I am interested in studying the psychological response to climate change. Working with Professor Paul Chadwick and Dr Elizabeth Marks from the University of Bath, and Dr Catherine Butler from the University of Exeter, my PhD research is centred on awareness, acceptance, and engagement with climate change, as well as the emotions evoked by engaging with climate change. I am interested in how we experience “negative” emotions and experiences, such as uncertainty, fear, grief, guilt and blame and how we cope with this psychological burden. The role of “positive” experiences will also be studied, such as mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, community, hope and empathy and whether these have a bearing on our ability to continue to function and/or thrive emotionally, as well as engage in positive climate action. This research will draw on the second wave of positive psychology, which posits that embracing the entirety of our human experience – both pleasant and challenging – can lead to healing and transformation, and apply this to the climate change crisis.
There is promising evidence that mindfulness can help prevent the development of eating disorders by reducing factors that put people at higher risk, such as body dissatisfaction and negative emotionality. However, little is known about how mindfulness reduces these factors. My research will therefore explore potential processes through which mindfulness produces change in this context. This will involve measuring candidate processes, such as responding to oneself with compassion, and assessing the extent to which they are associated with decreases in risk factors following engagement in an online mindfulness-based intervention. Findings will support better understanding of mindfulness and what distinguishes it from other strategies, as well as improve existing and future mindfulness-based prevention of eating disorders by directly targeting key processes and removing ineffective elements. I will be working with Professor Paul Chadwick, director of the Bath Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion, and Dr Melissa Atkinson, lecturer in Applied Clinical Psychology.
My research explores the effects of mindfulness practice and physical activity on student mental health. In particular, I am interested in the benefits that arise from combining the two approaches over and above either method individually. My aim is to develop and evaluate a digital intervention in collaboration with the University’s Student Services, Department of Computer Science and the B&NES division of Public Health England. This new tool will be created through extensive consultation with its target audience, young adults. Their input will guide the initial design and their feedback upon testing it in a preliminary randomised controlled trial will inform later modifications. Through this work I hope to expand the understanding of how the effects of mindfulness practice can help people engage in physical activity more regularly, and how this impacts their psychological well-being. My project is supported by the ESRC SWDTP and supervised by Professor Paul Chadwick, Dr Ben Ainsworth and Dr Max Western from the University of Bath, and by Dr Olivia Maynard from the University of Bristol.