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Our Research group aims to encourage and support the production and dissemination of research in the broad areas of Family, Infant and Child psychology.  We facilitate this through a regular forum for updates, discussions and reviews of relevant research. Our group enhances opportunities for networking within the University of Chester and with collaborators at other institutions.  We provide peer review and advice to members for research activities such as conference presentations, journal articles and grant applications.

Meet our team

Lab Co-ordinator: Lisa Oakley Senior Lecturer

Ros Bramwell, Professor, Head of School

Julie Kirkham, Senior Lecturer

Julian Lloyd, Senior Lecturer

Michelle Mattison, Associate Professor

Linda O’Neill, Senior Lecturer

Mandy Urquhart, Deputy Head of School


Some of our current projects

The development of aesthetic judgements of abstract and realistic artworks from 4 to 10 years (PI: Julie Kirkham). Art and aesthetics are defining features of human culture. Children’s aesthetic judgements have received little attention in comparison to adults despite claims that this could reveal important information about their developing socio-cognitive abilities (e.g., Parsons, 1987). This research investigated primary school children’s justifications for their aesthetic preferences for both abstract and realistic artworks and how these develop with age. Findings showed that colour is a frequent basis for preferences at all ages, whilst the subject matter, understanding and formal properties of artwork became more important over time, particularly during middle childhood (6-8 years). We also found that the basis for justifications differed according to the type of artwork viewed. This project suggests aesthetic judgements change in line with cognitive development. Future studies will extend this research throughout the lifespan, working with older children, adults and specialist populations. 

Cultural differences in self-control: relations between family, problem behaviours, and positive well-being (PI: Mandy Urquhart). This project involves teams of researchers working in Italy, China, and Costa Rica.  Dr Mandy Yilmaz and her team of Student Researchers are collecting the data for the UK sample.  The aim of the study is to investigate trait self-control in a cross- and the within- nation perspective, as well as the relationships between family-related variables, self-control, well-being and psychopathology. Our hypotheses are: (1) people from collectivistic culture or have higher collectivistic but lower individualistic cultural orientation have higher self-control than those from individualistic culture or have lower collectivistic but higher individualistic cultural orientation; and (2) the influences of family-related variables on well-being and psychopathology would be mediated by trait self-control.

Recent publications

Kirkham, J, A., Lloyd, J., & Stockton, H. (2018). Development and validation of the retrospective childhood fantasy play scale. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 0 (0), 1-30. 

Schepman,A., Kirkham, J. A., Rodway, P., Lambert, J., & Locke, A. (2018). Shared Meaning in Children’s Evaluations of Art: A Computational Analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. March 5,

Rodway, P., Kirkham, J., Schepman, A., Lambert, J & Locke, A. (2016). The development of shared liking of representational but not abstract art in primary school children and their justifications for liking. Frontiers in Human NeuroScience. 10 (21) doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00021

Murray, L.E., & O'Neill, L.P. (2018). Neuroticism and extraversion mediate the relationship between having a sibling with developmental disabilities and anxiety and depression symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 243, 232-240.DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.042

O'Neill, L.P., & Murray, L.E., (2016). Anxiety and depression symptomatology in adult siblings of individuals with different developmental disability diagnoses. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 51,116-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2015.12.017.

 O'Neill, L.P., & Murray, L.E., (2016). Perceived Parenting Styles Fail to Mediate Between Anxiety and Attachment Styles in Adult Siblings of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 3144 -3154. DOI:10.1007/s10803-016-2859-5

Ross, J., Yilmaz-Urquhart, M, Dale, R., Cassidy, R., Yildirirm, I., & Zeedyk, M.S. (2017).  Cultural differences in self-recognition:  the early development of autonomous and related selves?  Developmental Science, 20 (3). DOI: 10.1111/desc/12387.

O'Neill, L., & Murray, L. (2016). Anxiety and depression symptomatology in adult siblings of individuals with different developmental disability diagnoses. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 51-52, 116-125.

Hallam, J., Egan, S., & Kirkham, J. A. (2016). An investigation into the ways in which art is taught in an English Waldorf Steiner school. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 19, 136-145.

Schepman, A., Rodway, P., Pullen, S. J., & Kirkham, J. A. (2015) Shared liking and association valence for representational art but not abstract art. Journal of Vision, 15 (5), 1-10.

Nicholls, W., Hulbert-Williams, N. & Bramwell, R. (2014) The Role of Relationship Attachment in Psychological Adjustment to Cancer in Patients and Caregivers: A Systematic Review of the Literature.Psycho-Oncology, 23(10), 1083-1095. DOI: 10.1002/pon.3837

Boulton, M.J. (2014). Teachers' self-efficacy, perceived effectiveness beliefs, and reported use of cognitive-behavioral approaches to bullying among pupils: Effects of in-service training with the I DECIDE program. Behavior Therapy, 45, 328-343.

Boulton, M.J., Hardcastle, K., Down, J. Simmonds, J., & Fowles, J. A. (2014). A comparison of pre-service teachers’ responses to cyber versus traditional bullying scenarios: Similarities and differences and implications for practice. Journal of Teacher Education, 65, 145-155.

Boulton, M.J. (2014). High school pupils' understanding of peer counselling, and willingness to use it for different types of bullying. Pastoral Care in Education, 32, 95-103.

Mattison, M. L., Dando, C. J. & Ormerod, T. (2014).  Sketching to remember: episodic free recall task support for child witnesses and victims with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism, and Developmental Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2335-z

Powell, M. B., Bowden, P., & Mattison, M. L. (2014). Stakeholders’ perceptions of the benefit of introducing an Australian intermediary system for vulnerable witnesses, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. Manuscript accepted for publication on 28 May, 2014.

Powell, M. B., Mattison, M. L., & McVilly, K. (2013, June).  Guidelines for interviewing people with communication impairments.  Australian Police Journal, 58-63.

Kirkham, J. A., Stewart, A., & Kidd. E. (2013). Concurrent and longitudinal relationships between development in graphic, language and symbolic play domains from the fourth to the fifth year. Infant and Child Development, 22, 297-319.

Harper, B., Dickson, J.M. & Bramwell, R. (2013) Experiences of young people in a 16-18 Mental Health Service. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 19(2), 90-96. DOI:10.1111/camh.12024