I am a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Exeter. My research focuses on the role of social identity in pro-social and anti-social behaviour.
My recent work, supported by both the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has examined the role of group processes in the regulation of perpetrator, victim and bystander behaviour during aggressive and violent events. This has included conducting a systematic behavioural analysis of CCTV footage of real life violent incidents in night-time economy zones in British town centres. It has also involved the use of Immersive Virtual Environments (‘virtual reality‘) to study the behaviour of bystanders in violent emergencies. By creating a virtual pub – and exposing football fans to violence between life sized avatars - we were able to reveal the role that social identities play in the willingness of bystanders to intervene in violence.
I am currently involved in 3 EPSRC funded projects exploring the role of identities and behavior in the digital age. These are all interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues from departments of psychology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, animation and robotics. The first (EP/J005053 Identiscope: multiple identities as a resource for understanding and impacting behaviour in the digital world) explores impact of social identity processes in online and offline behavior. The second (EP/K033433/1 (CeRes)- Privacy Dynamics: Learning from the Wisdom of Groups) examines the way group processes can shape privacy concerns and privacy behaviour. The third (EP/L00416 (Digital Personhood) Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces (HARPS) uses accurate tracking and remote emotion sensing to explore contact amongst groups of humans, and also between humans and robots, and the effect this can have on social cohesion and intergroup relations.
Over the years I have secured more that £4.5 million in research finding including 4 EPSRC projects and 3 project grants from the ESRC. I am co-editor of the 2012 book Beyond the Prejudice Problematic: Extending the Social Psychology of Intergroup Conflict, Inequality and Social Change (with John Dixon). I have also published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Psychological Science, American Psychologist, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, British Journal of Social Psychology, European Journal of Social Psychology and many others.