Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Jenny welcomes applications from potential PhD students, especially those interested in intergroup relations, prejudice reduction, hate crimes, and intergroup romantic relationships.

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Personal profile

Biography

Jenny is an applied social psychologist with a specific interest in understanding and alleviating the intergroup and interpersonal impacts of prejudice in a wide range of domains.

Funded by external (e.g., the British Academy) and internal grants, she has published widely in high quality Psychology, Criminology, and interdisciplinary journals, and her work has been publicised and read by millions of people in the mainstream media (e.g., BBC, Mail Online, Metro, The Conversation). Her research also has important real-world implications and has helped shape national policy by underpinning the introduction of Community impact Statements for Hate Crime by the Crown Prosecution Service and was widely cited in the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Report on Hate Crime.

Jenny values interdisciplinary and international collaborations and has worked with colleagues across numerous disciplines, including Midwifery, Law, Sociology, Computer Science, Criminology, Campus Services, and across countries, including Canada, Northern Ireland, the US, and Poland. In applying her research, Jenny has been fortunate to work with a range of institutions and charities, including the Crown Prosecution Service, the Home Office, the NHS, Metropolitan Police, Sussex Police, Stonewall, Muslim Council of Britain, and Galop. She is also currently a member of the International Network of Hate Studies, the European Association of Social Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the Identification With All Humanity Lab. You can follow her on Twitter @DrJennyPaterson.

Background

Jenny received her BSc in Psychology from Berry College, Georgia, USA, graduating summa cum laude (4.0/4.0 GPA). She gained her Masters in Social Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa under the supervision of Prof. Elaine Hatfield, before returning to the UK to become a Research Assistant to Prof. Rhiannon Turner and Prof. Richard Crisp at the University of Leeds (2008-2009). Following this appointment, Jenny was awarded a prestigious University Research Scholarship to complete her PhD at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Prof. Rhiannon Turner and Prof. Mark Conner (2009-2013). Becoming a Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, Jenny worked alongside Prof. Rupert Brown and Prof. Mark Walters on the Sussex Hate Crime Project (2013-2018). Jenny was appointed Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Teesside University (2018-2019), before moving to Northumbria as a Senior Lecturer (now Assistant Professor) in Psychology in July 2019.

Research interests

Jenny’s research draws on various social psychological theories, including intergroup contact theory, social identity theory, and intergroup emotions theory, to examine the causes and consequences of prejudice to inform real life interventions to reduce the harms of hate and intolerance. As prejudice permeates every facet of society, Jenny has researched many forms of prejudice but, for simplicity, her research can be broadly described as examining two distinct but often complementary themes: prejudice towards love and the impacts of hate.

Prejudice towards love

Jenny has investigated prejudice towards a range of romantic relationship choices, including interracial dating in the UK (Paterson, Turner, & Conner, 2015, JASP) and inter-religious dating in Northern Ireland (Paterson, Turner, & Hodson, 2019, JASP). Capitalising on the media frenzy around Prince Harry and Meghan’s interracial relationship, Jenny and her colleagues have also examined how high-profile interracial relationships can impact people’s attitudes and receptivity to dating, marrying, and having children with racial outgroup members (Paterson, Hodson, & Turner, 2023, JASP). This aspect of her research is intended to draw attention to, and better understand, when and why people are prejudiced towards others’ romantic choices. Such an understanding will help develop interventions to reduce this prejudice, thereby empowering people to make their own relationship choices, free from prejudicial social pressure.

 Impacts of hate

Working with colleagues from the Sussex Hate Crime Project, Jenny has published extensively on the indirect impacts of hate crime. Through this research she has shown that hate crimes not only disproportionately impact victims directly involved in the crimes, such incidents send messages of intolerance throughout entire communities (Walters, Paterson, Brown, & McDonnell, 2017, JIV). These effects are felt more acutely than comparable non-hate crimes (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2019, BJSP), affect all sections of diverse communities (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2018, TPM; Walters, Paterson, McDonnell, & Brown, 2019, IRV), are relatively long lasting (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2019, PSPB), and impact individuals’ support for restorative justice (Walters, Paterson, & Brown, 2020, BJC). Furthermore, leading a British Academy funded project involving Prof Mark Walters (Sussex) and Lisa Hall (Northumbria), Jenny has shown that LGBT+ people provide overwhelming empathy and help to victims of anti-LGBT+ crimes because of their shared ingroup identities (Paterson, Walters, & Hall, 2023, JIV). This body of research has helped underpin the introduction of victims impact statements for hate crimes (CPS) and was widely cited in the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Report on Hate Crime, as well as the Law Commission's Review in to Hate Crime legislation.

Additional themes

Due to the prevalence of prejudice, Jenny has been invited onto a range of diverse projects to tackle prejudice in many different areas. For example, she has worked with midwives to develop proposals to reduce prejudice towards LGBT+ parents within the NHS; with computer scientists to reduce online hate; and Campus Services to increase reporting of hate crime on campus. Working with Dr Daniel Jolley, Jenny has also examined the role of conspiracy beliefs in predicting violence during Covid (Jolley & Paterson, 2020, BJSP), its role in predicting non-normative political action (e.g., tax avoidance; Jolley, Paterson, & Thomas, 2023), and its impacts on targeted groups (Jolley, Paterson, & McNeill 2023).

Current projects and future plans

Jenny continues to work on the themes outlined above, including researching attitudes and receptivity to a range of marginalised relationships (e.g., interracial, interreligious, LGBT+ relationships), while also examining and alleviating the harms of different manifestations of prejudice (e.g., hate crimes, conspiracy beliefs).

Expanding on and combining these themes, Jenny is developing a research programme to examine prejudice towards single people (known as singlism). The research intends to examine why this often-overlooked form of prejudice occurs (e.g., ideologies about couples), what it looks like (e.g., from microaggressions to legal discrimination), the impacts of the prejudice (e.g., psychological, financial), how to tackle it (e.g., increasing empathy, changing norms), and how to support those who are targeted (e.g., raising awareness, developing a positive, protective group identity).

If you are interested in working with Jenny on any of the themes outlined above, please contact her at jenny.paterson@northumbria.ac.uk.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Psychology, PhD, University of Leeds

1 Oct 20091 Mar 2013

Award Date: 1 Mar 2013

Psychology, MA, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

1 Sept 20061 May 2008

Award Date: 1 May 2008

Psychology, Berry College

1 Sept 20021 May 2006

Award Date: 1 May 2006

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