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Research Themes

The Psychology Research Institute (PRI) conducts world-leading research research under five broad themes:

Peace, Conflict and Equality

Multi-disciplinary research under this theme focuses on intergroup conflict and psychological approaches to understanding and mediating the effects of intergroup violence and attitudes, with an internationally-recognised reputation for excellence.

For further information, please contact the Peace, Conflict and Equality Research Leader, Professor Maurice Stringer

Health, Education and Wellbeing

Health, education and well-being 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 conducted under this theme aims to support and engage in innovative, multidisciplinary, transformational and international research within the area of health psychology, education and well-being.  Research staff working in this area undertake independent, scientific assessments of health-related interventions, such as: Diabetes care programmes; Alcohol treatment programmes; Domestic Violence Programmes; NSPCC counselling in schools programmes; nutrition and physical activity programmes for children and older adults.

For further information, please contact the Health, Education and Well-beingResearch Leader, Dr Liz Simpson

Behavioural Neuroscience and Behavioural Analysis

Research into Alzheimer’s disease and behavioural extinction; stimulus equivalence and eye tracking; applied behaviour analysis work on education of children with autism.

For further information, please contact the Behavioural Neuroscience and Behavioural Analysis Research Lead, Professor Julian Leslie

Population Health Sciences and Mental Health Services

There are two main strands to this interdisciplinary research theme:

Administrative and Secondary Data Research
Routinely collected administrative data are a valuable source of information for research and policy evaluation. These data are relatively inexpensive to exploit, compared to the costs of establishing specially commissioned surveys.  In 2013, an Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) was established across the UK, with an Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC) set up in each of the four countries. The ADRC-NI is a partnership between Queen's University of Belfast (QUB), Ulster University and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).  The ADRC-NI is responsible for commissioning and undertaking linkage of data from different government departments and making the linked data available for analysis, thereby creating new resources for a growing research agenda.   Staff working in this area have substantial expertise in quantitative methods and statistical modelling, resulting in over 400 peer-reviewed publications and research council funding for research projects and statistical training.

The Bamford Centre
The Bamford Centre aims to use expertise gained through the development of research that is relevant to the needs and priorities of patients, services, and government.  Research conducted by the Bamford Centre aims to: (1) understand the determinants of health and the patterning of health service use; and (2) improve health services and the quality of life for people with mental health problems.  In our research, service user and carer involvement is given a dominant and sustainable role in our research activity.  We also seek to work with health and social care organisations and professionals to ensure that our research is relevant to the needs of patients and services. We are committed to interdisciplinary research within Ulster University while building national and international collaboration with academic research partners in Ireland, the UK and internationally.

For further information, please contact the Population Health Sciences and Mental Health Services Research Lead, Professor Gerry Leavey

Psychotraumatology, Mental Health and Suicidal Behaviour

A key focus of this research theme relates to the area of Psychotraumatology, which refers to the study of processes and factors that lie antecedent to, are associated with, and are subsequent to psychological traumatisation. The research conducted under this theme aims to add to the knowledge base in this field through studies that address biopsychosocial factors related to risk, resilience, prevention, and treatment. There is a strong on conducting research which leads to impact and policy level change in Northern Ireland.  Reseach conducted under this theme therefore aims to influence the way in which people that have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma, mental health issues, and / or suicidal ideation & behaviour are identified, supported, and treated.

Staff involved in this research strand recognise the need for collaborative multidisciplinary approaches to attract research funding and compete internationally. We also recognise the need for research to have impact and policy relevance and the importance of PPI and public engagement. Staff working in this area have extensive international research networks including the world mental health survey initiative, the international college student project, the international suicide and self-harm research networks, and the National Centre of Psychotraumatology in Denmark. We work with a range of healthcare providers, innovators, and charities to develop research which influences practice.

For further information, please contact the Psychotraumatology, Mental Health & Suicidal Behaviour Research Leader, Dr Cherie Armour