Psychology Research Institute


The Institute conducts internationally recognised research within four groups: Psychological Epidemiology and Mental Health; Peace, Conflict and Equality; Behavioural Neuroscience and; Health, Education and Wellbeing.

Psychological Epidemiology and Mental Health: The work undertaken by this group seeks to address substantive research questions in the areas of measurement, diagnosis and prevalence of mental health problems in the population. Research themes include investigations into the mental health areas of psychosis, trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use disorders and suicide.

Peace, Conflict and Equality: Addresses research issues related to intergroup contact, community relations, as well as issues concerned with Northern Ireland’s long tradition of campaigning for justice and equality. This work brings together leading theory and real world practice in intergroup relations to illustrate how psychology can contribute to improving life for the citizens of Northern Ireland, and also to international efforts that promote a fairer distribution of resources.

Behavioural Neuroscience: The Behavioural Neuroscience Research Group has the ability to conduct research in the Biological and Behavioural Research Unit using a range of molecular, histological and other neurobiological procedures along with sophisticated behavioural techniques to investigate a set of linked themes related to animal models of psychiatric illnesses and feeding disorders. The research group also carries out studies on the experimental analysis of human behaviour, applied behaviour analysis and autism. Research in these areas is supported by recently upgraded laboratory facilities, with the capacity to record EEG’s and event related cortical potentials, and state-of-the-art eye movement tracking equipment.

Recent research includes the effects of  nanoparticles on complex behaviour in the rat, effects of instructions on the speed of human sequential responding, facilitation of extinction of operant behaviour in mice by chlordiazepoxide and d-cycloserine, a general population survey of awareness and knowledge of autism and autism interventions, parental and professional views of living with children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders, feedback and goal-setting interventions to reduce electricity use in the real world.

Health, Education and Wellbeing: Health, Education and Wellbeing is an expanding area, partly in response to the needs of a changing population who are at risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease and obesity. Research interests include nutrition and its impact on health across the lifespan, lifestyle factors and healthy ageing, menopause and HRT, child oral health, diabetes, young carers, health promotion, pain and its management, sexual health, rehabilitation and cancer patients, behaviour change models such as the theory of planned behaviour and health beliefs model. Some of the group are interested in how interventions in the classroom can improve academic achievement and psychological well-being in primary school children. The Group also undertakes independent, scientific assessments of health-related interventions, such as: Diabetes care programmes; Alcohol treatment programmes; Domestic Violence Programmes; NSPCC counselling in schools programmes; and physical activity programme for older males.