Key Research Interests and Expertise

I am very interested in applying psychological knowledge to real life settings, both in relation to everyday family life and in relation to the student experience. 

For my PhD I explored the role of food and eating in family life, and undertook a mixed methods study, which aimed to explore the underlying family processes within the family meal interactions.  The first phase of the research involved a large-scale questionnaire distributed to year 10 students in three high schools.  The questionnaire aimed to collect data on family meal patterns (where people ate, who they ate with, presence of the television etc.).  It also provided the opportunity to recruit families for the second phase of the research – the interviews.  In total 37 home-based, interviews were conducted with 12 family groups, interviewing separately mothers, fathers and young people.  Participant-generated photo elicitation was used as a method to enrich the quality of the interviews, and another visual element, sketched floor plans, were used to represent the use of space within the family home.  The interviews explored a number of areas including; attitudes and feelings about food and meals; attitudes and feeling about food provisioning and cooking; perceptions of the mealtime environment; childhood memories of meals; and environmental influences on mealtime routines. 

Alongside mealtime routines, I am also interested in the role of social media on family life, with a particular focus on family communication.  Currently I have 3rd year project students exploring this area. 

A third research area I am interested in is the transition of young people into university life.  I am currently involved in a project to develop a mobile app to promote emotional resilience during this transitional period.  And linking my research interests together, I am also interested in how family and social media can support/hinder this transitional period.  Again I currently have 3rd year project students exploring this area.  

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