Dean Petters

Dr Dean Petters

Senior Lecturer in Psychology


 My current teaching is focused around Cognitive Psychology (emotion and cognition, decision making, problem solving, vision, consciousness, cognitive aspects of cyberpsychology); and Attachment Theory (social and emotional development, caregiving, attachment-based therapies, and romantic relationships.). I supervise research projects in: Attachment Theory.



In 2006 I gained a PhD in Cognitive Science (in Computer Science) from University of Birmingham. This involved computational modelling of infant-mother attachment using autonomous agents. Since then I have developed this research and in March 2019 I received the Bowlby-Ainsworth award for research in Attachment Theory. For explorations into the history, requirements, and prospects for computational modelling of human attachment. The Bowlby-Ainsworth award program was initiated fifteen years ago to recognise and promote contributions to John Bowlby's and Mary Ainsworth's ground-breaking work on the nature of human attachment relationships.

After my PhD I undertook postdoctoral research in visual object recognition (involving empirical work and computational modelling using artificial neural networks); research in technology enhanced learning (especially open learner modelling and learning activity visualisation); and research on social competency training for autistic and typically developing children using shared active surfaces and virtual reality games. I have lectured in core psychology areas ranging from cognitive and biological psychology to social and developmental psychology. Plus also developed teaching material in Cyberpsychology and Psychopathology. 

Before starting at Sheffield Hallam University I have tutored with the Open University and lectured at University of Birmingham, Newman University, University of Northampton, Birmingham City University, University of Wolverhampton, and with a short stint as Programme Team Leader for Psychology at Arden University – responsible for the suite of 7 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in psychology. In my teaching I have got involved in developing e-learning materials.  This includes at Birmingham City University acting as Faculty Academic Lead for Technology Enhanced learning. and Faculty Academic Lead for Curriculum Development.



College of Social Sciences and Arts


Journal articles

de Melo, C., Petters, D., Parthemore, J., Moffatt, D., & Becker-Asano, C. (2021). Introduction to the special issue on computational modelling of emotion. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 12 (2), 277-278.

Waters, E., & Petters, D. (2021). Cornerstones and discourses in attachment study: celebrating the publication of a new landmark. Attachment and Human Development, 23 (4), 404-411.

Petters, D. (2019). The attachment control system and computational modeling: Origins and prospects. Developmental Psychology, 55 (2), 227-239.

Petters, D. (2016). An encounter between 4e cognition and attachment theory. Connection Science, 28 (4), 387-409.

Jüttner, M., Wakui, E., Petters, D., & Davidoff, J. (2016). Developmental Commonalities between Object and Face Recognition in Adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.

(2014). From Animals to Robots and Back: Reflections on Hard Problems in the Study of Cognition. .

Jüttner, M., Petters, D., Wakui, E., & Davidoff, J. (2014). Late development of metric part-relational processing in object recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40 (4), 1718-1734.

Wells, S. (2010). Foreword. Shakespeare, 6 (3), 275-276.

Petters, D., Waters, E., & Schönbrodt, F. (2010). Strange carers. Interaction Studies, 11 (2), 246-252.

Petters, D., & Waters, E. (2009). Modeling, simulating, and simplifying links between stress, attachment, and reproduction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32 (1), 39-40.

Conference papers

Petters, D., & Jung, A. (2021). Is the church turing thesis a red herring for cognitive science? AISB Convention 2021: Communication and Conversations, 162-165.

Larue, O., West, R., Rosenbloom, P.S., Dancy, C.L., Samsonovich, A.V., Petters, D., & Juvina, I. (2018). Emotion in the Common Model of Cognition. Procedia Computer Science, 145, 740-746.

Petters, D., & Jung, A. (2018). From the Chinese room argument to the church-turing thesis. Proceedings of AISB Annual Convention 2018, 291-295.,%20Language%20and%20Action%20-%20AISB2018.pdf

Petters, D., & Waters, E. (2013). Epistemic actions in attachment relationships and the origin of the socially extended mind. Re-Conceptualizing Mental "Illness": The View from Enactivist Philosophy and Cognitive Science - AISB Convention 2013, 17-22.

Petters, D., & Waters, E. (2010). AI, Attachment Theory and simulating secure base behaviour: Dr. Bowlby meet the reverend Bayes. Proceedings of the International Symposium on AI Inspired Biology - A Symposium at the AISB 2010 Convention, 51-58.

Petters, D. (2004). Simulating infant-carer relationship dynamics. AAAI Spring Symposium - Technical Report, 2, 114-121.

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