Our research

The Health Psychology research group has four broad research areas:

Health Behaviour, Habits and Behaviour Change

We investigate the processes influencing behaviours and behaviour change in health-promoting contexts such as dietary habits, physical activity, sleep, smoking cessation, and screening for genetic conditions. Our work focuses on identifying, clarifying and evaluating the mechanisms of change and on generating evidence for effective behaviour change through interventions targeted at the individual, community and societal (policy) level.

Our research also investigates the role of environments in restoring well-being as well as more traditional interventions. We closely interact with other research groups within the School of Psychology, drawing upon recent developments in the areas of neuroscience, environmental psychology, perceptual judgments and performance, emotions and creativity. 

Rare and more common Chronic Conditions

We investigate a number of rare chronic conditions such as brain trauma, spinal cord injury and misophonia, and more common conditions including obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and address issues relating to both onset and management.

We work closely with a number of clinical providers such as NHS weight management services particularly those delivering bariatric surgery, health charities supporting patients along their care pathways and those fund-raising for their patients. 

We examine these issues using various psychological and physiological methods, to yield results applicable to different contexts.

Stress, rumination and heart rate variability

We investigate responses to stress-inducing situations, including strategies for managing work-life balance and stress as experienced by members of the emergency services. We consider the relationship of perceived stress to individual and group identities and the importance of teamwork in stressful occupations.  

The group is particularly interested in how intrusive, ruminative thoughts impact health (e.g., cardiovascular disease, fatigue, sleep, and mood) and how intrusive thoughts affect recovery from stress. We examine these issues using a variety of psychological and physiological measures including cortisol and heart rate variability.

Symptom perception, communication, language

Cutting across much of our research is an interest in symptom perception with a focus on hunger, fatigue, pain, sound and taste sensitivity and we explore how the perception of symptoms is influenced by factors such as sense-making, distraction, stress and language. 

This also feeds into work exploring health care communication and how consultations can be improved to improve patient health outcomes.