Family, Infant and Child Psychology Research Group

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: Ros Bramwell, Professor

Mike Boulton, Professor

Julie Kirkham, Lecturer

Julian Lloyd, Senior Lecturer

Michelle Mattison, Lecturer

Linda O’Neill, Senior Lecturer

Mandy Yilmaz, Senior Lecturer

Hedda Marx, PhD student


Some of our current projects

Investigating the effects of a cross-age teaching programme on school students’ anti-bullying beliefs and behaviours (PI: Mike Boulton). Bullying represents a considerable problem for many school students not least because of its negative effects on well-being and academic progress. Anti-bullying interventions, while having various degrees of success, often fail to directly involve students themselves. This project is focused on a novel approach to tackling bullying that has students at its heart. It involves groups of older students (tutors) working in small collaborative groups to design their own anti-bullying lessons that they deliver to small groups of younger students (tutees). Evaluations have shown that both tutors and tutees can be helped to develop anti-bullying beliefs that mitigate their involvement in actual bully behaviour. This work has also shown that the intervention is well-received by students. Moving forward, the project is seeking to identify the mechanisms that account for these positive effects.

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 Yilmaz). 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

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