The Social & Applied Psychology Research Group is involved in investigations of important and current questions that influence the attitudes and behaviour of individuals and groups in their social context. The group makes a substantial contribution to the Psychology curriculum Social, Political, Health and Clinical Psychology, including optional courses that align with the expertise of group members, such as the Psychology of Peace and Conflict, Health Promotion, the Psychology of Religion and Counselling Psychology.
Our research includes national and international collaborations and aims to make a valuable impact on policy and society. Similarly, our researchers engage in consultancy and advisory work for governments and NGOs, as well as original research. Our research has received grants from the British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, Fulbright Commission, Wellcome Trust, British Psychological Society, and other funders. We also hold editorial positions with international journals, such as Political Psychology and the Journal of Moral Education.
The Social & Applied Psychology Research Group consists of researchers who are focused on military veterans (Dr Eve Binks & Dr Lisa Di Lemma) and former combatants (Prof Neil Ferguson) and their transitions back into civilian life. Members are also interested in emotional functioning across different psychiatric disorders and wellbeing in children (Dr Jane McCagh). Across the research group we also have a long-standing interest in social identity research in a variety of contexts.
Military Veteran Identity, Health & Well-being
Dr Lisa Di Lemma explores a series of funded Veteran health and well-being studies. The main project involves the evaluation of existing UK programmes tackling ‘serious stress’ in veterans, their families and carers, in collaboration with Chester University. The evaluation aims to examine the cost-effectiveness of these programmes, and to better understand the associated factors and symptoms related to stress in this population. The evaluation adopts a mixed method design, including quantitative and qualitative data. Additionally, Dr Di Lemma is involved in an international collaboration with universities in Australia and USA investigating Self-Compassion interventions in this population.
Dr Eve Binks focuses on issues impacting identity in military veterans and, in particular, the experience and role of the military-civilian transition in the identity construction of this community. She has worked on international projects focusing on identity in military veterans, and the realization and conversion of military capital in veterans, in collaboration with the Open University of Israel. Other projects include a focus on evaluating the needs of veteran communities, and exploring the role of sport in identity redevelopment in injured veterans.
Food Insecurity & Physical Activity
Dr Tom Gough investigates the role physical activity plays in relation to the link between food insecurity (unreliable access to nutritious foods) and increased BMI, in collaboration with the University of Salford. Specifically, this research looks to investigate whether concerns of an energy deficit mediate the relationship between food insecurity and physical activity and whether food insecure individuals demonstrate greater caloric compensation after acute exercise compared to food secure individuals.
Occupational Health Psychology
Prof. Rosanna Cousins’ current projects build on her previous research, and include developing a sociotechnical model of work-related stress in industrial workers, interventions for musculoskeletal disorders, managing workability in the older worker, and telemonitoring in motor neuron disease.
Clinical, Health & Counselling
Dr Jane McCagh interests lie broadly in the areas of clinical, health and counselling psychology. Recent projects have focussed on exploring factors that mediate emotion dysregulation in psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder and depression and the wellbeing of children during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Social Identity Research
Dr Eve Binks and Prof Neil Ferguson interests lie in the area of social psychology, specifically explore issues of identity development, maintenance, and change. Dr Binks focuses on the role of religion in identity development, links between social identity, politics and religion, and the role of religious conversion theory in developing an understanding of radicalization and engagement in terrorism.
Prof Ferguson has a long-standing interest in researching the Northern Irish conflict and peace process and the role of social identity places in both facilitating division and building positive relations across communities. Currently, Prof Ferguson is exploring the role of identity in initiated engagement in political violence, sustaining violent extremist, facilitating disengagement from violence and building commitment to conflict transformation, community capacity building, and other pro-social pro-group activities in Northern Ireland.
The Violent Extremist Lifecycle
Prof Neil Ferguson, aims to build a deeper understanding of the processes which help or hinder the transition from civilian life into and back out of terrorist activity. In particular, his research explores three keys aspects of this cycle: (i) how individuals initiate contact with armed groups and begin to ‘radicalise’ or learn the ideology and techniques necessary to engage in violence; (ii) once engaged in violence and terrorism, how do combatants sustain this activity over the lifespan of their extremist career, and (iii) how extremists disengage from violence to make the transition back into their communities and new non-violent careers.