After studying at Edinburgh, where I did my Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor David Lee, I was a Visiting Scholar in the Institute of Psychology at Uppsala University, Sweden where I worked in Professor Gunnar Johansson's motion perception laboratory. I then held an MRC Post-doctoral Exchange Fellowship at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, where I worked with Professor Alain Berthoz.
My interests at that time were primarily in perceptuo-motor action planning and the visual control of locomotion in large scale space. After my arrival at Strathclyde, I began to investigate locomotor control in more natural, ecologically valid contexts and became increasingly aware of the perceptual and cognitive problems faced by pedestrians interacting with the urban traffic environment, as reflected in the very large number of injuries associated with such interactions, particularly in vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. I have carried out extensive research into the development of pedestrian skills across early and middle childhood and, with Professor Andrew Tolmie (Institute of Education, London) and Professor Hugh Foot (Strathclyde), have used the results to devise and evaluate practical training interventions aimed at accelerating the development of pedestrian skills in young children. Two of these interventions (Kerbcraft, aimed at 5-7 year-olds and Crossroads, aimed at 8-10 year-olds) have since been adopted by the UK Department for Transport as national resources. The former is now used extensively in road safety education across the UK.
Currently, I am investigating the development of executive functioning in typically developing children and children with ADHD and exploring the relationship between these functions and children’s pedestrian skills and behaviour, in collaboration with Dr Sinead Rhodes and Martin Toye (Psychology, Strathclyde) and Professor David Coghill (Psychiatry, Dundee). With Dr Viola Cavallo (National Institute for Traffic Research, Paris) I am exploring the potential of immersive and non-immersive virtual reality as a means of assessing pedestrian decision-making and behaviour in children and the elderly. With Dr Mark Elliott (Psychology, Strathclyde) I am researching the social cognition of driving behaviour, including the socio-cognitive predictors of driving violations among driving offenders; the development of attitudes towards driving violations and risk-taking in adolescent pre-drivers; and the role of self-generated feedback as a means of changing the attitudes and perceived behavioural control of driving violators.
Spatial orientation and the visual control of action in children and adults
Perceptual and cognitive factors in children’s pedestrian decision-making and behaviour
The development of executive functions and their relationship to pedestrian skill development in typically developing children and children with ADHD
The development of perceived intentionality in typically developing children and children with autism
Dialogue during peer collaborative learning and its role in procedural versus conceptual learning
Emotional learning and its relationship to hazard perception in novice and experienced drivers
The socio-cognitive predictors of driving violations
The development of attitudes towards safe and unsafe driving practices in adolescents aged 13-17 years
2007-9: Department for Transport. The monitoring of speed awareness courses: baseline data collection. With Mark Elliott and the MVA Consultancy. £138,400.
2002-5: Department for Transport. The role of skills, attitudes, and perceived behavioural control in the pedestrian decision-making of adolescents aged 11-15 years (with Andrew Tolmie, Hugh Foot and Rory O’Connor). £271,492.
2000-2: Department for Transport. Development and evaluation of a virtual reality resource for training children aged 5-12 years’ in the safe use of designated pedestrian crossings (with Andrew Tolmie and Hugh Foot). £331,507.
1998-2000: Department for Transport. A virtual reality study of pedestrian skill development in children aged 5-12 years (with Andrew Tolmie and Hugh Foot). £181,842
1998: Department for Transport. A review of ethnic factors in child pedestrian accidents (with Andrew Tolmie). £4,961.
1997-98 ESRC. Adult guidance versus peer collaboration in the training of pedestrian skills in young children (with Andrew Tolmie and Hugh Foot). £40,000.
1995-7: Department for Transport. Visual search and selective attention in the context of children’s pedestrian behaviour (with Andrew Tolmie and Hugh Foot). £111,436
1995: Department for Transport and Strathclyde Regional Council. For the production of Kerbcraft, a training resource for road safety professionals . £13,117.
1993-4: £12,882 from the Department for Transport for a review of child development in relation to child pedestrian accidents (with Andrew Tolmie and Hugh Foot). £12,882.
1993-5: Strathclyde Regional Council and The Drumchapel Initiative. To set up a road safety training initiative for young children in Drumchapel, Glasgow. £100,000.
1993-5: Department for Transport. Development and training of pedestrian skills in young children. £75,406.
1992-5: Wellcome Trust: Visuo-spatial deficits in Parkinson's Disease. £85,778
1988-91: ESRC. Development of visual timing and safe place finding skills in young child pedestrians. £123,620.
1983-6: SERC. Intermittency in visually-guided locomotion. £23,254.
Selected Recent Publications
Thomson JA (in press) Promoting pedestrian skill development in young children: implementation of a national, community-centred behavioural training scheme. In Durkin K. and Shaffer R. (Eds.) Blackwell Handbook of Developmental Psychology in Action.
Kinnear N, Kelly SW, Stradling S & Thomson JA (2013) Understanding how drivers learn to anticipate risk on the road: A laboratory experiment of affective anticipation of road hazards. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 50, 1025-1033.
Elliott M A, Thomson JA, Robertson K. Stephenson C & Wicks J (2013). Evidence that changes in social cognitions predict changes in self-reported driver behavior: Causal analyses of two-wave panel data. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 50, 905-916.
Elliott MA, & Thomson J A (2010). The social cognitive determinants of offending drivers' speeding behaviour. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42, 1595-1605.
Stephenson C, Elliott MA, Thomson JA & Wicks J (2010) Monitoring speed awareness courses. Road Safety Research Report No.115: London: Department for Transport.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot HC, O’Connor R, Karagiannidou E, Banks M, Sarvary P & O’Donnell C (2009) Influences on pedestrian risk-taking in young adolescents: the conflicting role of parents and peers. Behavioural Research in Road Safety. London: Department for Transport.
Kelly SW, Kinnear N, Thomson JA & Stradling S (2009) A comparison of inexperienced and experienced drivers’ cognitive and physiological responses to hazards. In Dorn, L (Ed.) Driver Behaviour and Training. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Kinnear, N., Kelly, S.W., Thomson, J.A. & Stradling, S. (2009) Do we really drive as we feel? Behavioural Research in Road Safety. London: Department for Transport.
Thomson JA, Whelan KM & Stephenson C (2008) Kerbcraft: a Handbook for Road Safety Professionals. London: Department for Transport.
Thomson JA (2007) Negotiating the urban traffic environment: pedestrian skill development in young children. In Allen GL (Ed.) Applied Spatial Cognition: From Research to Cognitive Technology. Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Thomson JA (2007) Promoting the development of traffic skills in young children. In Pepping G-J & Grealy MA (Eds.) Closing the Gap: the Scientific Writings of David N Lee. Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Foot HC, Thomson JA, Tolmie AK, Whelan KM, Morrison S & Sarvary P (2006) Children's understanding of drivers' intentions. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 24, 681-700.
Thomson JA (2006) Issues in safety interventions (Guest editorial). Injury Prevention, 12, 138-139.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA Foot H, Sarvary P, Karagianidou E and Banks M (2006) The Role of Skills, Attitudes and Perceived Behavioural Control in the Pedestrian Decision Making of Adolescents Aged 11-15 Years. Road Safety Research Report No. 68: London: Department for Transport.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot HC, Whelan KM, McLaren B, Morrison S (2005)The effects of adult guidance and peer discussion on the development of children's representations. British Journal of Psychology, 96, 181-204.
Thomson JA, Tolmie AK, Foot, HC, Sarvary P, Whelan KM, Morrison S (2005) Influence of virtual reality training on the roadside crossing judgements of child pedestrians. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 175-186.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA Foot H, Whelan KM, Sarvary P, Morrison S (2004) Crossroads: Smart Strategies for Novice Pedestrians (Manual and DVD). London: Department for Transport.
Chinn L, Guy J, Stothart G, Thomson JA & Tolmie AK (2004) The Effects of Traffic Calming on Child Pedestrian Skills Development. TRL Report 600. Crowthorne: Transport Research Laboratory.
Foot, H.C., Tolmie, A., Thomson, J., Whelan, K., Morrison, S. & Sarvary, P. (2003) Computer support for collaborative learning of child pedestrian skills. In R.M. Gillies & A.F. Ashman (Eds.), Co-operative Learning: The Social and Intellectual Outcomes of Learning in Groups. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA & Foot HC (2003) Computer-based support for the training of children's pedestrian skills: software design and evaluation of impact. In Kinshuk, R. Lewis, K. Akahori, R. Kemp, T. Okamoto, L. Henderson & C.-H. Lee (Eds.), Proceedings of International Conference on Computers in Education.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot HC, Whelan KM, Morrison S & Savary P (2003) Integrating adult guidance and peer collaboration in child pedestrian training. In: Joiner R and Faulkner D (Eds.) Learning to Collaborate, Collaborating to Learn. London: Routledge.
Tolmie AK and Thomson JA (2003) Attitudes, social norms and perceived behavioural control in adolescent pedestrian decision making. In Behavioural Research in Road Safety. London: Department for Transport.
Thomson JA & Gielen A (2003) The role of elementary and adult education in childhood pedestrian injuries. In R Schieber and M Vegega (Eds.) Proceedings of the Panel to Prevent Pedestrian Injuries. Atlanta: Centre for Disease Control.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot HC, Burkes M, Wu C, Towner ELM, Whelan KM, Sarvary P, & Morrison S. (2003) Training Children in the Safe Use of Designated Crossings. Road Safety Research Report No. 34. London: Department for Transport.
Tolmie AK, Thomson JA, Foot HC, Whelan KC, Sarvary P & Morrison S (2002) Development And Evaluation Of A Computer-Based Pedestrian Training Resource For Children Aged 5 To 12 Years. Road Safety Research Report No. 27. London: Department for Transport.
Thomson JA, Tolmie AK & Mamoon TP (2001) Road Accident Involvement of Children from Ethnic Minorities. Road Safety Research Report No. 19. London: Department for Transport.
Thomson JA Kerbcraft: a Manual for Road Safety Professionals. London: Department for Transport, 2001.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Testing the potential bi-dimensional effects of attitudes and subjective norms on intentions to enact health-risk behaviors and subsequent behavioral performance
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper
Evidence that changes in social cognitions predict changes in self-reported driver behavior: causal analyses of two-wave panel data
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Impact: Impact - for External Portal › Policy and legislation, Quality of life and safety
Consultant to the Centre for Transport and Society and the UK Department for Transport on understanding public attitudes to road user safety
Activity: Other › Types of Business and Community - Consultancy (in kind)
Consultant to the University of the Highlands and Islands on the introduction of an Honours Degree Programme in Psychology I was one of three external consultants to UHI on the introduction of this distance-learning degree
Activity: Other › Types of External academic engagement - Membership of grant review committee
Activity: Other › Types of Business and Community - Consultancy (in kind)