As a child I was always theorizing about why people did things. “The reason that girl always brings the teacher presents,” I’d ponder, “Is so she doesn’t get in trouble for not finishing her homework.” I started studying psychology at the age of 15 and I was really excited because I didn’t need to ponder anymore – I could find out “the truth” about why people did things!
To me, the scientific method is the key to what makes psychology useful and powerful. Of course this includes a strong empirical approach and statistical rigour, but even more important is a sound theoretical grounding. I’m also somewhat preoccupied with the idea of parsimony – that is, the simplest model is usually the best.
Everyone has their own approach to research. What helps me to be productive is focusing on concrete outcomes (e.g. how many words did I write today?) and making sure I don’t get caught up in anxiety about whether my work is “good enough.”
My research is at the intersection of social and clinical psychology. I’m particularly interested in how our social relationships shape our mental and physical health. For example:
How can we make psychological therapy for mental illness more effective by incorporating social-psychological theories of social influence and group formation?
I am completely obsessed with documentaries and pride myself on being the ideal teammate for a game of trivia. The perfect documentary, in my opinion, must contain monkeys and David Attenborough.