Department of Psychology


Photo of Dr Darren Van Laar

Dr Darren Van Laar

  • Qualifications: BSc, MSc, PhD
  • Role Title: Reader in Applied Psychology
  • Address: King Henry Building, King Henry 1st Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2DY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6306
  • Email:
  • Department: Department of Psychology
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I have a BSc in Psychology from Manchester Polytechnic, an MSc in Information Processing from York University, and a PhD in 'How to Use Colour in Computer Displays' from Imperial College, London University.  

I am a Reader in Applied Psychology and have three strands of research – how to make people happier at work, the use of colour to structure information in computer displays and the career destinations of psychology students.  Although these areas might sound unrelated - they are all concerned with applying psychology to the real world.

Since 2011 I have also been seconded for part of my time to be the Director of the University of Portsmouth Graduate School.

Teaching Responsibilities

I am co-ordinator for the core Year 2 unit Research Methods and Analysis 1 (‘Stats and Pracs’ course).  The course introduces students to Analyses of Variance, regression and power calculations and consolidates the practical and report writing skills required of psychology graduates.  I also contribute a range of sessions to the Graduate School Development Programme including Intermediate SPSS and multivariate statistics.


My research is situated in the fields of Human Factors and Organisational Satisfaction.

My PhD investigated how best colour coding can be used in control rooms and other complex information displays. This is an aspect of Human Factors, also known as Ergonomics or Human-Computer Interaction.

I love the whole area of colour research and have had students conduct projects in all sorts of areas including colour naming, colour overlays, colour synaesthesia, colour and personality and even the colour of football kits!

My recent research focuses on the development of the Work-Related Quality of Life (WRQoL) scale which is a psychometric tool to measure Stress and the Quality of Working Life in employees.  The scale has been translated in many languages and is used by organisations and researchers around the world ( more information ). My other research interests include the Careers Destinations of Higher Education students and what makes an effective PhD supervision team.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile