


A slightly harder one here…though the GIF artifacts do make it a little easier… Take my word for it… people miss close to 90% of these under testing conditions… (;


Since I couldn’t find a paper on the topic that did investigate what I was curious about I developed some materials and collected a bunch of EEG data while people watched them trying to catch the changes. Data collection on this project recently completed and I’m currently in the process of writing the manuscript up for this one…. stay tuned to this space for future updates!

Kiat, J.E, Dodd, M.D., Belli, R.F. Cheadle, J.E. The Neural Signature of Undetected Change: The Electrotomography of Gradual Change Blindness. (in preparation)


I’ve loved statistics as far back as I remember. There was even a time when I was heading towards doing a doctorate in quantitative methods before shifting over to my current focus. Sadly, not everyone shares this love and back in my post-undergraduate/pre-graduate transition days as a tutor I collaborated with Dr. Albert Liau to see if we could identify what in-class methods were most effective in shifting folks towards having a more positive view of statistics. This one dates wayyyy back to my raw new-at-the-gig undergraduate days so it’s a little rough but if you’re interested, do feel free to check it out~!

Liau, A.K., Kiat, J.E., Nie, Y. (2014). Investigating the Pedagogical Approaches Related to Changes in Attitudes Toward Statistics in a Quantitative Methods Course for Psychology Undergraduate Students. The AsiaPacific Education Researcher,24(2): 319-327. doi: 10.1007/s40299-014-0182-5.

This was a fun little project to run. As a student I used to wonder if all the randomized order tests that were being given out actually had some sort of impact on test performance. Think of it this way. If you read a reasonable sounding albeit incorrect answer early on in the list it’s not unreasonable to argue that you might end up being more likely to pick that response relative to a situation where you read it late in the list. This could happen either through satisficing or memory interference effects. I got together with a bunch of graduate student friends and thanks to Winnee Cheong allowing us to collect data in her class, we ran a published a study showing that this indeed true, with strong distractors being more likely to be selected when read earlier in the list.

Kiat, J. E., Ong, A. R., & Ganesan, A. (2017). The influence of Distractor Strength and Placement on MCQ Responding. Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.


Don’t you just love a good long walk out in nature? There’s recently been a great deal of interest on the restorative effects of natural environments on psychological function. In a collaboration with Julia Torquati and Anne Schutte (my primary role was being the EEG guy), we looked at how ERP responses related to attentional focus to various measures of attention and inhibitory control in children differed between indoor and outdoor environments. Intriguingly, while behavioral performance did not differ as a function of environment, levels of task-related attention were lower outdoors. These findings suggest that perhaps for some tasks, we can afford to relax a little and mentally stretch our legs, something perhaps facilitated by being outdoors, with less of a performance cost then we might think!

Schutte, A., Torquati, J., Kiat, J.E. (2017). The influence of Indoor and Natural Environments on Children’s Executive Function and Event-Related Potentials. Children, Youth & Environments, 27(2).