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The University of Southampton
Centre for Democratic Futures
(023) 8059 8866

Dr Brian Pickering MA, PGCert, MSc, DPhil, MBPsS, MBCS

Research Staff

Dr Brian Pickering's photo

Having worked at IBM on speech and voice technologies for many years, Brian joined the IT Innovation Group in 2010 and now works as a Senior Research Fellow looking into aspects of human-machine networks and interactions, and more recently into the ethical aspects of medical data sharing and use. He has many years’ experience of European FP7 and H2020 collaborative projects and has recently published on technology acceptance and trust in machines and actor networks as well as the use of technology in identity formation. He is a member of the British Psychological Society, the British Computer Society, the Research Data Alliance, and the Association of Internet Researchers. Brian is involved with ethics, data protection and information governance; and sits on the faculty Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. As well as over 30 patents, Brian holds an MA (BA.i.Hons) in Modern Languages and a DPhil in Phonetics from Oxford, a PGCert in Psychology from Roehampton and a MSc (Distinction) in Psychology from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Research interests

My focus is on how human agents interact with technology, especially the online world, to achieve their goals. Most of the work I do is informed by Actor Network Theory and tussle analysis, but also the social psychology of group interactions. This also involves the development of agency and increased self-efficacy.

Trust: The social science construct of trust as an ongoing negotiation between trustor (who is willing to expose themselves to vulnerability) and the trustee (who must demonstrate their trustworthiness through their actions) is an underlying theme to much of the work I am involved in. I do not conflate trust with a cognitive assessment of cost versus benefit since there is definitely both a social and an emotional component. With regard to technology, trust is an "organising principle" for much technology-mediated interaction. It also relates to constructs like self-efficacy and agency in technology adoption.

Cyberpsychology: I bring together many years of experience with computer technologies (especially speech- and language-enabled applications) with a broader psychological perspective. I'm interested primarily in the Internet as a tool to be adapted for user needs, rather than an independent environment, and therefore uncovering the social and network processes which help individuals engage.

Technology Acceptance and Adoption: As part of application and technology evaluation, I am interested in how potential adopters and users create narratives with technology embedded as a predictor of technology acceptance rather than more traditional models (like TAM, UTAUT and DoI)

Ethics: Like trust, all of my work has strong overtones of what is right for the individual, the community and the environment. Ethics is very different from data protection, though the two are often conflated. My focus is on allowing everyone an equal opportunity for self-expression and agency. I am member of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and was also heavily involved with the COVID-19 initiative, including the legal and ethical issues on data sharing.

Qualitative Research Methods: Although I'm perfectly comfortable with quantitative research methods, with a background in speech and language, I am aware and appreciative of the power in language. Not least because of pragmatics, I am especially drawn to qualitative research methods to provide more than a simple quantification of a behaviour or a cohort.

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Dr Brian Pickering
Building 58
Room 58/3087

Room Number NNN: 125 Gamma

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