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Social Psychology

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 women in leadership, intra and intergroup 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.


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.

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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.

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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 behavior. I'm also interested in children's reasoning about language and accent as social categories that influence multiple aspects of person perception and social evaluation.

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Ioana Latu

In my research I focus on the interplay between social cognition and nonverbal behaviour. I am particularly interested in analysing the interpersonal mechanism through which targets of bias are negatively influenced by existing implicit and explicit stereotypes in actual social interactions

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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 modeling.

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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.

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Baysu, Gulseli


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

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Research Centre


Advancing the academic and public understanding of key societal challenges

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.

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  • Imagined contact has been used as an intervention to promote positive intergroup perceptions by a number of primary schools, secondary schools and employers.
  • 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.
  • Through teaching and mentoring, we engage undergraduate and graduate students in research that is sensitive to the psychological needs of individuals and communities, particularly in divided societies.

Research Students

Research network

  • 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

Related websites

Pioneering Parents project

Helping Kids project

Positive Youth Development project