Alyson Norman Hotseat

Alyson’s Bio is available on the University website.

Today I met with Alyson. We talked about her psychological interests, what she likes to do in her spare time and 


Alyson’s area of interest is Appearance Psychology. At University she works on Cognitive Psychology and facial differences. She attended Exeter where she completed her Masters in Psych Research, and gained a PhD in Designing and Delivering Intervention with regard to visual differences. Alyson did this with the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. She considers this to be an important area of Psychology.

Her other area of interest is brain injury. Alyson’s brother was involved in a road traffic accident when Alyson was just twelve, and suffered a significant brain injury. She suggests it may be possible that this is what inspired her to head down the path of Psychology. Whilst at Exeter, she met a Professor who gave her the opportunity to conduct research in the area and since moving to Plymouth is now able to research the area more.

In her spare time…

Alyson fundraises for Headway. In fact, the School have a team that are doing the Dragon boat race in Taunton to raise money for those with brain injury, so please feel free to head over to the teams JustGiving page and support the cause!

Interesting Facts…

Alyson’s first career choice was medicine. Originally she wanted to be a surgeon, but unfortunately she made the wrong choice of A- levels to be able to pursue her dream further! She did get another opportunity to go for it, but decided not to due to her young family.

She also has a counselling business, which can be found here, where she provides Person Centred Therapy and CBT. Her clients can choose which type of therapy they’d prefer, but Alyson’s therapy of choice is CBT.



Alyson believes it is important that students are aware of the fact the faculty have a life away from University and was happy to discuss her family

Alyson lives on Stathe Farm in Somerset with her husband and two young sons, one who is 4 years old and the other who is 18 months. Her youngest son was rather poorly before Christmas which unfortunately required a hospital stay. But thankfully he is better now! They spend a lot of their time on the farm and love camping, as well as other outdoor activities.

Inspirational Individuals…

The person Alyson would like to spend an hour on a bench with is Martin Seligman, who is known to most psychology students. She went to a conference he hosted and found him very interesting. She would love to ask him how he got to where he is, and also about being one of the pioneers of positive psychology (he admits even he has to work hard at being positive)!

Quick Fire!

If you were an alcoholic drink, what would you be?
A Blue Hawaiian because she is quite fun with a bit of a kick!

What was the last thing you ate?
A dairy free raspberry yoghurt

Chinese/Italian                 Italian

Introvert/extravert          Introvert

Vanilla/chocolate             Vanilla

Silver/gold                          Silver

Wine/beer                          Wine

Soduko/crosswords         Soduko

Cats/dogs                           Cats

Bond/Bourne                     Bond

Adventurous/cautious     Adventurous

Saver/spender                   Saver

Denim/leather                   Denim

Fiction/Non- fiction         Non-fiction

On a more serious note…

Before we wrapped up, I discussed exams with Alyson. I was interested to see if academics take it personally or get offended when people don’t excel at their chosen subject. She suggests these exams are not a big difference to A-Level exams, and it is a good idea to think about and use feedback in preparation for the next one.

Students need to think about the question, and ensure their answers tie back to the question. She also suggests making a rough plan before you begin, as marks can be given based on that if things do not appear in the answer. She assures me that she does try to give marks wherever possible!

Thank you for your time, Alyson!



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