My research project
I completed both my Undergraduate and Masters degree at the University of Surrey. I started my Health Psychology PhD in 2017 and my research uses a variety of methods, including qualitative and quantitative, to explore emotional and cognitive factors involved in symptom perception.
University roles and responsibilities
- Graduate Teaching Assistant
- First Year Academic Tutor
My research interest broadly encompasses symptom perception, including the cognitive and emotional factors that impact upon the symptom experience. I am interested in how individuals understand and perceive sensations in their bodies, including positive and negative emotions and signs and symptoms of illness. I try to draw upon theories from different areas in psychology to understand why some people are more likely to experience and interpret body states as indicative of illness.
I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant on several Undergraduate Modules in addition to my role as a first year Academic Tutor. I am also a guest lecturer on the Health Psychology Masters programme.
Symptom perception is complex and influenced by a number of psychological factors. Further, a number of problems relating to symptom perception have been identified including poor interoception and a reduced ability to recognise bodily signals and alexithymia reflecting an impaired ability to identify and describe emotional symptoms. In addition, research indicates that some individuals may have difficulty distinguishing between internal signals and demonstrate an ‘Interoceptive Crossover’ of emotions and physical symptoms. To date, research in this area is sparse. The current study therefore aimed to explore the incidence and nature of Interoceptive Crossover. 239 individuals completed an online survey and reported their experiences of perceived similarity between a range of emotions (e.g., Sad, Happy, Afraid and Calm) and physical symptoms (e.g., Stomach Pain, Fatigue/Tiredness, Headache and Abnormal Heartbeat) to assess the incidence and nature of Interoceptive Crossover. Some individuals demonstrated crossover between emotions and physical symptoms. Some crossovers were more unsurprising and reported by greater proportion of the sample, such as Afraid and Abnormal Heartbeat (74.5%); Sad and Fatigue (29.4%) and Afraid and Shortness of Breath (58.5%). Other crossovers were less prevalent in the sample and more unexpected such as Satisfied with Headache (1.2%); Bored with Back Pain (5.95%) and Happy and Back Pain (0.4%). Some individuals demonstrate Interoceptive Crossover of emotions and physical symptoms. Some crossovers are more prevalent whilst others are rare and unexpected. This phenomena needs to be explored in more depth and with relation to other constructs such as alexithymia and interoception.