I joined Keele University as Lecturer in Psychology in February 2021. Prior to this I was a lecturer in the Division of Psychology at the University of Bradford (2019-2021) and before this, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow across the Department of Philosophy and School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading (2017-2019) . I completed my PhD at Plymouth University in a Marie-Curie interdisciplinary programme (CogNovo) and have a BSc and MSc in Psychological Research from Bangor University. I am a member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) and the European Association of Social Psychology (EASP) as well as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I am currently an Action Editor (Editorial board member) for Nature’s Scientific Reports. 

I have a particular interest in moral psychology and social cognition research having published several papers looking at judgment-behaviour discrepancy (saying one thing and doing another) in moral contexts. I am committed to interdisciplinary research and collaboration having worked closely with academics from philosophy, art and design, and computer science. Please visit my website to find out more about my research and please do email me if you are interested in getting involved (I am always interested to hear from students wishing to pursue graduate studies (MSc, PhD) in moral psychology/cognition projects):

Research and scholarship

My research lies at the intersection of psychology and philosophy, and mainly in moral cognition. I adopt interdisciplinary approaches to the investigation of cognitive and social phenomena and predominately, in the following areas:

Moral inconsistency

I research the way in which people make decisions in difficult and emotionally aversive situations. Over the past 5 years, I have found that moral decisions in text-based moral dilemmas differ to moral decisions simulated in Virtual Reality (VR) moral dilemmas. Having discovered this moral inconsistency (and using VR as a tool to study it), I am now working on several related projects and was recently awarded a British Academy grant to support further work using VR to study moral inconsistencies (2020-2022). The ultimate aim of this research is 1) to examine judgment-behaviour discrepancies across different moral/ethical contexts, 2) to determine what factors contribute to moral inconsistencies in these contexts, and 3) to investigate the use of Virtual Reality (and other technologies) as valid and reliable tool(s) to examine complex social actions. 

Morality and medicine 

In 2018, I published a paper examining the moral judgments of professionally trained individuals (paramedics and fire fighters) after research emerged claiming that they hold strong moral principles (e.g., doctors are deontological while healthcare management are utilitarian). This work has resulted in two streams of research interests: 1) whether moral judgments change with experience working in 'helping professions' and 2) whether there is an empathy crisis in medical/healthcare professionals. The aim of this research is to contribute to our understanding of empathy in medical/helping professionals and the overarching moral principles that guide professional practises. 

Morality and food choice

In this line of research, we are examining what moral motivations drive certain food choices e.g., vegan and vegetarian diets. With the number of vegans quadrupling since 2014 and increasing calls for climate action, this research is topical with many applications for health promotion, food product development, animal welfare, environmental conservation, food sustainability, and future policy. The ultimate aim of this research is to understand the moral beliefs (e.g., attitudes towards animals, carnistic beliefs), moral emotions (e.g., disgust, elevation) and cognitive defence mechanisms (e.g., rationalisation) adopted by several dietary groups which will help us to develop an understanding of how morality affects food choices.

I am a strong advocate for Open Science having been awarded the Inaugural Open Research Award at the University of Reading in 2019. I actively preregister experimental research on open data platforms such as the Open Science Framework (OSF) and AsPredicted. In addition, I encourage my collaborators and my students (undergraduate and postgraduate) to share their experimental materials, analysis pipelines (including R and SPSS scripts), datasets (raw and coded), and preprints on the OSF.


My teaching interests are varied but I enjoy teaching across social psychology, moral psychology, and quantitative research methods and statistics.

At Keele University, I teach on a variety of undergraduate modules including:

  • Module Leader: PSY-20034 Social Psychology in the Modern World (with a focus on the social psychology of morality)
  • Module Leader: PSY-40038 MSc Research Apprenticeship
  • Module Team Member: PSY-10019 Applied Psychology
  • Module Team Member: PSY-10033 Introduction to Social and Developmental Psychology
  • Module Team Member: PSY-20044 Statistics for Psychology
  • Module Team Member: PSY-20048 CyberPsychology
  • Module Team Member: PSY-30067 Individual Differences and Conceptual Issues (with a focus on the use of Virtual Reality in psychological research)


Selected publications:

  • Francis, K. B., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Howard, I. S., & Terbeck, S. (2019). Alcohol, empathy, and morality: Acute effects of alcohol consumption on affective empathy and moral decision-making. Psychopharmacology. 
  • Francis, K. B., Terbeck, S., Briazu, R, A., Haines, A., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., & Howard, I. S. (2017). Simulating moral actions: An investigation of personal force in virtual moral dilemmas. Scientific Reports, 7. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13909-9.  Awarded (Scientific Reports Top 100).
  • Francis, K. B., Howard, C., Howard, I., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Anderson, G., & Terbeck, S. (2016). Virtual morality: Transitioning from moral judgment to moral action? Plos Onedoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164374Awarded (Top 10% Most Cited 2016)

Full publications list:

Journal articles:

  • Muda, R., Pienkosz, D., Francis, K. B., & Bialek, M (2020). The moral foreign language effect is stable across presentation modalities. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi: 10.1177/1747021820935072 
  • Francis, K. B., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Howard, I. S., & Terbeck, S. (2019). Alcohol, empathy, and morality: Acute effects of alcohol consumption on empathic processing and moral decision-making. Psychopharmacology. doi: 10.1007/s00213-019-05314-z 
  • Francis, K. B., Beaman, C. P., & Hansen, N. (2019). Stakes, scales, and scepticism. Ergo. 6, 427-487. doi: 10.3998/ergo.12405314.0006.016 
  • Hansen, N., Porter, J. D., & Francis, K. B. (2019). A Corpus Study of "Know": On the Verification of Philosophers' Frequency Claims about Language. Episteme, 1-27. doi: 10.1017/epi.2019.15 
  • Francis, K. B., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Howard, I. S., & Terbeck, S. (2018). Virtual morality in the helping professions: Simulated action and resilience. British Journal of Psychology, 109, 442-465. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12276. Selected for special collection ‘EFPA European Semester of Psychology: Psychology Moving Humanity Forward’ 
  • Francis, K. B., Terbeck, S., Briazu, R., Haines, A., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., & Howard, I.S. (2017). Simulating moral actions: An investigation of personal force in virtual moral dilemmas. Scientific Reports, 7. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13909-9. 
  • Francis, K. B.*, Haines, A.*, & Briazu, R. A.* (2017). Thinkering through experiments: Nurturing transdisciplinary approaches to the design of testing tools. AVANT [Special Issue], 8, 107–115. doi: 10.26913/80s02017.0111.0011
  • Oztop, P.*, Loesche, F.*, Maranan, D. S.*, Francis, K. B.*, Tyagi, V., & Torre, I. (2017). (Not so) dangerous liaisons: A framework for evaluating collaborative research projects. AVANT [Special Issue], 8, 167–179. doi: 10.26913/80s02017.0111.0016
  • Francis, K. B., Howard, C., Howard, I. S., Gummerum, M., Ganis, G., Anderson, G., & Terbeck, S. (2016). Virtual morality: Transitioning from moral Judgment to moral action? PloS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164374.  

Book chapters:

  • Loesche, F., & Francis, K. (2020). Creativity and Destruction. In Runco, M. and Pritzker, S. Encyclopedia of Creativity, 3rd Edition (vol 1). Elsevier, Academic Press, pp. 239-245.
  • Torre, I., Ɓucznik, K., Francis, K., Maranan, D. S., Loesche, F., Figueroa Jr., R. B., Sakuta, A., Zaksaite, T. (2019). Openness across disciplines: Reflecting on the ColLaboratoire summer school. In: Conrad, D. and Prinsloo, P. (Eds), Ecologies of Open: Inclusion, Intersections, and Interstices in Education.
  • Terbeck, S., & Francis, K. (2018). We should if we could, but we can’t. Experimental problems with moral enhancement. In Hauskeller, M. Moral Enhancement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Please see my website for further information:


  • Open Day and Offer Holder Day Team Member
  • Member of University or School Research Ethics Committee
  • Undergraduate Academic Mentor

School of Psychology
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