Social psychology

We examine the different ways people think, feel and behave in social settings, groups, and close relationships.

We have researchers involved in two major research areas: the Research on Emotions, Close Relationships and Health research group and the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.

Other social psychologists in the School explore similar and related questions from a range of different epistemological and methodological standpoints - see Critical, Culture and Community Psychology.

Research on Emotions, Close Relationships and Health (REACH)

Our research explores the link between close relationships and individuals’ health and wellbeing. We examine how couples and families can effectively support each other and resolve conflict. Our group seeks to identify the developmental and relational factors that influence these important processes, by studying topics such as biased perceptions, depressive symptoms, attachment insecurity, power and sexist attitudes.

Other areas of inquiry consider how couples maintain sexual satisfaction, differences in sex-related beliefs and implicit attitudes, and the response of people to sexual challenges in their relationship. We also consider the role of accurate perceptions in relationship functioning, and attachment insecurity in sexual wellbeing.

New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS)

This 20-year nationwide longitudinal study of more than 60,000 New Zealanders examines how people’s personalities, attitudes, values and health change over time. The NZAVS is unique to New Zealand and provides the foundation for a diverse range of social psychological research.

We investigate the causes and consequences of inequality, including racism, sexism, and political ideology. Our research asks why people do (and don’t) protest and aims to uncover what makes people undermine their self-interest. We seek to understand how we can create a fair and equitable society.

Our research also covers a large range of other areas related to the NZAVS. These include topics such as health outcome predictions, psychological wellbeing, personality change over time, changes to authoritarianism, sexism, and racism, and the effect of social media exposure on body image.

Related websites

Our researchers