Social Psychology

Understanding people in their social context 

How are people's thoughts, emotions and behaviour influenced by others? How do people coordinate with others to ensure productive relationships and effective communication? How do the groups people belong to shape their identity? How are people affected by stigma? What drives the evolution of social norms? 

We investigate these questions using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, including experiments, surveys, interviews and focus groups, and naturalistic observation. Our work has important real-world application across a range of domains, including addressing the spread of misinformation, promoting more environmentally sustainable behaviour, improving team performance, and promoting inclusion and wellbeing of people from marginalised groups. 

Research laboratories

Social Psychology researchers work across the following laboratories:

Social Influence Laboratory

The greatest influence om people's thoughts, emotions and behaviour is other people. Research in the Social Influence Laboratory examines the ways in which people are influenced by other people, groups, institutions and society. We use a range of methods to investigate human social influence, including laboratory experiments, computational simulations and social network analysis.

Current research topics include: 

  • Informational Influence: How should information be designed to maximise influence and transmission?
  • Interpersonal Influence: How do people create shared understandings during social interaction?
  • Group Influence: What are the dynamics of decision-making groups, and how can group performance be optimised?
  • Cultural Influence: What factors drive cultural (including language) evolution?
  • Malign Influence: How can we curb the spread of misinformation and promote a healthy information environment?


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Interpersonal Dynamics Laboratory

Research in the Interpersonal Dynamics Lab is concerned with the fundamental processes by which people coordinate their social lives. We examine how cognition and behaviour unfold during real-time social interactions using a range of experimental methods and techniques (e.g., motion tracking, virtual reality, modelling). A prominent focus is on the interplay between synchronised movement and the effectiveness of social exchange and collective behaviour.

Current research topics include:

  • How do people coordinate their behaviours, thoughts and feelings with others?
  • What impact does interpersonal coordination have on our social relationships?
  • What influence do differences in mental health have on the capacity to coordinate with others?
  • How do team members best coordinate their efforts to ensure effective collective performance?
  • When do differences between competitive and cooperative motives shape group dynamics and productivity?
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Morality, Identity and Social Change (MISC) Laboratory

Societies change and develop across time and space regarding what attitudes and actions are considered acceptable and/or morally laudable. We know that some practices once considered fringe have become mainstream and ‘normal’ (e.g., recycling one’s household waste). Others once considered totally normal and acceptable have become morally and/or legally sanctioned (e.g., smoking in public or smacking children). However, understanding the processes of social influence through which such changes have, do, and might happen is a complex and fascinating area of research in social and developmental psychology that has broad implications for a range of social, health and environmental issues.

In the Morality, Identity and Social Change (MISC) Lab we are interested in exploring (often interdisciplinary) research questions that attempt to unpack the social and developmental factors that underlie societal change, with a particular focus on the moral and social identity dimensions of these processes.

Some current foci of our work include (amongst others):

  • Exploring the potential implications of moralised social identities forming around minority practices (such as ‘vegans’, ‘cyclists’ or ‘zero wasters’)
  • Understanding how (moralised) understandings of relationships between human and non-human animals can affect public health issues, such as zoonoses
  • Examining the cognitive and social factors that shape the trajectories of moral development in children and young adults with regards to their connection to the natural world

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Memory and Cognition Laboratory

Research in the Memory and Cognition Laboratory investigates human memory and reasoning, using mainly behavioural experimentation.

The main topic of interest is misinformation: How does incorrect information affect memory, reasoning and decision-making even after it has been corrected? What individual (cognitive, social, affective) factors influence people’s misinformation susceptibility? What aspects of the information environment play a role? How can effective interventions be designed? 

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Memory and cognition lab 
Parent and Child Laboratory

As children develop, they and their families face a range of challenges.

Mental health professionals have developed a range of interventions to address various social, emotional, and behavioural needs of children and their parents, and decades of research attest to their value in improving child and parent wellbeing. However, simply having programs available does not mean that parents and children will access and engage with them.

Only about a third of families who could benefit from these support programs initially engage in them, and of these, about half drop out. There is a range of reasons why parents do – and do not – seek and engage in help for their child, and knowing these will enable us to better plan accessible interventions in the future.

In the Parent and Child Lab, we are interested in researching questions that relate to these aspects of child development, parenting, and support interventions, such as:

Understanding the range of mental health and social challenges that children can experience, and how they come to develop these challenges.

Understanding how children get to therapy, and the barriers families face in doing so. * Parents’ perspectives on and experiences in how they support their children.

Stigma that parents and children with mental health problems and neurodevelopmental conditions face, and how they cope with this stigma.

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