People and partners
The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness includes a diverse group of researchers from multiple disciplines across the Sussex campus, and it has strong links with external organisations and institutions.
Prof Robin Banerjee
Robin is a Professor of Developmental Psychology and the founder of the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness. Robin’s research looks into children’s social and emotional functioning. He works closely with practitioners and policy makers in the areas of education and mental health. His research focusses on children’s peer relationships, and more recently also on kindness in adolescence. He is interested in how kindness manifests across different contexts, including education, public policy, healthcare, and social services. Read Robin’s thoughts on kindness in the CRESS Research Lab blog.
Dr Gillian Sandstrom
Gillian is a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Kindness and the director of the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness. Gillian's research examines the barriers that prevent people from connecting. Her research has focused especially on the fears that make people worry about talking to strangers, which she views as an act of kindness.
Claudia Hammond is a visiting Professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Sussex. An award-winning broadcaster and author, she is the presenter of All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4 and The Evidence and Health Check on the BBC World Service. Her focus is on finding the best ways to communicate scientific evidence, whether through the media, books or public events. She has also pioneered the involvement of the public in large scale studies in collaboration with the media. On the BBC she launched the Rest Test, the BBC Loneliness Experiment, The Touch Test and in 2021, The Kindness Test, created by the team at the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness. Claudia's books on psychology include The Art of Rest. Her newest book, The Keys to Kindness is published in October 2022.
Prof Michelle Lefevre
Michelle is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex. Michelle’s research includes child protection, child wellbeing, and communication. She is interested in where kindness might fit into the relationships that professionals build with vulnerable or at-risk children and young people. These children have often had many negative experiences in their lives that have eroded their trust in others, and they are less likely to engage with professional support and intervention.
Prof Janet Boddy
Janet is a Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Sussex. Janet's research is concerned with family lives and with services for children and families, in the UK and internationally. She has recently conducted research that examines the moral narratives and identity positions associated with environmental responsibility.
Prof Jo Moran-Ellis
Jo is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Sussex. Jo's research currently focusses on questions of theorising agency and social actorship in childhood, with a particular interest in early childhood.
Prof Pete Harris
Peter is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology and helps lead the university’s Self-Affirmation Research Group. His research centres on how people cope with information and events that threaten the self. In one strand of his research, he has been exploring how self-affirmation helps us both understand and change how people respond to information they would prefer to ignore or reject. (Self-affirmation involves thinking about or acting in terms of one’s cherished values, attributes or social relationships.) One way in which self-affirmation is sometimes induced is by encouraging people to reflect upon their recent acts of kindness
Dr Duncan Shrewsbury
Duncan is a GP and Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Duncan's research background is largely in medical education, but extends to mental health, practitioner wellbeing and workforce issues. He is particularly interested in exploring the experience of kindness and compassion in healthcare practitioners.
Dr Synne Dyvik
Synne is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations. Her research is situated within feminist and gender theory, critical war studies, and critical military studies. She focusses on the embodiment of international relations, particularly through militarism, violence and warfare, and the relationship between bodies, gender and war. She has researched the relationship between embodiment, narrative, and gender in counter-insurgency warfare.
Dr Emma Russell
Emma is a Senior Lecturer (Management) in the Business School, and also a Registered and Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Her research is concerned with understanding how well-being, personality and goal-striving impact (and are impacted by) people’s work-email activity. Emma is interested in understanding how kindness manifests in people’s digital communications - such as email - at work. We know that email incivility can negatively impact well-being and work performance, but Emma is interested in understanding why people do or do not demonstrate kindness in their communications with others, and the extent to which this can be explained by considering personality, availability of resources, and the goals that people prioritise at any one time.
Dr Zahira Jaser
Zahira is a Lecturer (Management) in the Business School. Her research focuses on multilevel relationships at work. She conducts long qualitative, ethnographic studies, investigating how individuals and teams are affected by the tensions that develop when different, even contrasting interests clash in organisations. From this perspective she has studied tensions surrounding authenticity during a programme of redundancies in a large bank; exploring how authenticity manifests itself when the need for secrecy prevails. In a separate study she has studied tensions surrounding the need for transparency in communications between top managers and lower employees, and the need to respect hierarchical reporting. Zahira's concerns with kindness follow a similar inquiry line. She intends to explore how kindness happens in organisational systems dominated by hard formal processes - characterised by performance-measurement, regulatory-scrutiny, hierarchical-rules, confidentiality of information.
Dr Anne-Meike Fechter
Anne-Meike is a Reader in Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Anne-Meike’s research aims to illuminate how processes of migration and mobility transform and are shaped by, human actors. Her most recent project, based on research funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is concerned with 'Citizen Aid'. This broadly refers to small-scale initiatives set up by individuals and aimed at supporting others; essentially, ordinary people setting up their own development projects. Read more about Anne-Meike's Citizen Aid research project.
Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn
Daniel is the chief investigator of The Social Decision Lab. He develops new neural and cognitive models of socially inspired decisions, social influence and decisions with uncertainty. This includes social influences on decision-making, as well as prosocial and antisocial decisions. His work uses innovative tasks and analysis, behavioural testing, neuroimaging, computational modelling and psychopharmacology. This research can be applied to social and politically identified problems.
Dr Tom Farsides
Tom is a lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Sussex. His research explores the factors that facilitate or inhibit positive other-regard, including activism, altruism, campaigning, charity, citizenship, consideration, courtesy, donating (e.g., blood, organs), helping, prejudice-reduction, volunteering, and a variety of other prosocial behaviours. Important facilitators include a sense of caring, duty, empathy, and responsibility. Important inhibitors include moral myopia (short-sightedness) and selfishness.
Dr Rona Hart
Rona is a lecturer in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Sussex, and the course convenor of the new online distance learning PGCert course "The Psychology of Kindness and Wellbeing at Work." The course is a collaborative venture between the School of Psychology, the Sussex Business School and Pearson Education LTD.
Rona specialises in Positive Organisational Psychology and is particularly interested in manifestations of kindness and prosocial behaviours at work, career-calling orientation, and self-transcendence, and how these impinge on occupational wellbeing, performance and commitment, meaning of work, and professional identity.
Dr Gemma Houldey
Gemma Houldey recently completed her PhD in International Development at Sussex Global Studies, where she investigated stress among national and international aid workers in Kenya. She has also worked for a number of NGOs on humanitarian and human rights programmes, mainly in East Africa and the Middle East. Gemma has a particular interest in how the white saviour complex dominates aid discourse and practice, and the implications this has for assumptions of kindness and altruism among national and international staff. She is now using her research and her training in mindfulness and yoga, to develop wellbeing strategies for both aid workers and doctoral researchers at Sussex Global Studies.
Dr Jo Cutler is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham in the Social Decision Neuroscience Lab. Jo's research focuses on social decision making. She is interested in questions like why are people kind? Which situations make people more altruistic? How do these decisions change across the lifespan? Jo's PhD research at the University of Sussex with Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn examined the neuroscience of charitable giving and how people value the lives of others.
As well as the core members within the university, The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness also has a growing community of associates who can join our mailing list and are very welcome to participate in our events and research. If you are interested in joining the The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness mailing list, please contact email@example.com
We also have a number of doctoral student associates who have been awarded the Kindness UK Doctoral Conference Award. Find out more about our doctoral award scheme.