Social psychologists in the School of Psychology are all members of the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations (CIIR), which aims to advance the academic and public understanding of some of the key challenges facing individuals, groups and societies, from the perspective of social and political psychology. Our research focuses on the role of identity in explaining attitudes and behaviour, examines intergroup relations in a variety of contexts both within and beyond Northern Ireland, and considers interpersonal and intergroup social and communicative interactions and emotional reactions.
Key topics under investigation in the Centre include encouraging psychological resilience among children living in conflict and post-conflict societies, understanding and changing perceptions of gender/leadership, inter/intra group trust, developing and testing interventions (e.g. different forms of intergroup contact, educational programmes such as Shared Education) to generating intergroup tolerance, examining the consequences of multiculturalism for the individual and society, and understanding what happens during interpersonal and intergroup interactions, and the role that laughter, humour, cognition and emotion play.
Based in Belfast in the context of post-conflict Northern Ireland, the Centre is ideally situated to provide world-leading research on the myriad challenges facing complex and multifaceted societies throughout the world today. The Centre is multidisciplinary, working with academics in the Schools of Anthropology, Architecture, Education, and Politics amongst others, multi-methodological, conducting both basic and applied research using a variety of different methodologies (e.g., experimental, survey, interview and ethnographic research, affective computing and social signal processing), and multinational, with collaborators and research projects taking place across Europe, North and South America, and Australia. We have two bespoke laboratories, the identity and intergroup relations laboratory which contains cubicles with computer for experiments, and an area for interviews and interactive research, and social interactions laboratory which incorporates hardware and software to observe and collect data from a variety of modalities simultaneously during social interactions, and to take part in virtual reality experiments.
Intergroup Relations in Schools, Communities & Workplaces - Prof Rhiannon Turner
My research involves developing and evaluating interventions designed to promote more positive intergroup relations in schools, communities and workplaces. In particular, I focus on interventions that bring together people from different social groups (for example on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality), or which help to increase people’s interest and confidence in engaging with people from different backgrounds.
Intergroup Relations, Intergroup Conflict & Social Change - Dr Danielle Blaylock
Danielle is an applied social psychologist with a specific focus on intergroup relations, intergroup conflict and social change. As an applied researcher these theoretical constructs are examined within real-world contexts, particularly those found within divided communities. Current projects explore the impact of intergroup contact experienced through various contact-based initiatives on the promotion of positive intergroup relations. She is currently leading the evaluation of the European Union’s PEACE IV Children and Young People programme and the Collaboration and Sharing in Education Project (CASE) delivered by the Education Authority and Léargas.
Social Cognition - Dr Jocelyn Dautel
My research investigates the development of social cognition with a particular emphasis on how children and adults categorize others into social groups, and how these categories then guide further inferences and behaviour. I am also interested in children's reasoning about language and accent as social categories that influence multiple aspects of person perception and social evaluation.
Gender Equality and Reactions to Diversity - Dr Ioana Latu
My research focuses on understanding and reducing intergroup biases, with a specific focus on gender biases in organisational and academic contexts. I am particularly interested in analysing the interpersonal mechanism through which women are negatively influenced by existing implicit and explicit gender stereotypes in social interactions such as job interviews and negotiations. My research also seeks to understand and reduce potentially negative attitudes towards gender equality initiatives in masculine domains.
Social & Communicative Interactions - Dr Gary McKeown
My interests include social and communicative interactions, social signal processing and affective computing, laughter and humour, cognition and emotion, cross-cultural emotion perception, the evolution of human communication and language, embodied conversational agents, risk perception and communication, opinion dynamics, and agent based modelling.
Risk & Resilience - Dr Laura Taylor
My research is framed by an intergroup developmental approach to study risk and resilience processes for youth in settings of protracted conflict. My work has implications for youth outcomes, such as aggression, prosocial behaviours and social identity, as well as broader psychosocial processes, such as shared education and intergroup relations, which may fuel or constrain conflict.
Cultural Diversity & Immigration - Dr Gulseli Baysu
Dr. Baysu is a social and political psychologist. Her research focuses on the social psychology of cultural diversity, immigration and integration, educational success of immigrants and minorities, intergroup relations, identity politics and political participation of minorities. In 2018, she received a grant from Jacobs Foundation as the Principal Investigator in the project “Cultural diversity approaches in schools and their implications for student achievement and adjustment”. She was also awarded with Advanced Research Center Distinguished Visiting Fellowship of City University of New York where she worked for 6 months as a Visiting Professor. Please check her latest research at https://bold.expert/stereotyping-affects-school-engagement/
Social Functions of Facial Expressions - Dr Magdalena Rychlowska
Magdalena is a lecturer at Queen's University Belfast and a research fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her PhD in 2014 from the University of Clermont Auvergne. Her research focuses on production, perception, and social functions of facial expressions, in particular smiles and laughter.
Dr Gary McKeown has created a research programme at the School of Psychology that seeks to understand human emotional communication in itself but with an added application of informing computational science and commercial partners how to take advantage of these discoveries.
This research has led to theoretical work on human communication and on the importance of storytelling and how understanding emotional reactions to scenarios provides the basis of good storytelling—important for advertising and broadcasting impact, and technological innovations in understanding expressions and reactions. The storytelling work was central to the impact with Red Bull Media House informing their multimedia storytelling of Red Bull extreme sports athletes. Together with Red Bull the team also developed of a Virtual Reality Mountain Bike Experience, https://sensum.co/releases/the-hero-feeling).
Dr McKeown’s has work resulted in a long term collaboration with Sensum an affective computing company, and three Knowledge Transfer Partnerships funded by the ESRC and Invest NI. The first two of these partnerships were given the highest rating of "Outstanding" by the KTP assessors, while the third is on-going.
- We have provided expert testimony on intergroup contact and its benefits to the NI Department for Education commissioned Independent Review of Integrated Education
- We are involved in EU Special Funding Body project to evaluate the impact of the PEACE IV Programme on Children and Young People
- We are involved in an ESRC GCRF Networking Grant which aims to implement and evaluate Shared Education in NI to the Balkans region
- By exploring the way in which identity and intergroup relations play out within divided societies, our work directly impacts programmes and policies to promote social cohesion.
Professor Turner’s is interested in intergroup contact and prejudice looking at predictors and outcomes of different forms of intergroup contact in reducing prejudice, including cross-group friendships.
She recently took part in an award winning Channel 4 documentary on tackling racism in schools. Based in a London comprehensive school and spread across three weeks, a multicultural class of 24 Year 7 students took part in a series of activities as part of their normal school day. Taught by their regular teachers, the pupils will be observed by a team of experts through each stage of the experiment.
“Tests have revealed that children as young as six are aware of racial differences but, as a society, we do not talk about them and often take a colour-blind approach to race. Is our failure to discuss race part of the problem? This ground-breaking experiment will look at if it is possible to eradicate bias”.
An EPSRC project was developed with the following aims:
- To gather new evidence about how GEIs should be designed and implemented, so that STEM academics have positive attitudes towards them and engage with them.
- To use this evidence to design a unique set of training resources to chage attitudes towards GEIs, and test these resources across thje three institutions.
- To make these resources freely available to all EPS departments in the UK.
The Social Interaction Laboratory includes sound and visual stimulation of emotion incorporating Microsoft Kinect, 2 Oculus Rifts, and NAO Humanoid Robot.
A recent Leverhulme Project with the Perception and Action theme demonstrated that although one often talks of laughter ‘types’ - such as joyful, taunting and schadenfreude - laughter is an inherently ambiguous signal whose interpretation is largely determined by the social context in which it occurs. The perceived meaning of laughter can be radically changed simply by presenting it in a different social context.
The Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations contains a suite of data collection computers and cameras.
Our research focuses on the role of identity in explaining attitudes and behaviour, and examines intergroup relations in a variety of contexts both within and beyond Northern Ireland.
Discover more about the workof the CIIR at their webpage.
The School of Psychology is please to work with the following collaborators in our research
- Gordon Hodson (Brock University, Canada) and Becky Choma (Ryerson University, Canada)
- Lindsey Cameron (University of Kent) and Cigdem Bagci (Isik University, Turkey)
- Loris Vezzali (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy)
- Fiona White (University of Sydney)
- Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut (University of Southampton)
- Michele Birtel (University of Greenwich) and Robin Martin (Manchester Business School)
- Professor Joanne Hughes and Dr Caitlin Donnelly, Centre for Shared Education, QUB
- Professor Dinka Čorkalo Biruški, University of Zagreb, Croatia
- Professor Violeta Petroska Beshka, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Republic of Macedonia
- Dr Sabina Cehajic-Clancy, Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Professor Miles Hewstone and Dr Ralf Wölfer, University of Oxford
- Professor Orla Muldoon and Dr Aisling O’Donnell, University of Limerick
- Dr Lindsey Cameron, University of Kent
- Mark Cummings, University of Notre Dame
- Christine Merrilees, State University of New York (Geneseo)
- Shelley McKeown Jones, University of Bristol
- Wilson Lopez, Universidad de Javeriana
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