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Dr Ian Sneddon

Room 0G.502, David Keir Building

Dr. Ian Sneddon - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Ian Sneddon

Dr Ian Sneddon

Senior Lecturer

Direct phone: +44 (0)28 9097 4385

For media contact email
or call +44(0)2890 973091.


Educated in Scotland, I studied Psychology at St Andrews University during the 1970s. As an undergraduate I worked closely with David Milner (now at Durham) and Mel Goodale (now at Western Ontario). I stayed at St Andrews to complete a PhD under the supervision of Robert Prescott studying the social behaviour and ecology of a population of wild rabbits on the Isle of May several miles off the Fife coast. In 1977 I took up a lecturing post at Queen's University of Belfast and in the 1990s was promoted to senior lecturer.

Research Interests

Animal welfare

For over 20 years I worked with colleagues at the Agricultural Research Institute (ARINI) at Hillsborough, Co. Down on the welfare of farm animals. Research collaborations with Norman Walker, Violet Beattie and Niamh O'Connoll covered a range of welfare issues primarily on pigs held in intensive housing conditions. This work has led to recommendations for animal husbandry practice and, given the current public concern over animal welfare, the research has important commercial implications for agriculture. I continued to widen my research on farm animal welfare, supervising PhD projects on dairy cow welfare and on horses, but over the last few years I have become increasingly interested in, and involved with, research into human expression of emotion.

Expression and Perception of Emotion.

The observational skills developed over many years of animal research have application in the study of human non-verbal behaviour. Most research on the facial expressions linked to emotion have been conducted using static photographs of posed (and arguably stereotypical) facial expressions. Our emotion research group has collected a large number examples of more spontaneous emotional expression (available to emotion researchers as the Belfast Induced Emotion Database at For many years we have been developing methods for the analysis of these continuous expressions and have used these methods to investigate…

  • How people interpret these more natural emotional signals. 
  • Whether people can tell acted from natural signals.
  • To what extent individual, gender and cultural differences affect emotion expression and perception.

Alongside this research on human faces I have been involved in a series of projects( e.g. HUMAINE, SEMAINE) investigating aspects of affective computing, where my involvement has principally been in developing databases that can be used as models for developing affective capabilities in emotion oriented systems and in advising on ethical issues related to this type of research.


I teach at undergraduate level in the area of Animal Behaviour. My overall aims are firstly, to give students a wider sense of perspective when studying and thinking about human behaviour and secondly,  to improve students’ enjoyment of the natural world through a better understanding of the processes and functions of animal behaviour. I also teach classes in Research Ethics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Frequent Journals

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

ID: 9410