Kinsella, Elaine, Dr.

Kinsella, Elaine, Dr.

Dr. Elaine L. Kinsella
+353 61 213594
Department of Psychology BM-028 University of Limerick Castletroy Co. Limerick

Dr. Elaine Kinsella is currently on leave


Elaine Kinsella graduated with first-class honours in Psychology (BSc) from Queen's University, Belfast in 2005.  She received a Master of Science degree in Occupational Psychology from Liverpool John Moore’s University in 2006.  From 2007 to 2009, Elaine worked at Personnel Decisions International (now PDI Ninth House, part of Korn Ferry) in London as an occupational psychology consultant. From 2009 to 2012, Elaine completed a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Timothy D. Ritchie and Dr. Eric R. Igou.  In 2012, she began working as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick (UL).  In 2013, Elaine took up the post of postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Issues Research and the NGO Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Ireland, under the mentorship of Professor Orla Muldoon and Professor Donal Fortune.  Elaine was awarded the prestigious IRC-funded postdoctoral research fellowship through the Enterprise Partnership Scheme in December 2013, facilitating her on-going collaborations with the Centre for Social Issues Research and ABI Ireland.  This grant also provided Elaine with the opportunity to work at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia for two months as a visiting researcher in the School of Psychology.  In 2015, Elaine graduated with first-class honours in the Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at UL. From 2016-2016, Elaine lectured in psychology at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Limerick. In September 2016, she started to work as a lecturer in psychology at the University of Limerick.

Research Interests 

In the broadest sense, Elaine is interested in the basic cognitive and social processes that promote or inhibit wellbeing. One theme in Elaine’s research is examining social representations of heroes through the lens of social cognition and drawing information from social psychology, clinical psychology, and cognition. The findings suggest that heroes can provide people with psychosocial benefits – enhancing and uplifting the lives of others, modelling morals, and protecting others from psychological and physical harm. This research has a number of applications for clinical and abnormal psychology. Metaphoric Identity Mapping, for instance, is an identity reconstruction technique for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) that promotes the use of a hero as a means to unify and remember one’s identity and self-regulate towards goals. The theoretical underpinnings of this technique have fuelled her interest in memory processes that help or hinder one’s sense of identity, including self-defining memory. Understanding the factors that influence one’s likelihood of approach/avoidance behaviour and how memories of influential people or events may influence behaviour is central to a range of trajectories in life. 


A second theme of Elaine’s research investigates how autobiographical memory, particular self-defining memories, influence behaviour for a particularly vulnerable group — those with altered memory processes as a consequence of acquired brain injury. The Irish Research Council (IRC) postdoctoral award has afforded Elaine opportunities to develop skills and experience in areas of abnormal psychology and neuropsychological testing. Through her connections at ABI Ireland, Elaine has since pursued new research interests in the area of posttraumatic growth.


Teaching 2016/17

  • Cognition 1 (PS4037) / Cognition (PS6102)
  • Research Methods (PS4033) / Research Methods in Psychology (PS6112)
  • Human Development and the Life Span 1 (PS4012) / Developmental and Lifespan Psychology (PS6102)


Education and Qualifications  

  • Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (First Class Honours). University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland (2014)
  • Children’s First Certificate: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, Health Service Executive, Tipperary (2014)
  • PhD, Psychology. University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland (2009-2012)
  • Certificate in Counselling Skills. Liverpool John Moore’s University, Liverpool, UK (2006)
  • British Psychological Society Level A and B Certificates in Occupational Testing (2006)
  • MSc, Occupational/Organisational Psychology. Liverpool John Moore’s University, Liverpool, UK (2005-2006)
  • Certificate in Career Management and Employability Skills. Queen's University Belfast, UK (2005)
  • BSc (First Class Honours), Psychology. Queen’s University, Belfast, UK (2002-2005)




Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

McHugh, C., McGann, M., Igou, E. R., & Kinsella, E. L. (2017). Searching for Moral Dumbfounding: Identifying Measurable Indicators of Moral Dumbfounding. Collabra: Psychology, 3(1). DOI:

Coughlan, G., Igou, E. I., van Tilburg, W.A.P., Kinsella, E.L., & Ritchie, T. R., (2017). On boredom and perceptions of heroes: A meaning-regulation approach to heroism. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. First Published April 26, 2017. doi: 10.1177/0022167817705281

Kinsella, E. L., Igou, E.I., & Ritchie, T.R. (2017). Heroism and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. First Published April 3, 2017. doi: 10.1177/0022167817701002

Franco, Z. E., Allison, S. T., Kinsella, E. L., Kohen, A., Langdon, M., & Zimbardo, Z. (2016). Heroism research: A review of theories, methods, challenges and trends. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1-15. doi: 10.1177/0022167816681232

Fortune, D. G., Kinsella, E. L. (2016). Editorial: Better together: A joined-up approach to health, well-being and rehabilitation. Front. Psychol. 7:974. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00974

Grace, J. J., Kinsella, E. L., Fortune, D. G., & Muldoon, O., T. (2015). Posttraumatic growth following acquired brain injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology6, 1162.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D., & Igou, E. R. (2015). Zeroing in on heroes: A prototype analysis of hero features. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 114-127.

Kinsella, E. L., Walsh, R. S., Lowe, N., Fortune, D. G., & Muldoon, O. T. (2015). Viewpoints: ‘I felt let down by psychology’. The Psychologist28, 128-131.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D., and Igou, E. R. (2015).  Lay perspectives on the social and psychological functions of heroes. Frontiers in Psychology6, 130.


Book Chapters

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D., and Igou, E. R (2017). Attributes and Applications of Heroes: A brief history of lay and academic perspectives. In Allison, S. T., Goethals, G. R., & Kramer, R. M. (Eds.). Handbook of heroism and heroic leadership (pp. 19-35). New York: Routledge.


Non Peer-Reviewed Publications

Kinsella, E. L. (2015). What doesn’t kill us: New Perspectives on Psychological Trauma and Posttraumatic Growth: Short Report. Irish Psychologist, 42, 18-19. 

Kinsella, E. L. (2013). A psychological perspective on the features and functions of heroes (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database. (AAT 3537461).

Kinsella, E. L. (2012). Batman, Katie Taylor, & Nelson Mandela: What are the defining features of heroism? UL Links, 5(2), 63.


Conference Presentations and Invited Colloquia

Kinsella, E. L. (2015). Exploring social and cognitive factors that contribute to adjustment after acquired brain injury. Invited speaker at the Centre for Health Outcomes, Innovations and Clinical Education (CHOICE) seminar, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia on Wednesday 15th April.

Kinsella, E. L., Fortune, D. F., & Muldoon, O. T. (2014). Self-defining memory after brain injury. A poster presented at the British Psychological Society Neuropsychology Annual Conference, London, UK on Friday 28th November.

Kinsella, E. L., Fortune, D. F., & Muldoon, O. T. (2014). Self-defining memory after brain injury. A poster presented at the 11th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, Limerick, Ireland, on Wednesday 28th May.

Kinsella, E. L. (2013). Autobiographical memory after brain injury. Invited speaker at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, on Wednesday, April 17th 2013.

Kinsella, E., Zimbardo, P., Allison, S., Preston, S., & Klisanin, D. (2013). Where we are and where are we going: A psychology panel on the topic of heroes. Invited panel speaker at the Hero Round Table conference, Flint, Michigan, on Saturday 9th November.

Kinsella, E., Ritchie, T.R, & Igou, E.R. (2013). Heroes: What Psychological and Social Functions do they provide? A poster presented at the Hero Round Table conference, Flint, Michigan, on Saturday 9th November.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D. & Igou, E. R. (2012, January). Superman, Mother Teresa & Mom: What psychosocial functions are provided by our heroes? Poster session presented at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Diego, California.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D. & Igou, E.R. (2011, September). The psychological and social functions of heroes. Presentation at the BPS Social Psychology Section Conference, Cambridge, UK.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D. & Igou, E. R. (2011, September). Conceptions of heroes: A prototype approach. Invited speaker at social psychological seminar, hosted by the Department of Psychology, UL.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D. & Igou, E. R. (2011, August). Conceptions of heroes: A prototype approach. Presentation at the 13th ESCON Transfer of Knowledge Conference, Sligo, Ireland.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D. & Igou, E. R. (2011). The characteristics of persons of influence: A look at heroes, role-models and leaders. Poster session presented at the 16th Annual General Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden.

Kinsella, E. L., Ritchie, T. D., and Igou, E. R. (2010). Essential features and psychological functions of heroes. Poster session presented at the Annual BPS Conference (Northern Ireland division). Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

Kinsella, E. L. (2008). Social networks: Improving the flow of information and knowledge through your organisation. Presentation to the Board of Directors at Personnel Decisions International Corporation.

Kinsella, E. L. (2007). The Social networks of researchers: Bridging structural holes to facilitate progress in academic fields.  Presentation of research findings and implications to the

research department at SHL Group Ltd., UK.

Kinsella, E. L. and Kremer, J. (2005). Explicit and implicit anti-fat bias among secondary students and university students.  Presented at the Psychological Society of Ireland 27th Annual Students’ Congress (2005) and abstract published in The Irish Psychologist, 31.



2015     MIC Seed funding (€1,500)

2014     Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme (€5,900)

2014     Health Research Board, Grant for two-day Systematic Review Training

2013     Health Review Board, Grant for one-day Systematic Review Training

2013     Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Funding for two years (€90,000)

2009     EHS European PhD Fee Waiver (€17,000)

2009     University of Limerick PhD Scholarship (€25,000)


Professional Membership

Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI)

British Psychological Society (BPS)

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