Muldoon, Orla, Prof.

Muldoon, Orla, Prof.

Prof. Orla Muldoon
+353 61 213175
Head of Department
Founding Chair
Psychology Department E1-029 University of Limerick Co. Limerick Ireland

Office Hours: Monday 2-3pm, Friday 9-10am


Biographical Details;


I joined University of Limerick in August 2007 to lead the development of the Department of Psychology. The attraction of this post was the University's commitment to the development of Psychology which matched my own loyalty to this discipline. Since graduating with first class honours in psychology from Queens University Belfast in 1993, I have been engaged in teaching and research in the area of applied social and developmental psychology. This commitment arises in part from a fascination with the subject matter of social psychology as well as a belief that theoretically grounded and methodologically sound psychological research can be a powerful and positive force for social change.

My research is very much informed by the social identity tradition as it allows the exploration of how group memberships - collective or social identities- are central to individual psychology and wider social and intergroup relations. My overarching research interests concern the impact of group memberships on social behaviours. I am interested in how perceiving one-self as a member of a religious, socio-economic or racial group can impact on views of the self and others, in how these group memberships are transmitted to and understood by children and young people and in how such memberships impact on physical and mental health. Issues of power and (dis)empowerment are of course central to our experiences of racial, national and gender groups, as some groups by their nature are more or less powerful than others. So my research often uses a political psychological approach to consider the manner in which social practices are recreated for the purposes of particular political projects.

I am current chief editor of Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology  and a coeditor of Political Psychology

Research Interests
The application of social psychology and the social identity approach in particular to understanding and solving real world social issues
Examination of the social and psychological impact of adversity (e.g. poverty, psychological trauma and political violence)
Development and change in social identities across the life-span;

Health, social relationships and stigma.

Recently Completed Projects

Sharing Hope: Destigmatising suicide and promoting mental health help-seeking
Funded by both the Irish Research Council (IRC)and Pieta House, we have been examining the value of local mental health support services in destigmatizing help seeking as well as suicide itself.  Together with Dr. Michelle Kearns, an IRC funded post graduate scholar we have published a series of papers demonstrating the value of shared community and solidarity to those bereaved by suicide (Kearns et al., 2017)..  We have also demonstrated that increasing the visibility of support services can assist in the reduction of stigma associated with suicide (Kearns et al., 2018a, 2018b). We have also highlighted contexts where people may not feel able to access the help they need (Kearns et al., 2015)  With Dr. Jennifer McMahon and Laura Neenan in Education and Professional Studies we are now running an RCT to evaluate an intervention to support student teachers who may be tasked with supporting youth mental health in the future.  Some of this work is available as a videocast here

Social Identity Change and Acquired Brain Injury

Funded by both the Irish Research Council (IRC) and Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we have over the last decade examined how valued social identities can be harnessed in support of recovery and rehabilitation for those negotiating acquired brain injury.  Acquired brain injury can be a life altering condition, and those affected as well as their families can have difficulties readjusting to their former lives.  Our work shows how membership and identification with old and new valued groups can be pivotal to both quality of life, mental health and positive social relationships for this very vulnerable groups.  You can read about some of the work that has been presented to government and can be accessed here 

Social identity, Psychology Trauma & PTSD

I have a long standing interest in the impact of psychological trauma on mental health on the one hand and social attitudes on the other (Schmid & Downes, 2009; Schmid & Muldoon, 2015).  A core argument here is that the personal and social psychological effects of traumatic experience can be divergent (Muldoon & Lowe, 2012; Muldoon, 2013).  By this we mean that changes as a result of trauma may protect mental health at the same time as negatively affect social attitudes. This may be particularly likely where the trauma arises as a consequence of negative intergroup dynamics (Muldoon et al., 2007; 2008) and can be seen to be linked to the relationship between trauma and identities (Schmid & Muldoon, 2015).   More recently we have been exploring how trauma impacts intragroup dynamics (Muldoon et al., 2017; Naughton et al., 2015; in press) and considering potentially positive consequences of trauma at a sociopolitical level.

Social deprivation and stigma in Limerick
With colleagues here in UL and in Notttingham Trent University, we have been involved in research that has experiences of residents socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of Limerick (Gallagher, 2016; McNamara et al., 2011, 2013; Stevenson, et al., 2014).  We continue to research in this area and are actively interested in the identifying a role for disadvantage and group status as a driver of stress reactivity. Other current projects include young people’s experience of disadvantage (Bradshaw et al, 2016) as well as young people in comparatively affluent and deprived areas experience the school system (Jay & Muldoon in press).


Peer-reviewed Publications

Kearns, M., Muldoon, O. T., Msetfi, R. M., & Surgenor, P. W. (2018). Identification Reduces Stigma of Mental Ill‐Health: A Community‐Based Study. American Journal of Community Psychology. (pdf)

Naughton, C. M., O’Donnell, A. T., & Muldoon, O. T. (2018). Exposure to Domestic Violence and Abuse: Evidence of Distinct Physical and Psychological Dimensions. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 0886260517706763. (pdf)

Msetfi, R., Jay, S., O’Donnell, A. T., Kearns, M., Kinsella, E. L., McMahon, J., Muldoon, O.T., Naughton, C. & Creaven, A. M. (in press). Restricted reproductive rights and risky sexual behaviour: How political disenfranchisement relates to women’s sense of control, well-being and sexual health. Journal of health psychology, 1359105317736784. (pdf)

Jay, S. & Muldoon, O.T. (in press). Social Class and Agency: Independent and Interdependent models of agency as Educational (Dis)advantage. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. (pdf)

Canetti, D., Hirsch-Hoefler, S., Rapaport, C., Lowe, R. D., & Muldoon, O. T. (2018). Psychological Barriers to a Peaceful Resolution: Longitudinal Evidence from the Middle East and Northern Ireland. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. (pdf)

O’Byrne, C., & Muldoon, O. T. (2018). Changes in domain specific self-perception amongst young people with intellectual disability: a longitudinal study. European Journal of Special Needs Education33(1), 59-72. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T., Acharaya, K., Jay, S., Pettigrew, Adhikari, K., Pettigrew, J & Lowe, R.D. (2017). Community Identity and Collective Efficacy:A Social Cure for Traumatic Stress in post-Earthquake Nepal European Journal of Social Psychology (pdf)

Kearns, M., Muldoon, O. T., Msetfi, R. M., & Surgenor, P. W. (2017). Darkness into Light? Identification with the Crowd at a Suicide Prevention Fundraiser Promotes Well‐Being amongst Participants. European Journal of Social Psychology. (pdf)

Walsh, R. S., Muldoon, O. T., Fortune, D. G., & Gallagher, S. (2017). A longitudinal study of relationships between identity continuity and anxiety following brain injury. Frontiers in Psychology8. 

Acharya, K., & Muldoon, O. T. (2017). Why “I” became a combatant: A study of memoirs written by Nepali Maoist combatants. Terrorism and Political Violence, 29, 6, 1006-1025. (pdf)

Nightingale, A., Quayle, M., & Muldoon, O. (2017). “It's just heart breaking”: Doing inclusive political solidarity or ambivalent paternalism through sympathetic discourse within the “refugee crisis” debate. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology27(2), 137-146. (pdf)

Fortune, D. G., Kinsella, E. L., & Muldoon, O. M. (2016). Editorial: Better Together: A Joined-Up Psychological Approach to Health, Well-Being, and Rehabilitation. Frontiers in Psychology7.

Muldoon, O. T., O'Donnell, A. T., & Minescu, A. (2017). Parents' and children's understanding of their own and others' national identity: The importance of including the family in the national group. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. (pdf)

O’Byrne, C., & Muldoon, O. (2017). Stigma, self-perception and social comparisons in young people with an intellectual disability. Irish Educational Studies, 1-16. 

Gallagher, S., Sumner, R. C., Muldoon, O. T., Creaven, A. M., & Hannigan, A. (2016). Unemployment is associated with lower cortisol awakening and blunted dehydroepiandrosterone responses.  Psychoneuroendocrinology69, 41-49. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.03.011 (pdf)

Bradshaw, D., Jay, S., McNamara, N., Stevenson, C., & Muldoon, O. T. (2016). Perceived discrimination amongst young people in socio‐economically disadvantaged communities: Parental support and community identity buffer (some) negative impacts of stigma. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 34, 153-168. (pdf)

O'Donnell, A. T., Muldoon, O. T., Blaylock, D. L., Stevenson, C., Bryan, D., Reicher, S. D., & Pehrson, S. (2016). ‘Something That Unites Us All’: Understandings of St. Patrick's Day Parades as Representing the Irish National Group. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 26(1), 61-74. (pdf)

Gallagher, S., Meaney, S., & Muldoon, O.T. (2015). The influence of social identity processes on stress appraisals and cardiovascular reactions in response to acute psychological stress. British Journal of Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12056 (pdf)

Schmid, K., & Muldoon, O. T. (2015). Perceived Threat, Social Identification, and Psychological WellBeing: The Effects of Political Conflict Exposure. Political Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/pops.12073 (pdf)

Pehrson, S., Reicher, S.D., Stevenson, C., & Muldoon, O.T. (2014). Everybody's Irish? Multiculturalism on St Patrick's Day. British Journal of Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjso.12029 (pdf)

Walsh, R.S. Fortune, D. G. Gallagher, S. & Muldoon, O.T. (2014): Acquired brain injury: combining social psychological and neuropsychological perspectives, Health Psychology Review, DOI:10.1080/17437199.2012.733914 (pdf)

Muldoon, O. T. (2013). Understanding the Impact of Political Violence in Childhood: A Theoretical review using a Social Identity Approach. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 8, 929-939. (pdf)

Joyce, C., Stevenson, C. & Muldoon, O. (2013), Claiming and displaying national identity: Irish traveller's and students strategic use of 'banal' and 'hot' national identity in talk. British Journal of Social Psychology,52, 3, 450-468. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2012.02097 (pdf)

Gallagher, S., O'Donnell, A. T., Minescu, A., & Muldoon, O. T. (2013). A commentary on 'The effects of identication with a support group on the mental health of people with multiple sclerosis'. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 75, 94-95

McNamara, N., Stevenson, C., & Muldoon, O. T. (2013). Community identity as resource and context: A mixed method investigation of coping and collective action in a disadvantaged community. European Journal of Social Psychology 43, 5, 393-403. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T. & O'Donnell, A.T. (2012). 'Running' an introductory module. Psychologist, 25, 11, 828-829.

Muldoon, O.T., & Lowe, R.D. (2012). Social Identity, Groups, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Political Psychology, 33, 2, 259-273. (pdf)

McNamara, N., Muldoon, O.T., Stevenson, C. & Slattery, E. (2011). Citizenship attributes as the basis for intergroup differentiation: Implicit and explicit intergroup evaluations. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 3, 243-254. (pdf)

Lowe, R.D & Muldoon, O.T (2010) Religious and ethnonational identification and political violence. Ethnopolitics, 9, 1, 71-83.

Stevenson, C.P. & Muldoon, O.T. (2010). Identity claims in adolescence. British Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 583-599.(pdf)

McLaughlin, K., Muldoon, O.T. & Moutray, M. (2010) Gender, Gender roles and completion of nursing education: A longitudinal study. Nurse Education Today (pdf)

Trew, K., Muldoon, O.T., McKeown, G & McLaughlin, K. (2009). The media and memories of conflict in Northern Ireland. Journal of Children and Media, 3:2,185 - 203 (pdf)

McCullough, N., Muldoon, O. & Dempster, M (2009) Self-perception in overweight and obese children: a cross-sectional study. Child: Care, Health & Development. 35 3 357-364 (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T., Schmid, K. & Downes, C. (2009). Political Violence and Psychological well-being: the role of social identity. Applied Psychology, 58, 1, 129-145. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T., McLaughlin, K., Rougier, N. & Trew, K. (2008) Adolescents explanations of paramilitary involvement. Journal of Peace Research, 45, 5, 681-695 (pdf)

McLaughlin, K., Moutray, M. & Muldoon, O.T. (2008) The role of personality and self-efficacy in the selection and retention of successful nursing students: A longitudinal study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 211-221. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T., McLaughlin, K. & Trew, K. (2007). Adolescents' Perceptions of National Identification and Socialisation: a grounded analysis. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 579-594. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T., & Downes C. (2007). Social identity and prevalence of PTSD in Northern Ireland. British Journal of Psychiatry, 191, 146-149. (pdf)

MacGinty, R., Muldoon, O.T. & Ferguson, N. (2007). No War, No Peace: Northern Ireland after the Agreement. Political Psychology, 28, 1, 1-11.

Muldoon, O.T., Trew, K., Todd, J., McLaughlin, K & Rougier, N. (2007). The nature and meaning of identity in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement. Political Psychology, 28 ,189-103. (pdf)

 Stevenson, C.P., McCartney, G., Barnett, J., Muldoon, O & Trew, K. (2007) Barriers to healthy eating in adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 30, 417-434 (pdf)

McLaughlin, K., Trew, K. & Muldoon, O.T. (2006). Religion, ethnicity and group identity: Adolescent's views. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 12 (3-4), 599-616.

Todd, J., Canas- Bottos, L., McLaughlin, K., Muldoon, O., Rougier, N., & Trew, K. (2006). The Moral Boundaries of the Nation: Subverting state borders and constituting national identity in the South Eastern border counties of the Irish State. Ethnopolitics.5, 4, 365-382. (pdf)

Muldoon O.T., Lowry, R, Prentice, G.. & Trew, K. (2005).The factor structure of the multidimensional measure of children's perceptions of control.  Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 647-657.

Muldoon, O.T. (2004). Children of the Troubles: The impact of political violence in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 60, 3, 453-468. (pdf)

Reilly, J., Byrne, C. & Muldoon, O.T. (2004). Young men as victims and perpetrators of violence Journal of Social Issues, 60, 3, 469-484. (pdf)

Muldoon, O.T. & Reilly, J. (2003). Career choice in Nursing Students: Gendered constructs as psychological barriers. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 43, 1, 93-100.

Muldoon, O.T. (2003). Perceptions of stressful life events in Northern Irish school children: a longitudinal study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 2, 193-201.

Muldoon, O.T. (2002). Adolescents and political conflict in Northern Ireland. Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 18, 102-104.

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