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Personal profile

Research interests

My research broadly centres on the processes and mechanisms that drive adult attachment. Briefly, on the basis of information abstracted from consistent and long-term attachment relationships, individuals develop mental models of attachment, or attachment styles. A key feature of attachment styles is that they predictor how individuals respond to threat and deal with stress and distress. Much of my research over the years has been concerned with the way that attachment styles and attachment-relevant hormones influence thought, behaviour and feelings in interpersonal relationships and social life more generally. In recent years, one line of my research has focused on the relationship between attachment styles and mental health. While insecure attachment styles represent a vulnerability for the development and maintenance of ill mental health, secure attachment acts as a buffer against its development.  Across a number of studies we find that the experimental enhancement of attachment security has many positive personal and interpersonal outcomes, including positive effects on mental health.

Some grant funding:


  • British Academy research grant (£4,959). “Selective attention to attachment threatening stimuli as a function of attachment style” (2003). Principal Investigator.
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grant (RES-062-23-0052, £359,815) in collaboration with Ian Penton-Voak and Casimir Ludwig “Adult attachment and the perceptual processing of facial expressions of emotion” (2006). Principal Investigator.
  • British Academy research grant (SG – 43494 for £6059) in collaboration with Marcus Munafò “Attentional training and attachment anxiety in adults” (2006). Principal Investigator.
  • Nuffield Foundation grant (SGS/33904, £7,494) with Kathy Carnelley. “Adult Attachment and the Inhibition of Dispositional and Primed-Style-Incongruent Information” (2007). Principal Investigator.
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship with Abigail Millings. “Adult attachment, partner caregiving, and parenting”. (RES). (2008).
  • The Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship for Ruta Marcinkeviciute (in collaboration with Robbie Cooper): “The perceptual integration of facial signals from eye gaze and emotional expression: a test of two hypotheses”. (2008).
  • The Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship for Izumi Kurokawa: Physical separation from primary attachment figures and emotional self-reliance: Attachment styles in Boarders versus day pupils at a British boarding school”. (2009).
  • The Leverhulme Trust research grant (f/00 180/AL, £85, 859) in collaboration with Katherine Carnelley (Principle Investigator), Erica Hepper and Rich Gramzow “Symbolic closeness to attachment networks: Roles of stress and imposed closeness”(2010).


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