Dr Kostas A. Papageorgiou

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Developmental Psychopathology, Director of the MSc in Applied Developmental Psychology, and the Director of the InteRRaCt Lab at Queen’s University Belfast. I have served previously as an Assistant Professor and an Associate Professor at London Metropolitan University, London, UK and Tomsk State University, Russia, respectively. I am an Associate Editor for the Journal Acta Psychologica (Indvidual Differences Section), and a member of the Editorial Board in the Journal Personality and Individual Differences, Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and Frontiers in Psychology. I participate actively in dissemination of scientific findings in both academic audiences and the public with my research on narcissism to be the subject of frequent media coverage from the world’s largest international broadcasters (e.g. BBC World Service, CNN, Times and Forbes) resulting so far in more than 1,000 pieces of coverage worldwide.

In 2011, I was awarded a European Marie Curie Fellowship to pursue a PhD (2011-2015) at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck University of London. My doctoral thesis “Individual Differences in Infant Visual Attention: Links to Child Temperament, Behaviour and Genetic Variation” explored the genetics of visual attention in the first year of life; and the degree to which individual differences in newborns’ and infants’ visual attention predict variation in temperament, cognition and symptoms of psychopathology in childhood. I conducted my MSc thesis in the InLab, under the supervision of Professor Kovas, exploring social (e.g. stereotype threat) and biological (e.g. prenatal testosterone) factors that contribute to sex differences in spatial and mathematical ability across development. In 2011, I received an MSc degree in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from Goldsmiths University of London, and a BSc degree in Psychology from Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in 2009.

My current research interests involve exploring the degree to which dark personalities (with a particular focus on narcissism) contribute to resilience and performance across contexts. My work has focused on narcissism, as a first step, in order to highlight some positive sides of this seemingly dark trait, such as showing resilience. The objective of my research programme is not to rehabilitate dark personalities, but rather to contextualize them in a complex web of societal costs and benefits. In that regard, my work has focused on narcissism, as a first step, in order to highlight some positive sides of this seemingly dark trait, such as showing resilience and increasing school performance. In so doing, I plan, through collaborative work, to be able to look into ways in which society can harness the energy of dark personalities while also curtailing their potential for harm.


Scientific Advisors

Professor Yulia Kovas

Yulia Kovas is Professor of Genetics and Psychology at Goldsmiths, and a visiting Professor at University of Sussex (UK), New York University in London, Tomsk State University (Russia) and Higher School of Economics (Russia).  She also lectures at UCL and King’s College, London and supervises many BSc, MSc, PhD, and Post-graduate students’ research in the UK and abroad. In addition to being the Director of InLab at Goldsmiths (International Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Investigations into Individual Differences in Learning), she co-directs the International Centre for Research in Human Development (ICRHD) at Tomsk State University and the Russian-British Laboratory for Behavioural Genetics at the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow.  She leads the genetically informative research into mathematical development in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) at King’s College, London; and directs the Russian School Twin Registry (RSTR).  The goal of her research programme is to provide insights into the development of individual differences in cognitive abilities, emotional and motivational processes and academic achievement.  Understanding the origins of variation in these traits will ultimately lead to more personalised educational approaches and to better education for all learners.

Yulia Kovas received her Ph.D. in 2007 from the SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry. Her thesis on Generalist Genes and Mathematics explored the origins of the individual differences in school mathematics. She received a degree in Literature and Linguistics as well as teaching qualifications from the University of St Petersburg, Russia in 1996 and taught children of all ages for 6 years.  She received a B.Sc in Psychology from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2003 and an MSc in Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry from the SGDP Centre, King’s College. This eclectic – interdisciplinary and international – educational background has ultimately led to the formation of InLab at Goldsmiths, University of London.  The laboratory conducts international, interdisciplinary research into individual differences in cognition, motivation, achievement and other educationally relevant traits – with the aim of providing new knowledge that can be used to improve education.  A major focus of the research is on numerical ability, mathematics, spatial ability, as well as creativity –  STEAM fields.  InLab is one of the founding members of INRiCHD – an International Network for Research in Child Health and Development.

In addition to this research programme, Professor Kovas is also involved in promotion of genetic knowledge and in work that considers implications of genetic research.  She is a member of the Council for Ethical, Societal and Legal Implications of Genetic Research in Child Development and Education; and Chair of the Psychology Department Ethics Committee at Goldsmiths. In 2015, InLab and the ICRHD became the founding members of TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium.


Professor Sergey Malykh 

Sergey Malykh is a Professor in the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, where he directs the Laboratory for Developmental Behavioral Genetics and co-directs the Russian-British laboratory for Behavioural Genetics. He is also the Head (Academician-Secretary) of the Department of Psychology and Developmental Physiology of the Russian Academy of Education and co-director of the  International Centre for Research in Human Development (ICRHD) at Tomsk State University. The focus of his research is currently on the genetic and environmental origins of variation in psychological and psychophysiological traits. The goal of his research programme is to provide insights into the development of individual differences in cognitive abilities, emotional and motivational processes and academic achievement. Professor Sergey Malykh has published more than 350 papers and is the senior author of the major textbook in the field in Russia (“Foundation of Behavioural Genetics”,1998; the first textbook on this topic in Russia). He is also the co-editor of several books including, “Gene. Brain. Behavior.” (Eds: Malykh, Torgersen), Oslo, Moscow, RP PRESS, 2007; “Behavioural Genetics for Education’ (Eds: Kovas, Malykh, Gaysina), Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016; Behavioural Genomics: Child Development and Education (Eds: Malykh, Kovas, Gaysina) Publishing House of Tomsk State University, 2016.

Prof. Sergey Malykh has an MSc (Distinction) degree in Psychology from Saratov State University (1979); a PhD in Psychophysiology from the Scientific Research Institute of General and Educational Psychology, Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, USSR (1986); Dr.Habiilitation in Behavioural Genetics from Psychological Institute of Russian academy of Education (2000).  He is also an elected member of the Russian Academy of Education (2012).


Professor Donald H. Saklofske

Professor, Dept of Psychology, University of Western Ontario. Canada.

I joined the Psychology Department at the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 2012. Previously, I was a Professor in Applied Psychology and Associate Dean Research (Faculty of Education) at the University of Calgary.  I am currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary as well as the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology at Beijing Normal University, and a Research Member in the Laboratory for Research and Intervention in Positive Psychology and Prevention, University of Florence, Italy.  Journal editorships include Personality and Individual Differences and the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. I am also Editor for the Human Exceptionality book series published by Springer.

I am a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and Society for Personality and Social Psychology.  I recently served on the Board of Directors and as President of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences and the Board of the Canadian Psychological Association. My research and professional interests and contributions are included in other sections of my profile (, including my attached cv. The diversity of research achievements of our current lab of exceptional graduate students is outlined as well. Finally, I have a long standing interest in the martial arts and hold a black belt in Shito-Ryu karate.


Professor Constantine Sedikides

Constantine Sedikides’ research is on self and identity (including narcissism) and their interplay with emotion (especially nostalgia) as well as motivation, close relationships, and group or organizational processes ( This research has been supported by grants from various funding sources, such as Economic and Social Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, and National Institute of Health. He has received several awards including Distinguished Lifetime Career Award from International Society for Self and Identity), Kurt Lewin Medal for Outstanding Scientific Contribution from European Association of Social Psychology, and The Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge from The British Psychological Society. Before joining University of Southampton, Constantine taught at University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. He holds a BA from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and a PhD from The Ohio State University, USA.


Professor Peter J. Clough

Peter is currently head of psychology at Huddersfield University after holding similar positions at MMU and the University of Hull.  He is an occupational and sports psychologist, training at the University of Bradford, University of Sheffield and the University of Aberdeen. Peter is interested in all aspects of applied and performance psychology, having a clear focus on the interface between theory and the appliance of psychology in real world settings. He has published over 50 articles and has produced a number of books and book chapters in his career.  He was the co-developer of the 4 ‘C’s model of mental toughness and has spent considerable time developing this theoretical construct and designing valid and robust ways of measuring it

Indicative references:

Clough, P. J., Houge Mackenzie, S., Mallabon, E., & Brymer, E. (2016). Adventurous physical activity environments: A mainstream intervention for mental health. Sport Medicine. In press.

Sabouri, S., Gerber, M., Bahmani, D. S., Lemola, S., Clough, P. J., Kalak, N., . . . Brand, S. (2016). Examining Dark Triad traits in relation to mental toughness and physical activity in young adults. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment12, 229-235. doi:10.2147/NDT.S97267

Borkoles, E., Carroll, S., Clough, P., & Polman, R. C. J. (2016). Effect of a non-dieting lifestyle randomised control trial on psychological well-being and weight management in morbidly obese pre-menopausal women. Maturitas83, 51-58. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.09.010

Earle, F., Hockey, B., Earle, K., & Clough, P. (2015). Separating the effects of task load and task motivation on the effort–fatigue relationship. Motivation and Emotion, 39(4), 467-476. doi:10.1007/s11031-015-9481-2

Perry, J. L., Nicholls, A. R., Clough, P. J., & Crust, L. (2015). Assessing model fit: Caveats and recommendations for confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory structural equation modeling. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science19(1), 12-21. doi:10.1080/1091367X.2014.952370

Lab Manager


Mrs Foteini-Maria Gianniou

I have joined the InteRRaCt lab in September 2017 as an Erasmus Visiting Researcher (September 2017 to April 2018), where I completed part of my MSc dissertation. I have completed (2018) an MSc degree on Human Performance and Health in Aristotle University, Thessaloni, Greece, specialising in School Physical Education and Psychology.  My MSc dissertation explored how physical activity influences psychopathology, through increasing narcissism and mental toughness, and it was presented in the 3rd World Conference on Personality that took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, in April 2019.

I am a Research Associate in the InteRRaCt lab since May 2018 coordinating data collection for the Beyond Good and Evil project including analyses of datasets in preparation for several publications. I am the Lab Manager since September 2019 responsible for performing a broad variety of administrative tasks and assisting in communication among Visiting Research Associates and members, who collaborate across various projects . In these roles, I am gaining invaluable experience ultimately aiming at pursuing a PhD in the InteRRaCt Lab.

I have gained a BSc degree in Physical Education and Sports from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. During my undergraduate degree, I have attended several conferences in the areas of psychology and physical education in childhood and I have presented my research on the influence of certain types of activities (e.g. swimming and taekwondo) on children’s psychology in national conferences and seminars.  I am particularly interested in the areas of personality, resilience, mental toughness, stress and anxiety and individual differences in coping strategies.






Dr. Giulio Costantini

Giulio Costantini completed his PhD at the Psychology Department of the University of Milano-Bicocca in 2015, with a thesis entitled “Network Analysis: A New Perspective on Personality Psychology”, supervised by prof. Marco Perugini. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the same department. His main research interests span the fields of personality psychology, psychological methods, and network analysis. His research has been focused mainly on developing network analysis as a statistical and theoretical tool to model personality. Additionally, he focused on applications of the network methodology to understand the structure and processes of a specific personality trait, namely conscientiousness. He is also interested in the psychometric measurement of personality, with a keen eye on implicit measures. Other research interests include the relationships between personality, behavior, and psychological situations; the psychometric measurement of creative problem-solving skills; statistical power and scientific reproducibility.


Dr. Neil Dagnall

Dr Neil Dagnall is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Applied Cognitive Psychology at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Neil alongside Andrew Denovan heads the Applied Cognitive Psychology & Performance Research Group. He also founded the Parapsychological Research Group, which he co-leads with Dr Kenneth Drinkwater in 2003. Neil’s academic interest in parapsychology dates back to 2001 when he took over a final year undergraduate course on the subject. The course in various forms has run ever since and regular attracts around 100 students per year. Additionally, works closely with Dr Andrew Denovan on projects around the broad topics of individual differences, personality and statistical analysis, and with Andrew Parker, who a world-leading researcher in the field of memory (i.e., effects of saccadic bilateral eye movements on recall).


Dr. Andrew Denovan

Dr Andrew Denovan is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His principal research interests are in the areas of differential psychology, positive psychology, and the student experience within higher education. Currently, Andrew’s research is concerned with exploring how positive psychology theory can contribute to our understanding of coping with stress, and how coping leads to adaptive outcomes including resilience. Another main research interest of Andrew’s includes research methods such as psychometrics and structural equation modelling. To this end, Andrew regularly works with academics on collaborative research projects offering his statistical support.


Dr. Mihalis Doumas

Mihalis completed his undergraduate (1999) and masters degrees (2001) in Sport and Exercise Science in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He moved to the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, where he did his PhD (2001-2005) and then to Belgium to work as a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, initially funded by a university project (2006-2008) and then by a research fellowship from the research foundation of Flanders (2008-2011). Since August 2011 he is a Lecturer in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast. Mihalis is primarily interested in the control of posture and balance over the lifespan and in clinical populations. Specifically, his work focuses on (1) Life-span development of sensorimotor and cognitive processes (2) multisensory integration in postural control and (3) timing of rhythmic movements, using Neurophysiological (TMS, TDCS and fNIRS), cognitive (working memory, executive control) and Developmental (Lifespan) approaches.


Dr. Fabia Franco

After studying Psychology in Italy at the Universities of Padua (BSc/MSc) and Bologna (PhD), I was post-doctoral scholar for four years funded by the Italian CNR, the ESF and the ESRC at the University of Stirling, where I worked at the Infant Study Unit with G. Butterworth. I then held a tenured lectureship at the University of Padua but relocated to the UK for family reasons and joined Middlesex University in London where I am Senior Lecturer. My main research interests have revolved around various aspects of communication in infants and young neurotypical and atypical children, with more recent developments extending the study of human communication to musical interactions: the relationship between language and music; music and emotion regulation; music and cognitive functioning; developmental outcomes associated with early musical interactions in the family. My research is interdisciplinary, and I believe that groundbreaking work emerges in the cracks and crossovers between fields, disciplines and methodologies. Collaborating with musicologists & musicians, neuroscientists, phoneticians, anthropologists and computer scientists has been so invigorating and humbling (helps keeping a sense of perspective/humour). Current funding gratefully acknowledged: British Academy, SEMPRE.

Dr. Fabia Franco, Department of Psychology, School of Science and Technology, Middlesex University, London



Dr. Darya Gaysina

Darya Gaysina is a lead of the Environment, Development, Genetics and Epigenetics (EDGE) in Psychopathology Laboratory and a Lecturer at the School of Psychology, University of Sussex. Darya obtained a first class degree in Biology from the Bashkir State University, Russia, and PhD in Human Genetics from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Her PhD thesis was devoted to investigating molecular genetic risk factors for human aggressive and suicidal behaviour. She was awarded an INTAS Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research into genetic underpinnings of suicidal behaviour and major depression at the Institute Biochemistry and Genetics, RAS and at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. After that, she was awarded an MRC Career Development Fellowship to develop a research programme in the life course epidemiology of affective disorders at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL. Darya became a Lecturer at the University of Leicester before joining the University of Sussex in 2013. Her research interests are focused on exploring environmental and genetic factors, and their interplay, in relation to affective disorders across the life course. In her research, Darya combines approaches of molecular genetics, life course epidemiology, and developmental psychopathology. She is an author of more that 50 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and, more recently, a co-editor (with Y. Kovas and S. Malykh) of the book ‘Behavioural Genetics for Education’.



Dr Cyrille Kossigan Kokou-Kpolou

I have gained a MSc degree in applied clinical and health psychology at University of Lomé, Togo (2011) and completed my Ph.D at University of Picardy Jules Verne, Amiens, France (2014-2017), where I served as Assistant Professor. My main research contributions span across the fields of applied clinical and health psychology, psychopathology, and psychometrics. Specifically, my research interests embrace a broad array of cross-disciplinary topics such as bereavement, prolonged grief disorder (PGD), as well as co-occurring psychological vulnerabilities and postbereavement well-being.

With over 35 peer-reviewed articles, my work makes an authoritative impact on bereavement and related mental health research. The ongoing work revolves around the clinical and research issues surrounding the global applicability of the PGD criteria in non-western communities. I am currently developing the post-bereavement suicide risk scale (pBSRS), a new tool which aids the early identification and design of preventive programs/interventions for mid-aged and adult bereaved people who may be at risk for suicide in French-speaking countries as well as other collectivist communities.

The short and mid-term goal of my research is to investigate the longitudinal pathways between resilience and psychoneuroimmunity, as well as which – and how- activities of mindful self-care contribute in psychoneuroimmunity by promoting mental health and well-being following traumatic events such as bereavements, and psychologically vulnerable situations such as suicide attempts.

Besides being an international research collaborator at Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Lab (V-TRaC), University of Ottawa, Canada, and Associate Researcher at Laboratoire Subjectivité, Lien Social et Modernité (SuLiSoM – UR 3071), Université de Strasbourg, France, I also collaborate with other researchers across Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana. Haïti, Nigeria, and Togo.


Ms Ying Lin

Ying is a Ph.D. student at University of Southern California. Her current research interests include experiences of cultural fluency and disfluency as well as cultural mindsets. Her interests in cultural mindsets revolve around how specific elements in the context can activate cultural mindsets that carry consequences for judgment and behavior. She’s also interested in embodied cognition and metaphors in a cross-cultural context. 


Mr. Maxim Likhanov

He received his BSc hons (Specialist) in Linguistics at TSU in 2015. Since that he was a junior research assistant in the Laboratory for cognitive investigations and behavioral genetics where he explored the links between anxiety (maths and trait), cognitive abilities (maths, spatial, verbal etc.) and brain activity (rhythms and event related potentials). In addition to his role as a research assistant, he was a involved in science dissemination body – The Accessible Genetics Consortium (TAGC) where he was responsible for event organisation and management of the Russian part of the project. Maxim was also a manger for an MSc programme Human Development: Genetics, Neuroscience, and Psychology at TSU.

Maxim Likhanov is currently a PhD student in Tomsk State University (TSU). Since 2018 Maxim is also a coordinator for the laboratory for Cognitive and Interdisciplinary studies in Educational Centre “Sirius”. Sirius is an educational centre for schoolchildren recognized as gifted in different fields (Science, Art and Sport) in Sochi, Russia. Maxim is one of the research associates of the project “Individual Differences in Education and Achievement study”(IDEAs). The project is supervised by professor Yulia Kovas and aims to explore the nature of giftedness in different fields and investigating the factors which are linked to high achievement in different domains e.g. personality traits or certain abilities.

He is involved in InteRRaCt lab to help with a research which aims at investigating relationships among personality constructs such as Mental toughness, Big Five, Dark Triad and Strengths and Difficulties in gifted children.


Ms. Lorna Lawless

Lorna is a coaching psychologist; her areas of expertise are mental toughness, emotional intelligence and flow states. Lorna uses evidence-informed coaching practices to help clients reach their potential and perform at their best. Lorna completed her Master’s Degree in Positive and Coaching Psychology from University College Cork. Her research dissertation focused on MMA athletes experiences of flow states. This led to a natural progression of coaching in the area of combat sports in addition to corporate settings.

Lorna is a licensed user of AQR’s Mental Toughness assessments. She uses this model to coach clients to develop these core skills and to assess the impact that training in combat sports has on individuals levels of mental toughness. Lorna’s current research interests are focusing on the effects of training in combat sports for women.

Lorna has ten years of corporate experience and has coached CEOs, managers, professional and amateur athletes and facilitated group sessions in both settings.  She has presented and published her research at international conferences on emotional intelligence and its impact on reducing work-related stress. Recently, Lorna presented her coaching case studies at the Mental Toughness Symposium at Queen’s University Belfast.


Dr. Margherita Malanchini

I received my BSc in Psychology from Goldsmiths University of London in 2010. After one year working in a secondary school in London, supporting teenagers with learning difficulties, I started an MSc in Developmental Sciences at Birkbeck College. I obtained my MSc in September 2012, graduating with Distinction. After working as a research coordinator at InLab, I started my PhD at Goldsmiths University of London in 2013. My PhD research, supervised by Professor Yulia Kovas, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC),explored how motivation and anxiety contribute to differences in achievement between students.  During my PhD I collaborated at several large-scale projects, including the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), where I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, mentored by Professor Robert Plomin. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, working for the Texas Twin Project, mentored by Dr Elliot Tucker-Drob and Dr Paige Harden. During my PhD I founded a longitudinal study, MILES (a Multi-cohort Investigation into Learning and Educational Success). The goal of my research is to provide knowledge that can inform educational practice, ultimately allowing students to achieve their full potential. 


Dr. Constantinos Mitsopoulos

Dr. Constantinos Mitsopoulos is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University. His main scientific interests revolve around theoretical, mathematical and computational methods to investigate the underlying mechanisms of neural systems, with great emphasis on learning and decision making. He enjoys working at the borders of theory and application of artificial intelligence and machine learning methods.  

Constantinos received his BSc in Physics from the University of Athens, and subsequently moved to London for an MSc in Machine Learning at the University College London. There, he was captivated by the elusive functionality of the brain and embarked on his journey into computational neuroscience field at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. He acquired a PhD degree from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck University of London, where he worked upon Reinforcement Learning and cognitive modelling.


Dr. Giovanni Moneta

Dr Giovanni B. Moneta is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University. He earned his BSc in Psychology from the University of Padua and his MA and PhD in Quantitative Psychology and Research Methodology from the University of Chicago. He worked as researcher in various organisations in Europe, including the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale (INSERM). He then worked as associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, teaching in the areas of personality and motivation. Prior to joining London Metropolitan University, he was a research fellow at Harvard Business School. His main research interests are in positive psychology, with a focus on optimal experience (flow), creativity, adaptive metacognitions, and on how these influence performance in occupational and educational contexts. He is particularly interested in further developing models of flow and performance in challenging work contexts and testing them on longitudinal data.

Giovanni is the author of Positive Psychology: A Critical Introduction and co-editor of Psychology of Creativity: Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Processes. He is currently working on a number of research papers and an edited book provisionally titled Psychology of Work Complexity: Change, Stage Processes, and Trade-offs.


Dr. Dara Mojtahedi

Dara is a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Huddersfield, teaching on Psychology (BSc), Investigative Psychology (MSc) and Security Sciences (MSc) courses. He is also a fellow of Higher Education Academy and a member of the Secure Societies Institute. With a background in Forensic and Investigative Psychology, his principle research interests are in the retrieval and evaluation of eyewitness memory — his PhD explored the impact of co-witness influence on blame conformity. Dara has presented his research at numerous domestic and international conferences, and has had his work featured in various magazines and newspapers. The emerging findings of his research have become widely accepted by both academics and practitioners from various police forces. In addition to research on memory, Dara has started exploring the applications of psychology within sports management — having recently been awarded a research grant by FIFA and the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) for his project on referee abuse in football. As a combat sports athlete himself, his future plans for research are to explore the impact of personality in combat sports.


Dr. Rene Mottus

Having worked as a clinical psychologist in a psychiatry clinic, I decided to  embark on an academic career. I completed my PhD (2009) in the University of Tartu, Estonia. After a being a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, I started as a lecturer, and then Reader, in the Department of Psychology of the University of Edinburgh.
I am interested in various topics related to human personality. Currently much of my research is on the question of how to most efficiently represent human personality. When should we employ broader traits such as the Big Five domains and when numerous narrower characteristics such as “facets” and “nuances”? I propose that a many-dimensional representation of personality can often open up entirely new research avenues, capitalizing on patterns of variance between traits in their quantifiable properties (I call this personomics). I am also interested in personality development and behaviour genetics. For example, we have delineated age-trends in the magnitude of personality variance and the genetic and environmental contributions to these.


Mr Julian Mutz

Julian completed his undergraduate training in Psychology (B.Sc.) at the University of Groningen (2012-2015) and at University College London (2014-2015). He earned a postgraduate degree in Affective Disorders (M.Sc.) from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London (2015-2016) and is also a graduate of the International Master in Affective Neuroscience programme (M.Sc.) of Maastricht University (2015-2017). Julian has in the past worked on several research projects, for instance the PRAISe study, a multi-centre randomised controlled trial led by King’s College London. He is currently working as a research assistant at the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Imperial College London. His main research interests cover a broad range of topics including mood disorders, brain stimulation, evidence synthesis, dreaming, and research on emotions.  


Dr. Tara O Neill

Dr Tara O Neill is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, working with Dr Teresa Rushe on projects focusing on long-term predictors, mediators, moderators and outcomes of looked after children in N.Ireland. Tara’s involvement in the InteRRaCt lab will see her collecting and analysing data from these projects using a number of scales including the Mental Toughness scale. Before joining the school, Tara worked in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, QUB, conducting extensive secondary data analysis of the Belfast Youth Development Longitudinal Study. As well as being a skilled and experienced researcher in areas of psychological trauma, adversity, mental health, drugs and alcohol use, Tara has also extensive knowledge and experience of statistical methodology and its application. Tara’s PhD research focused on early environmental influences in psychosis looking specifically at the psychological sequelae of female sexual victimisation.  Her area of research explored trauma-psychosis associations in traumatised and non-traumatised populations, explored relationships between intervening variables in the trauma-psychosis paradigm and investigated the mediating role of early and recent adverse experiences on the developmental trajectory of psychotic like experiences and dissociation. Tara’s main areas of research interest focus on the links between traumatic experiences and psychopathology, transgenerational trauma and symptomology and substance misuse as coping mechanisms. Some of her past projects have focused on adolescent alcohol use, school disengagement and pathways to being NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training: Alcohol Research UK funded); while, one of her on-going research projects focuses on variations and determinants of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS/Legal Highs) in N.Ireland: National Institute of Health Research funded).


Dr. Oliver Perra

I am a developmental psychologist. My research interests lie in the factors and mechanisms that explain differences in children’s behaviour (e.g. aggressive behaviour) and in their abilities to learn from others (e.g. the ability to imitate). I obtained a PhD at the University of Sheffield, and I collaborate with well-established longitudinal studies of children (the Cardiff Child Development Study) and adolescents (the Belfast Youth Development Study). I have expertise in the application of sophisticated quantitative methods to longitudinal analyses (e.g. multilevel hierarchical models; latent growth models, mixture models, among others) and in the assessment of Randomised Controlled Trials.

I am currently running a feasibility study of an attention training programme with very preterm infants, funded by PHA-R&D Division. The study will adopt a programme developed by our collaborator Sam Wass (UEL) and train preterm infants’ ability to control attention. Attention control may provide these infants with the building blocks for developing further learning skills. I also contribute to the pilot of a midwifery home visiting intervention for improving outcomes of children born to socially vulnerable mothers (the New Baby Programme). Finally, I am the co-PI of the Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register, a register of all children with this condition in Northern Ireland.


Dr. John Perry

John is Acting Dean of Arts in Mary Immaculate College.  John has published several peer-reviewed papers on mental toughness, he has contributed book chapters, and he has presented on the subject at international conferences. He is an accomplished psychometrician, having published many studies on the development and validation of several psychometric scales, including the MTQ48. He is a leading researcher in the application of validity testing, including exploratory structural equation modelling, bifactor modelling, and tests of internal consistency. In the InteRRaCt lab, John is involved in several projects that aim to explore the role of non-cognitive factors that influence academic performance and he has a leading role in consulting on issues around statistical analyses and psychometrics.


Ms Rachel Plouffe

Rachel Plouffe is a fourth-year doctoral student at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Rachel completed her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University at Kingston and her Master of Science degree at the University of Western Ontario with a focus on item properties and the validity of psychological assessment. Rachel’s PhD dissertation, titled The Role of Dark Personalities in Intimate Partner Violence, examines the impact of the Dark Tetrad of personality and exposure to violence in childhood on partner and participant levels of physical, psychological, and sexual intimate partner violence. Rachel’s dissertation work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her areas of research interest include personality assessment, intimate partner violence, and psychometrics. Aside from her PhD work, Rachel is a research assistant and data analyst for Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in Canada and a research consultant for Metrein Measurement, Monitoring, and Evaluation Consultancy.


Dr. Teresa Rushe

I am a Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. My research falls within the area developmental psychopathology with particular expertise in Developmental Neuropsychology. I completed my PhD in 1996  on the neuropsychology of schizophrenia at the Institute of Psychiatry in London under the supervision of Sir Robin Murray and Professor Robin Morris. Since then I have published widely in the area of psychosis, with a particular focus on understanding the neurodevelopmental origins and I was the PI on the Northern Ireland First Episode Psychosis study which I set up in 2002. My expertise in developmental neuropsychology was developed during my post-doctoral research at the Institute of Psychiatry when I collaborated with pediatricians from University College Hospital on a longitudinal study investigating the long-term outcome of very preterm birth. At the University of Manchester (2004-2008) I was able to develop my research interests in developmental psychopathology and to use state of the art structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to understand both normal and abnormal brain development. More recent projects include the North West Adolescence Study which I set up with colleagues at Ulster University to explore the incidence and antecedents of self-harm and other risk behaviours in adolescents. I am currently working on several projects exploring the impact of childhood adversity on adult outcomes, including an ESRC funded study investigating the psychological and neuropsychological outcomes in young people who were in care in early childhood.


Dr. Christoph Scheepers

Dr Scheepers obtained his psychology degree at the University of Bochum in 1991, and his PhD at the University of Freiburg in 1997. He held a two-year post-doc position at the University of Glasgow (1998-2000) before starting a C1 assistant professorship in computational linguistics at the University of Saarbruecken (2000-2003.). He then held a lectureship in psychology at the University of Dundee (2003-2005) before moving to Glasgow in October 2005 where he currently holds a senior lecturer position. His main research areas are psycholinguistics and the psychology of language. He employs various brain-imaging and behavioural methods, including the recording of eye-movements during reading and linguistically aided scene perception (visual-world paradigm).


Dr Scheepers is editorial board member for JEP:General (, Cognition (, Frontiers in Language Sciences ( and Collabra (


Dr. Tim J. Smith

Tim J. Smith BSc. Hons, PhD. (Edin.) is a Reader/Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London. He is the head of the CINE (Cognition in Naturalistic Environments) Lab which studies audiovisual attention, perception and memory in real-world and mediated environments (including Film, TV and VR) as well as the impacts of such media on social and cognitive development. He is an expert in active vision and eye tracking and applies empirical Cognitive Psychology methods to questions of Film Cognition publishing his work on the subject in both Psychology and Film journals.


Mr. Doug Strycharczyk

Doug is the CEO of AQR International which he founded in 1989 – now recognised as one of the most innovative test publishers in the world.  Doug’s expertise includes development of Psychometric Tests and related development Programmes –playing a key role in developing MTQ48 as well as the Integrated Leadership Measure (ILM72), Carrus – a behavioural employability measure and TWOI – a team work orientation inventory, all in collaboration with Peter Clough. He is currently completing research (for a PhD) which will expand understanding of the Mental Toughness concept and questionnaire.  His experience covers Organisational Development, Top Team Assessment, Leadership Development and Talent ManagementDoug has pioneered the application of the Mental Toughness concept to any sector where individuals face challenge or stressors. Doug works in the Occupational, Education, Social Work, Sports and Health sectors. Doug has co-authored with Peter Clough “Developing Mental Toughness” (Kogan Page 2105) now available in multiple languages as well as “Developing Mental Toughness in Young people” (Karnac 2014)Doug has co-authored with Peter Clough chapters in the following leading books:

  • Psychometrics in Coaching  (2009) (Kogan Page)
  • Leadership Coaching (2010) (Kogan Page)
  • Coaching in Education (2011)

With Charles Elvin CEO ILM Doug has co-authored Developing Resilient Organisations (Kogan Page 2014) and with Charlotte Bosworth (Director OCR) “Developing Employability and Enterprise (Kogan Page 2016). Doug holds a first class honours degree in Economics.  Email Doug at


Professor Rhiannon Turner

Rhiannon Turner is a Professor of Social Psychology and intergroup relations researcher. She is Director of the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research examines the effect of several different forms of intergroup contact in reducing prejudice, including cross-group friendship (e.g., Turner & Cameron, 2016; Turner & Feddes, 2011; Turner, Tam et al., 2014), extended contact (e.g., West & Turner, 2014; Paterson, Turner, & Conner, 2015), imagined contact (e.g., Crisp & Turner, 2012; Turner & West, 2012), and e-contact (e.g., White, Turner, Verrelli, Harvey, & Hanna, 2018). She is am also interested in the role of personality (e.g., Turner, Dhont et al., 2014; Vezzali, Turner, Capozza, & Trifilleti, 2017; Choma, Jagavat, Hodson, & Turner, 2017) and nostalgia in explaining intergroup relations (e.g., Turner, Wildschut, Sedikides & Gheorghiu, 2013, Turner, Wildschut, & Sedikides, 2018). She currently holds research funding from the ESRC, EPSRC, and SEUPB, and has previously received funding from the British Academy, ESRC, NIHR, and Leverhulme Trust. Rhiannon is past recipient of the BPS Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology (2007), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Robert B. Cialdini Award for excellence in field research (2008), and the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize (2011). From 2019-2022 she is co-editor-in-chief of the European Review of Social Psychology. She is also an associate editor for Group Processes and Intergroup Relations and the British Journal of Social Psychology, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and the European Journal of Social Psychology. Rhiannon got her first degree in Psychology from Cardiff University in 2000, her Masters degree from the University of Kent in 2002, and her D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 2006. After holding an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Birmingham, she was appointed as Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Leeds in February 2007, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in August 2010, and took up her current post in September 2012.


Dr. Sam Wass

ESRC Future Research Leader, Senior Lecturer, University of East London

Sam gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and did his PhD at the Centre for Brain Cognitive Development in London. After this he was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge. After this he moved to the University of East London, supported by  an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship.

Sam’s research examines how concentration, stress and learning capacities develop during childhood. He works with typically developing children as well as children growing up in diverse socio-economic status backgrounds in East London. He is also a collaborator on a range of projects in London, Europe, the United States and Canada with clinical populations (children with Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, preterm birth and Rett Syndrome). His research has been funded by the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Health Research, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, and others.


Dr. Paul Wilson

Paul was awarded a PhD in 2014 for a thesis entitled On the Relationship between Intelligence and Inhibitory Control : Individual Differences in Cognitive Chronometry. After a research fellow position investigating the development of non-cognitive traits and their influence on literacy and numeracy outcomes in young children he was appointed lecturer specialising in education at the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast where he specialises in Individual Differences, Psychometrics and Quantitative Analysis. He also lectures in Psychology at the QUB School of Medicine. His research interests are in the areas of cognitive ability and personality, especially factors underlying individual differences in educational attainment.  He has pedagogical research interests in the areas of student engagement and the use of personal response systems in the classroom. Paul is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, he is also a member of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences and the International Society for Intelligence Research.


PhD Students

Ms. Micheala McIlvenna

I am a first year (2020-) PhD student in the InteRRaCt Lab supervised by Dr. Kostas A. Papageorgiou and Professor Cherie Armour.

I graduated in 2020 with a BSc Psychology in Queens University Belfast. During my degree, I was working as a part time research associate for the PaCT Project in the InteRRaCt Lab since November 2018, which has been very beneficial as I have been able to get hands-on experience in research. This has inspired me to take part in other projects within QUB. The PaCT project explores parent’s mental health and its link to children’s psychopathology, which is very pertinent in today’s society. Before coming to university, I was a volunteer leader with a local youth group for children of different ages, this highlighted the impact this sort of research could have. I am excited to continue being a member of the InteRRact lab as it is not only enjoyable but also beneficial for both myself and the scientific community. Additionally, it allows me to develop my skills and knowledge to hopefully improve the life of others with my own research in the future.


Ms. Teresa Sofia Gomes Arrulo

I am a third-year PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), from Lisbon, Portugal. I completed my BSc Psychology with First Class Honours at London Metropolitan University, receiving the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award for Best Overall Performance, London Metropolitan University’s Recognition Award for Academic Excellence and Top Thirty Students Award, in 2017. My Bachelor’s dissertation focused on the influence of music listening on interpersonal relationships. I developed and delivered Psychology talks and workshops as a student and furthered this work after graduation, as a Programme Assistant for the Widening Participation team at London Metropolitan University (2017-2018).

To advance my research outputs and strengthen my skills in an academically stimulating environment, I moved to Belfast and became a PhD student at QUB in January 2019. My PhD project, “Beneath the Surface”, combines my primary research interests, exploring the relationship(s) between stress, personality and music listening in adults. Specifically, it investigates how particular traits and music styles may influence individuals’ levels of stress and performance under stressful conditions. This involves assessing how the controversiality and common undesirability of certain traits (e.g. Psychopathy) and music styles (e.g. hip-hop/rap) might conceal their potential advantages in relation to stress, as these can become overshadowed by the advantages of their more unequivocally desirable counterparts (e.g. Mental Toughness or classical music, respectively). The importance of this research lies in its potential to provide more accessible strategies to combat stress and its negative repercussions.


Ms. Tayler Truhan

I am a second-year PhD student in the InteRRaCt Lab. I’m originally from Orlando, Florida (USA), where I completed my BSc in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. During my undergraduate programme, I completed my Honors Thesis on parentification in deployed vs. non-deployed military families. My thesis project received first place at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence and the UCF Libraries Annual Award for Excellence. In 2017, I completed my MSc in Psychology of Childhood Adversity at QUB and received a Distinction. My dissertation was conducted as part of the PaCT project in the InteRRaCt lab and focused on narcissistic traits and mental toughness in parents and child behavioural outcomes.

Currently, I am the lead PhD student on the PaCT Project, which collaborates with primary and secondary schools across Northern Ireland. My PhD focuses on a wider spectrum of personality in parents, including the Big Five, Dark Triad, and Mental Toughness, as well as parental acceptance-rejection. In adolescents, I assess personality traits, including the Dark Triad and Mental Toughness, perceived parental acceptance-rejection, and behavioural outcomes. This study aims to provide a comprehensive look at the broad picture of how parent personality, adolescent traits, and contextual factors (e.g. parenting, SES) interact to produce adolescent outcomes. As part of this research, I utilize network analysis, a novel statistical technique that presents relationships between variables as a graphical model. I believe that this research is important as it may provide the building blocks for future interventions targeting children and families.


Research Associates

Ms. Lauren Ferguson

I am a second year BSc Psychology student currently studying at Queen’s University Belfast, where I have developed a specific interest in individual differences and Developmental Psychology. I will be involved in several projects within the InteRRaCt lab, particularly focusing on the areas of personality and psychopathology, and look forward to further developing my research skills whilst working alongside accomplished students and researchers.



Ms. Caoimhe Nic an Fhirleighinn

I recently graduated from my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast – as part of my final year thesis I investigated Romantic Satisfaction and Commitment in cross community and non-cross community couples in Northern Ireland, supervised by Professor Rhiannon Turner, for which I received a first-class result. In my second year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be supervised by Dr Kostas Papageorgiou for a project titled ‘Finding the Dots in the Dark’ which looked at the Dark Tetrad of personality, number sense and cognitive ability. This propelled my interest in Developmental psychology, specifically the development of socially adverse personality traits and how, in the correct context, they can have positive inter- and intrapersonal benefits. Following the completion of my undergraduate degree I reached out to Dr Papageorgiou for advice on how I could advance my research skills and expand my knowledge in this area. I was introduced to the InteRRaCt Lab and I am currently working as a research assistant to Ms Teresa Sofia Gomes Arrulo for her PhD project ‘Beneath the Surface.’ My experience so far has been invaluable; I am honoured to have the opportunity to learn from such an amazing team of researchers and I feel inspired to further my own studies by completing a PhD in the future!



Mrs Sophia Papageorgiou

I am currently a postgraduate student in the Hellenic Open University in Greece studying for an MSc in Learning Difficulties. I have more than four years of full-time work experience in primary schools supporting children with special needs and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and ADHD. I received a BSc in Education in 2013 with Distinction from the Department of Special Education at University of Thessaly in Volos, Greece. I jointed the InteRRaCt Lab in September 2019 as am International Research Associate in order to gain research experience on personality and psychopathology.  My role involves mainly coordinating data collection for the Beyond Good and Evil project in Greece aiming to gather data on dark personality traits for cross-cultural comparisons and in order to validate existing measures for use with Greek samples.



MSc Students

Ms Tara Alexander

I obtained a BSc Hons in Psychology in 2016 and I am currently undertaking a MSc in Childhood Adversity at Queens University, Belfast. Whilst I have always had a deep interest in how the human mind works and why we behave the way we do, my work within the educational setting ignited my interest specifically in Developmental Psychology. Understanding the real life implications adversity can have on a childs future is what motivates my research. My main area of interest within Developmental Psychology is adversity and the relationship between particular personality triats and mental toughness.

I am excited to be working within the InteRRaCT Lab and developing my skills as a research alongside an amazing team. This opportunity will allow me to conduct and be part of research that will help improve the lives of others.



Ms Erin Gillespie

Having recently completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology at Ulster University, Coleraine, I am currently completing a Master’s degree at Queen’s University Belfast specialising in Applied Developmental Psychology. To gain practical experience in Psychology, I applied and was awarded entry into a year’s placement as a research assistant at Ulster University as part of my undergraduate course, focusing on both developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. It was here that I confirmed my aspirations to become an Educational Psychologist. My specific interests lie within the influencers and consequences of having a learning disability and individuals’ characteristics linked to those disabilities and this interest has formed the basis of my Master’s thesis. I am very much looking forward to working with the InteRRaCT Lab to further my research knowledge and skills which will equip me well, as I move forward into my chosen career path.


Ms Niamh McCann

I was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland, and have since moved to Belfast to pursue my academic interests. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast in the summer of 2018. I continued on to be offered a place on the Psychology of Childhood Adversity MSc course at Queen’s, which is where I am studying at present. I find many areas of psychological research to be fascinating and have worked on projects investigating mental health and romantic relationships, the role of companion animals in maintaining psychosocial wellbeing, and political apologies across cultures. In future, the area in which I’m intending to specialise in is educational psychology, due to my particular interest in development and learning, alongside my love for working with children.
This academic year I will be collaborating on the PaCT project for my MSc dissertation. I look forward to strengthening my research skills and contributing to an exciting field of psychological research that is in its infancy.

Ms Rebecca McDonnell

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology in Dublin City University and am currently studying a Master’s Degree in Applied Developmental Psychology in Queens University Belfast. I have always had a strong interest in Education and aspire to be an Educational Psychologist in the future. By doing a Master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology, I am able to gain a more in-depth understanding of the human brain and what influences our development over the life trajectory. My interests lie in the influence of personality in education and on adolescent mental health. This has provided the foundation for my dissertation in my Master’s Degree.

I am very much looking forward to be working within the InteRRaCT Lab as part of the Team and honing my skills as a researcher and possible future psychologist.