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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a social psychologist whose research focuses broadly on understanding how to improve intergroup relations in diverse and conflict settings. I have expertise in quantitative methods and am particularly interested in applying social psychological theories to shape policy and practice in education and beyond. Influenced by my time spent growing up in Northern Ireland, my research centres around a number of key areas:

  • Segregation: Examining how and why individuals from different religious, racial and ethnic groups interact in everyday life spaces.
  • Reducing prejudice: Understanding how various forms of intergroup contact can be used to reduce prejudice towards stigmatised groups.
  • Pro-social behaviour and empathy: Understanding under what conditions conflict affected youth engage in pro-social behaviours, and to what extent empathy plays a role in promoting peace.
  • Identity: Based on social identity theory, investigating how identity strength and identity processes influence intergroup atttiudes and intergroup relations.

Research Grants

  • 2020-2021: BA/Leverhulme Small grants award (£9,810). Felt understanding: promoting intergroup relations in Northern Ireland. PI: Shelley McKeown, Co-I: Andrew Livingstone.
  • 2018-2019: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award (£13,996). Shared space: changing teacher practice, children’s attitudes and influencing policy nationally and internationally through the use of a teacher toolkit. PI: Amanda Williams, Co-PIs Janet Orchard and Shelley McKeown.
  • 2017-2020: ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (£155,152). The changing landscape: diverse friendships and the effects of contextual diversity on youth outcomes. PI: Shelley McKeown, Co-I's: Amanda Williams, Liz Washbrook and David Manley.
  • 2017-2018: ESRC Future Research Leaders award (£150,036). The diversity effect: intergroup interactions and the impact of diversity on young people's attitudes and academics. PI: Shelley McKeown. 
  • 2016-2017: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award (£19,991). Shared Space: teachers and researchers sharing space to improve their knowledge and understanding of how to promote inter-religious and cultural dialogue in classrooms” PI: Janet Orchard, Co-PI’s Shelley McKeown and Amanda Williams.
  • 2016-2017: Westhill Trust (£6000). Shared Space: Promoting inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue in RE classrooms. Funding in collaboration with the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education.
  • 2015-2017: BA/Leverhulme Small grants award (£9935). Altrusim Born of Suffering: Positive Development in a Post-Accord Setting. PI: Laura K. Taylor, Co-I: Shelley McKeown
  • 2015-2016: Richard Benjamin Trust (£9915). Altrusim Born of Suffering: Positive Development in a Post-Accord Setting. PI: Laura K. Taylor, Co-PI: Shelley McKeown
  • 2015: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award. Shared space: promoting community cohesion in diverse school classrooms”. PI: Shelley McKeown, Co-I: Janet Orchard.
  • 2015-2016: Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development ($58000). Patterns of Humanization and Dehumanization and the Development of Trust: Unity and Divisions Within and Between the Muslim World. PIs: Dan Christie and Noraini Noor. Co-Is: Cristina Montiel, Subramaniam Govindasamy, Shelley McKeown, Reeshma Haji, Zahid Shahab Ahmed & Fatima Sajjad


  • 2018: American Psychological Association: Division 48 Ed Cairns Early Career award for substantial contributions to peace psychology
  • 2014: British Psychological Society: Social Psychology Section Ph.D award for contributions to social psychology
  • 2011: British Psychological Society: Northern Ireland Branch Postgraduate presentation prize

Areas of Research Supervision

I have expertise in quantitative methods (surveys and experiments) and am particularly interested in supervising quantitative or mixed methods Master's and PhD projects with a focus on evaluating diversity, segergation in everyday spaces, intergroup contact, intergroup relations, altrusim and empathy, intergroup conflict, prejudice, peace education and social identity. Jo Rose and I supervise a number of students together: we bring complementary interests, and diverse expertise in a broad range of methodological approaches. Our shared focus on how differences in socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds can impact on the likelihood of positive trajectories and outcomes means that we offer potential students the opportunity to join an exciting and dynamic group of researchers.

External positions

Chair, British Psychological Society, Social Psychology Section

Governing Council Member, International Society of Political Psychology

Committee Member, British Psychological Society, Undergraduate Education Committee

Co-Chair, International Network for Peace Psychology


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