Social psychology

Social Psychology research at Edinburgh is concerned with the way in which the social world has an impact on people

The group focuses on this theme both at the individual level and by studying interactions at the inter-individual, intra-group, inter-group and socio-cultural levels. In keeping with this broad range of interests, the group employ a variety of methodologies, ranging from experimental studies to qualitative analyses of inter-individual communication. The group has a wide range of interdisciplinary and international research affiliations.

To learn more about opportunities for doctoral study at Edinburgh, feel free to contact any of the Staff below, all of whom have interests in social psychology.

Current research topics of interest

We are particularly interested in receiving applications in the following areas of research:

Adam Moore The interaction between political ideology and desire(s) for power; power motives and moral judgements.
Sarah Stanton Romantic relationship processes (especially partner responsiveness or self-expansion) and health; mindfulness in romantic relationships; adult attachment processes in romantic relationships; human-pet relationships.
Steve Loughnan Perception of animals (anthropomorphism), dehumanization, objectification
Zachary Horne Belief formation, attitude change, computational modeling, analogy, scientific explanation, argument generation.
Sue Widdicombe Identity, the self, culture, qualitative methods
Anne Templeton* Intra- and inter-group processes, crowd psychology, and antecedents to political behaviour
Matti Wilks The moral circle (moral expansiveness); barriers to moral and prosocial behaviour; unusually altruistic groups; naturalness bias and attitudes toward food technology/cultured meat.

* Staff member is not accepting new PhD students for 2022 entry.

Recent/current PhD topics in this area

A selection of recent/current PhD topics in this area:

  • Discursive practices used in political decision-making. (Supervisor: Sue Widdicombe)

  • The psychology of objectifying women in positions of power (Supervisors: Steve Loughnan & Adam Moore)

  • The role of social identification and social norms in risk-taking at mass gatherings (Supervisors: Anne Templeton & Adam Moore)

  • Investigating reasons for public support of social movements (Supervisor: Anne Templeton)

  • The role of anthropomorphism in virtual romantic relationships (Supervisors: Steve Loughnan & Sarah Stanton)

  • Social consequences of communal emotions (Supervisors: Sarah Stanton & Adam Moore)


For queries about general admissions, please contact the Postgraduate Office.

To discuss academic matters, contact the Programme Director, Rene Mottus.

Find out more

Fees, funding, and how to apply