Dr Sarah Foley

Lecturer in Development Psychology


Dr Sarah Foley is a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology in Moray House School of Education

Sarah conducts research on the causes and consequences of variability in parenting and children’s adjustment, with a particular focus on outcomes associated with co-parenting in diverse family forms. 

Sarah's ESRC-funded PhD examined  the transition to parenthood in heterosexual couples, with a particular focus on the impact of expectant parents' thoughts and feelings about their unborn infant on their representations of and interactions with their infant. Her subsequent post-doctoral research explored parent-child relationship quality and child development in new family forms (e.g., those created through assisted reproductive technologies). Following this, Sarah gained an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship to examine parent and children's experiences of shared parenting arrangements post separation and divorce.  Sarah's previous research also included studies of pre-adolescent adjustment and assisting with the creation of the Brief Early Skills and Support Index (aka BESSI), a ‘school-readiness’ questionnaire.


  • BA (Hons), University of Cambridge.
  • PhD, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge. 

Undergraduate teaching

  • Educational Studies 2A: Child and Adolescent Development in Education - course organiser
  • Cognitive and Social Child Development in Education

Postgraduate teaching

  • Children and Young People 1 - course organiser (MSc TLT)

  • Child and Adolescent Development (MSc Education)

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing (MSc Education)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

Sarah's research explores family influences on children’s social, emotional and cognitive outcomes. Specifically, Sarah utilises observational and advanced quantitative methods to examine the antecedents and consequences of individual differences in mothers’ and fathers’ parenting in a bid to help inform evidence-based support for families.

Sarah's current research explores:

  • outcomes associated with co-parenting in diverse family forms, for example after separation or divorce and within elective co-parenting families (i.e., where parents come together outside of a romantic relationship to have a child)
  • trajectories in parent mind-mindedness and sensitivity and the subsequent links with children's theory of mind, internalising and externalising problems 

Current project grants

2024 - 2026 Economic and Social Research Council New Investigators Grant - Keeping the Child in Mind? Family Functioning and Experiences of Shared Parenting After Separation

Past project grants

2019 Economic and Social Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship - ‘A Parenting Team?’,

View all 29 publications on Research Explorer