I completed my Bachelors and PhD degree in the School of Psychology at Queens University Belfast. completed an advanced methods training in the University of Michigan on completion of my PhD thanks to a JFK travel Scholarship. I have engaged in research in psychology as an academic since 1996 having held positions at UU, QUB and now UL.
I am a social psychologist which means that I am interested in how social contexts and in particular social systems and structures can shape behaviour, attitudes and health. In the USA and elsewhere this is often called political psychology as many of our systems and structures are shaped by power, status and cultural forces. These same cultural forces, are often not interrogated because they are assumed and acceptable in wider society. Social psychology - allows us to interrogate these processes and lay them bare. in so doing we can understand them and attempt to improve on systems that may inadvertently harm ourselves and others.
As well as undertaking teaching and research in this area, I regularly contribute to the new media and in particular offer opinion editorials in the Irish Times. In these pieces, I use a social psychological lens to attempt to understand a particular social phenomena. Other professional contributions include editorial work for Political Psychology (2020-2025) and Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (2015-2019).
I am a current member of the Irish Research Council and serve on the Behaviour and communications committee advising the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
Social Psychology: Specific interests include understanding of group memberships (e.g. race, social class, gender), shared identification and mental health, prejudice, discrimination, trauma and power.
I am currently managing an ERC Advanced grant that explores whether adversity, trauma and its psychological consequences are driven by social identity change. More on the project is available here Four Irish Winners of ERC Advanced Grant Awards 10 Million Investment in Irish Research | News | Irish Research Council
I am managing a HRB-IRC funded project that is exploring the value of social solidarity to public adherence to health messaging during COVID19. More detail is available here Building solidarity and trust in public health messaging in the misinformation era (hrb.ie)