Dr Ryan McKay

Personal profile


Research Interests

I'm interested in belief formation and how this process can go awry.

Rational believers hold beliefs with the firmness warranted by the available evidence. We humans, however, tend to fall short of this ideal, being prone to various forms of “misbelief”. At the healthy end of the spectrum, we are susceptible to “positive illusions”, evaluating ourselves and our future prospects more positively than we rationally should. More radical departures from rationality are common in certain psychiatric and neurological disorders, where patients may hold bizarre delusional beliefs about reality.

My research aims to uncover the psychological, social and evolutionary causes and consequences of these various forms of misbelief.



I studied undergraduate psychology at the University of Western Australia in Perth and obtained my PhD from Macquarie University in Sydney. I did postdoctoral work in Boston (Tufts University), Belfast (Queen’s University), Zürich (University of Zürich) and Oxford (University of Oxford) and also worked for a while as a clinical neuropsychologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London.


For information about my lab, the Royal Holloway Morality and Beliefs Lab (MaB-Lab), please click here.


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