• FHEA (2000): Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, U.K.

  • Ph.D. (1998): Categorization: From Features to Decisions. Cambridge University, U.K.

  • B.Sc. (1993): Psychology (2i). Southampton University, U.K.

Employment history

  • University of Plymouth, U.K. (2012 - 2024): Professor

  • University of Exeter, U.K. (2000 - 2012) : Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor

  • Emmanuel College, Cambridge, U.K. (1998 - 2000) : Junior Research Fellow

Leadership experience

  • Associate Head of School (Research) and Senior Management Group (2017, 2024)

  • REF coordinator (2017-2024). Against a challenging environment, we improved our position in REF2021, including a doubling of research income.

  • Line management (2021-2023). Junior staff members in School of Psychology, University of Plymouth.

  • Chair of Curriculum Review Steering Group (2016-2017). Largest change to the undergraduate psychology curriculum at Plymouth for a generation.

  • Associate Head of School (Teaching) and Senior Management Group (2006-2012). School of Psychology rose from mid-table to Top 10 during my tenure.

Professional memberships

  • Cognitive Science Society (1997-): Member

  • Experimental Psychology Society (2001-): Member (nominated)

  • Psychonomic Society (2010-): Fellow (elected)


  • Experience: 25 years teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students about: Foundations of Psychology, Research Methods, Critical Thinking, Cognitive Psychology, and Aspects of Consciousness.

  • Publishing: I curate, and largely wrote, Research Methods in R, a substantial set of freely available online worksheets aimed at undergraduate psychology students.

  • External examining (UG, Psychology): Kingston University (2012-2015), Lincoln University (2017 – 2020).

Research interests

I work on the psychology and neuroscience of learning. More specifically:

  • Attention and learning. The re-allocation of visual attention in response to errors usually supports fast, efficient learning, but can also lead to systemtically irrational behaviour under certain conditions. Recent review: Le Pelley, Mitchell, Beesley, George & Wills (2016). Attention and associative learning in humans. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 1111-1140.

  • Computational modelling of categorization. Improving the quality and impact of computational modelling in psychology. Key paper: Wills & Pothos (2012). On the adequacy of current empirical evaluations of formal models of categorization. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 102-125. Key resource: catlearn - An R package for computational modelling, downloaded 26,000 times.

  • Object classification. Object classification involves synthesis of object representations over time, not analysis of initially holistic forms. Key paper: Wills, Inkster & Milton (2015). Combination or Differentiation? Cognitive Psychology, 80, 1-33.

  • Dual-process theory. Existing evidence for dual-process theories of learning and categorization is flawed, I aim to develop more adequate procedures. Recent commentary: Wills, Edmunds, Le Pelley, Milton, Newell, Dwyer & Shanks (2019). Dissociable learning processes, associative theory, and testimonial reviews Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26, 1988-1993.


2017-2020: Learning from total failure. ESRC. £356,776.

2010-2013: The Exeter Science Exchange. EPSRC. £489,676.

2011: Confidential domestic security project. QinetiQ. £450,000.

2011: IED threat awareness. CDE (Defence). £60,000

2009-2010: Neuroscience of human associative learning. British Council. £13,734.

2006-2007: Unsupervised categorization. ESRC. £69,161.

2005-2006: From rules to associations. EC (FP6). EUR 1.3 million.

2002-2004. Acquisition of polymorphous categories. BBSRC. £81,316.

Awards, recognition

2020: Best Article Award, Psychonomic Society.

2018: Highly-cited (top 1%) paper on Web of Science.

Ph.D. students

Gokcek Kul (current), Lenard Dome (2023), Stuart Spicer (2020), Angus Inkster (2019), Charlotte Edmunds (2016), Henrietta Roberts (2014), Fayme Yeates (2014), Fraser Milton (2006), Alice Welham (2005), Kazuhiro Goto (2004).

bold = now a faculty member; italic = now a post-doc.

Professional activities

  • External peer review: Around 20 articles a year, for various high-profile psychology journals, plus around 5 grant applications a year, for ESRC and various national funders worldwide.

  • Ph.D. examination: Around one Ph.D. examination a year, for various Russell Group universities.

Invited lectures and workshops

2023: Invited seminar, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

2023: Invited seminar and workshop, Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität Kaiserslautern-Landau, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

2022: Invited lecture, UCL, London.

2022: Invited lecture, Radboud University, Nijmegen, online.

2022: Invited lecture, Nottingham Trent University, online.

2021: Invited lecture, University of Exeter, UK.

2021: Invited lecture, Lancaster University, online.

2020: Invited lecture, Cambridge University, online.

2019: Tagung Experimentell Arbeitender Psychologen (TEAP) conference, London.

2019: Open science symposium, Ghent University.

2019: Departmental seminar, Lancaster University.

2019: PRomoting Open Science PRactices (PROSPR) seminars, Lancaster University.

2017: Math Psych conference, Warwick.

2017: Departmental seminar, University of Zurich.

2017: International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna.

2017: Departmental seminar, Cardiff University.

2017: Open Science Group seminar, Cardiff University.

2017: Departmental seminar, Bristol University.

2016: Categorization workshop, Exeter University.

2015: International Convention of Psychological Science, Amsterdam.

2013: Animal Behaviour Expert Meeting, Ghent.

2013: Learning Through Instructions Expert Meeting, Ghent.

2012: American Psychological Association, Florida.

2012: Eastern Psychological Association, Pittsburgh.

2012: Departmental seminar, Southampton University.

2011: Departmental seminar, Bristol University.

2010: Departmental seminar, Nottingham University.

2009: Categorization Group seminar, New York University.

2009: Departmental seminar, National University Singapore.

2008: Departmental seminar, University of Swansea.

2007: MIRCE Academy Workshop, Exeter.

2007: FAR workshop, Amsterdam.

2006: Departmental seminar, Indiana University.

2006: AISB workshop, Bristol.

2006: Associative Learning workshop, Cambridge.

2005: Departmental seminar, Max Planck, Tubigen.

2005: Departmental seminar, National University of Singapore.

2004: Human Associative Learning workshop, Lignely.

2004: Departmental seminar, Royal Holloway.

2002: Categorisation symposium, UCL.

2001: Departmental seminar, Bristol University.

1998: Departmental seminar, Warwick University.

1998: GluckLab seminar, Rutgers University.

1997: Departmental seminar, Southampton University.

Conference presentations

2021: Experimental Psychology Society, Online.

2020: Open Research Working Group, MRC-CBU, Cambridge (Virtual meeting).

2019: Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference (ASIC), Austria.

2018: Experimental Psychology Society, London.

2018: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2017: Experimental Psychology Society, London.

2017: Associative Learinng Symposium, Wales.

2017: International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna.

2016: Experimental Psychology Society, London.

2016: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2015: Experimental Psychology Society, Lincoln.

2015: Experimental Psychology Society, London.

2015: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2014: Cognitive Science Society, Quebec.

2014: Associative Learnig Symposium, Wales.

2013: Experimental Psychology Society, Lancaster.

2013: Associative Learning Sympoium, Wales.

2012: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2011: Cognitive Science Society, New York.

2011: Experimental Psychology Society, Oxford.

2011: Psychonomic Society, Seattle.

2010: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2010: Psychonomic Society, St. Louis.

2009: Psychonomic Society, Boston.

2009: Cognitive Science Society, Amsterdam.

2009: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2008: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2007: Cognitive Science Society, Nashville.

2007: Psychonomic Society, Edinburgh.

2007: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2006: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2006: Cognitive Science Society, Vancouver.

2005: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2004: Cognitive Science Society, Chicago.

2004: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2004: Experimental Psychology Society, Lancaster.

2003: Experimental Psychology Society, Exeter.

2002: Cognitive Science Society, Washington.

2002: Experimental Psychology Society, Cambridge.

2002: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2001: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

2000: Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia.

2000: Experimental Psychology Society, Cambridge.

2000: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

1999: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

1998: Associative Learning Symposium, Wales.

1998: Comparative Psychology Society, Granada.

1997: Cognitive Science Society, Stanford.

1996: Comparative Psychology Society, Malaga.

1995: Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Group, London.