UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab

The UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab combines cutting-edge lab equipment and the innovative expertise of UQ researchers to provide valuable insight into human behaviour that can be leveraged by industry partners.

Having reliable, research-supported evidence to inform design features and likely uptake of future product developments is just one of the invaluable insights UQ researchers can offer industry partners seeking to pilot their innovations using the UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab.

The UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab is supported by a generous donation from Mr Matt McLennan, Co-Head of the Global Value Team at First Eagle Investment Management, Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) ’91 and Master of International Commercial Law ’17.

Why work with us

The UQ Behavioural Science lab welcomes industry collaboration and consultancy work. Complemented by the vast range of academic expertise across multiple business disciplines, our state-of-the-art lab methodologies guarantee quality human behavioural insight and research outcomes for both academe and industry.

We can answer a multitude of questions and provide optimal research-led solutions to a variety of problems faced by our industries including organisational performance.

There are over 150 academic researchers in the UQ Business School whose expertise extends across a variety of fields. All our specialists are highly experienced in research design, guaranteeing the reliability and validity of our research outcomes.

Utilising lab-based technologies, we can determine how our subjects actually think and behave rather than relying on what they say they are thinking and how they intend to behave. These lab technologies remove the subjectivity and response bias that can often be encountered when running self-report studies, resulting in research you can trust.

The UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab provides researchers with the ability to:

  1. Simulate the rapidly developing technological advancements occurring across almost every sector
  2. Explore human behaviour across a range of fields, including:
    • consumer behaviour
    • banking and finance
    • digital design
    • trust, ethics and governance
    • artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. Predict societal responses to a wide range of technological innovations prior to their implementation
  4. Evaluate objective, unbiased responses to stimuli and gain highly reliable data pertaining to the effectiveness of multiple interventions designed to transform societies.

Why use psycho-physiological measures in research?

  1. Objectivity: Psychophysiological measures do not rely on memory and cognitive processing and enable researchers to gather data that are beyond an individual’s conscious control.
  2. Continuity: Psychophysiological measures are capable of tracking individuals’ moment-to-moment responses, which allows the researchers to visualize respondents’ response flow patterns across time.
  3. Comprehensiveness: Psychophysiological techniques are not only able to measure responses that respondents are consciously aware of, but also are capable of detecting these unconscious responses.


For more information about how you can collaborate with a UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab specialist, please contact our Lab Director, Associate Professor Gabby Walters by emailing behaviouralsciencelab@business.uq.edu.au.

Associate Professor Gabby Walters – Director, UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab

Associate Professor Gabby Walters is the founder and Director of the UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab.  She is highly proficient in research design that incorporates physiological measurement techniques that allow for the simulation and measurement of consumer experience in a lab environment and in the real-world settings. Over the past 6 years, since the Lab’s inception, Gabby has collaborated with several UQ Business School colleagues to continually extend the selection of equipment and software available to UQ researchers. She is recognised as a prolific researcher in lab-based methods within her discipline of tourism and has delivered several keynotes and academic seminar series on this approach in both China and the US. Gabby looks forward to engaging with fellow academics and industry partners to produce quality research outcomes that are informed by lab-based methodologies. 


Associate Professor Nicole Hartley – Robotics and AI specialist

Associate Professor Nicole Hartley is our robotics and AI specialist. Her specific research interests include service technology, virtualised services, customer-brand relationships, message framing, new media and service innovation. Nicole's current research agenda focuses upon exploring customer perceptions of the advent of technology and various forms of disruption in the delivery of services. This research is currently focused within the education, tourism and health industries.




Yawei Jiang – Senior Lab Coordinator

Yawei is a PhD candidate at the UQ Business School. Her research interests include strategic management in tourism crisis and disasters, organisational recovery and resilience in managing environmental uncertainties. Yawei has been working as the lab coordinator and trainer for the UQBS behavioural science laboratory since 2017. She equipped herself with various biometric research methods and attained the IMOTIONS Academy Certificate in May 2020. She has helped with several projects that collect data from eye-tracking, skin conductance, and electromyography and helps lab equipment training for both researchers and students across the University.



James Tarbit – Lab Coordinator

James “Jimmy” Tarbit is a PhD Candidate at the UQ Business School, specialising in the field of services marketing. His research areas include role adoption and user acceptance of emergent technologies in the workplace, and social interactivity involving new technologies. Jimmy specialises in a range of technologies including exoskeletons, brain-scanning EEGs and virtual reality systems.








Using Eye Tracking to understand how consumers interpret Greenwashing

Greenwashing is becoming a concerning issue for environmental conservation organisations and in particular not-for-profit entities who rely heavily on donations for their everyday operations. This study examined how wildlife tourists perceive and interpret greenwashing verses genuine content. Respondents were asked to consider these two kinds of content via two Koala conservation campaign websites (one featuring false and fraudulent information and one featuring genuine content) purposefully created for this study.

Using Eye Tracking technology in the UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab, we were able to reveal that consumers are unable to distinguish between genuine and greenwashing information. More importantly, and of great concern, is that there was no difference in the donation behaviour of those who viewed the greenwashing content and those who viewed the genuine content. The eye tracking data were able to inform the researchers of the specific information respondents focused on before deciding to donate to the cause which enabled us to identify the specific features of greenwashing content most likely to mislead consumers.

Such insight is highly valuable for those responsible for designing genuine conservation content as well as those seeking to educate consumers on how to identify real verses false and misleading information when considering donating to a cause. For more information about the procedures used and the outcomes of this study, please contact Mr Manomay Chasker at m.chasker@uq.edu.au.

Humanoid Service Social Robots could potentially have deep-seated psychological effects on consumers

Research into the sphere of humanoid service robots (e.g., Pepper) and their potential integration into the service industry is growing. Like other disruptive technologies that have replaced human service workers in the past (e.g., ATMs and bank teller staff), the usage of these humanoid robots could permanently change the attitudes and behaviours of consumers of these services.

When consumers interact with humanoid robots in service settings (e.g., in retail stores), the emotional and psychological responses experienced during those interactions could lead to unintended or undesirable outcomes. As humanoid robots physically and verbally mimic the way people interact, the reactions and perceptions among consumers are a research priority among academic and industry researchers.

By utilising the PEPPER robot from the UQ Business School Behavioural Lab, PhD candidate David Goyeneche is leveraging his previous industry experience in retail to explore how consumers react to different service interaction patterns with humanoid robots. PEPPER can communicate verbally with consumers and be programmed to express various emotional cues, allowing researchers to test how tailoring the behaviour of robots could add or destroy value within service interactions. For more information about this research and usage of PEPPER robots, please contact Mr David Goyeneche at d.goyeneche@business.uq.edu.au.

Did you know that Psychophysiological Measures of Emotion are more reliable than self-report measures?

This study led by a UQ PhD graduate revealed that how a consumer responds to an advertisement will vary according to how that response is measured. This is because self-report measures of emotion, that is when people tick a box that best aligns with their emotion, are an indication of how people ‘think’ they are feeling as opposed to what they actually are feeling. This research demonstrates that psychophysiological measures of emotion are a better indicator of how consumers ‘actually’ feel in response to stimulus. Interesting, however, is the finding that self-reported emotion was a better predictor of purchase intention, or in this case, a tourist’s intention to actually visit the featured destination. This is possibly because of the cognitive processing involved in self-reporting emotion, which then carries over to decision-making.

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Want to know more about the various methods we can use to measure emotions?

In this paper, the authors conduct a critical assessment of the methods commonly used to measure emotions in tourism and consumer research. The authors outline several different approaches to both self-report and psychophysiological measurement tools. This paper is a great introduction to lab-based methods as it provides a clear summary of the different measurement tools and how they can be applied in a lab setting.

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How can we enhance the appeal of our messaging and better target behaviour change for the better?

This study was led by Dr Nazila Babakhani and demonstrates how, via the use of eye tracking, and other emotional response measures, the aviation industry can improve the uptake of their carbon offsetting programs. The authors tested the effectiveness of numerous messaging techniques and reveal important message design strategies for airlines seeking to maximise the uptake of carbon offsetting programs. This is a great read for those interested in understanding how the UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab can provide valuable insight for the optimisation of marketing communications.

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How our skin temperature and facial muscle movements tell all!

This study examines how skin temperature and facial muscle movement are reliable indicators when seeking to track moment-to-moment emotional responses to digital advertisements. The great thing about psychophysiological measures is that we can track someone’s emotions over an extended time period, such as while they are watching a television commercial, as opposed to self-report measures that will only capture one’s emotional response at one point in time. The latter approach forces the respondent to ‘choose’ the emotion they think they felt most, when in fact their emotional responses may have varied significantly while viewing an advertisement. This allows marketers to identify the specific visuals, experiences and features that evoke the most powerful emotional response. This is extremely useful to know when designing ads, as demonstrated in this article by Dr Stone Li and colleagues.

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Beach Safety Project with Surf Life Saving Queensland

A series of studies were designed to help Surf Lifesaving Queensland (SLSQ) design effective beach safety messages for Chinese students. The first part of the study examined students’ response to existing communication mechanisms such as posters and beach safety videos. Eye tracking was used to identify the parts of the message that were ignored/viewed, while skin conductance was used to measure emotional arousal to television ads. The second part of the study designed and tested a number of new communication messages. Text and images were varied to see which measures were more effective at encouraging Chinese students to swim between the flags. The studies showed that shorter messages that used statistics in a positive way were most effective. Those delivered in Mandarin could be processed faster by students and were also preferred.

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Virtual Reality and Mindfulness in the Workplace

Virtual Reality is providing new opportunities for health and wellbeing, organisational learning, as well as tourism and leisure experiences. This study explored whether a Virtual Reality Leisure Experience involving swimming with dolphins could potentially function as a restorative intervention to support staff and enhance mental well-being in the workplace. We found that swimming with dolphins, albeit virtually, has great mental health benefits for employees including but not limited to reduced levels of exhaustion and fatigue, as well as enhanced mindfulness and mental restoration.

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The UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab provides researchers with access to the latest psychophysiological technology and equipment needed to gain highly reliable data regarding human behaviour. Our Lab Coordinators are trained in the following methods and equipment and can provide advice and training required to facilitate your research project.

Behavioural Science Lab Equipment


How much does it cost to use the Lab?

If you are a UQ researcher or a UQ research student, training and usage of the UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab (including equipment and software) is free. However, possible expenses may occur if consumable resources are needed. All other expenses related to the research project itself are at researchers’ costs (e.g. incentives for participants). 

Do Lab coordinators help with participant recruitment?

No. Lab Coordinators can provide essential training on equipment/software, suggestions on study design, and assist with issues/problems occur in using equipment.

Where can I find detailed information about the Lab equipment?

Please download our “UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab Equipment” document to explore further details. You can also contact our Lab Director (Dr. Gabby Walters) at behaviouralsciencelab@business.uq.edu.au to directly communicate your research needs.

How can I book the Lab for my research?

All researchers need to conduct essential training before they can make Lab booking plans and collect data on their own. Please email Lab Director Dr. Gabby Walters to communicate your research interest and enquiry. Based on your request and research plans, our Lab Coordinators will then book you an introduction training session.

The amount of training you will need to complete will depend on the number and type of equipment you request as well as the learning speed of the user.

Once the users shown their ability to operate on their own, lab access will be provided, and data collection/analysis bookings are available upon communication with one of our Lab Coordinators.

How long can I book the Lab for?

Lab bookings depend on the number of requests and Lab capacity. Please get in touch with our Lab Coordinators to discuss your research plan and schedule and leave enough time for your Lab training sessions prior to data collection.

How can I access the Lab?

The Lab is located in Room 204A, Chamberlain Building (35) at The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus.

Please note you will need to complete training before you can gain access to the Lab.

Are there any Lab rules I need to be aware of?

  • The person booking the room is responsible for ensuring the security of all the equipment and all persons in the room.
  • Food and drink (except for a water bottle) are not to be taken into the Lab Room.
  • The space is to be left in a clean and tidy condition on the conclusion of use.
  • Make sure you close all equipment when leaving.
  • Make sure the door is locked and light is all turned off when leaving.
  • Please advise a Lab Coordinator should your booking need to begin earlier or finish later than planned.

What are the Lab’s risk management guidelines regarding COVID-19?

We are fully COVID compliant and have conducted the necessary risk assessment to ensure our COVID related systems and processes provide protection for both our researchers and respondents. These guidelines are available in the Lab.

For more information about how you can collaborate with a UQ Business School Behavioural Science Lab specialist, please contact our Lab Director, Associate Professor Gabby Walters by emailing behaviouralsciencelab@business.uq.edu.au.

Contact us to find out more