Jenny Paterson

Senior Lecturer

Research interests

Jenny’s research draws on various social psychological theories, including intergroup contact theory, social identity theory, and intergroup emotions theory, to examine two distinct but often complementary themes: love and hate.

Researching love

Building upon her PhD, which examined the interpersonal and intergroup consequences of cross-group romantic relationships (2009-2013), Jenny examines perceptions and consequences of cross-group romantic relationships. Although these relationships are often overlooked in the intergroup relations literature, research into their formation and consequences are crucial because these unique relationships can both transgress and potentially transform group boundaries.

Through this avenue of research Jenny has shown that interracial romantic relationships are perceived more negatively than same-race relationships, but having extended contact with interracial couples can reduce prejudice in others (Paterson, Turner, & Conner, 2015, JASP). In addition, she has shown that intergroup contact between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland not only improves general intergroup attitudes, it also increases participants own receptivity towards intergroup dating (Paterson, Turner, & Hodson, 2019, JASP).

Continuing with this research theme, Jenny plans to investigate who, when, and why people form cross-group and same-race romantic relationships. Importantly, she seeks to further explore both the interpersonal and the intergroup consequences of these relationships, for example, do cross-group couples experience more disapproval of their relationship than same-group couples? If so, does that impact on their relationship satisfaction? Does it influence on their own intergroup attitudes? Jenny also aims to examine how children of these relationships are perceived and how they may transform group categorisations which may, in turn, influence intergroup attitudes even further.

Researching hate

Following her Research Fellowship on the Sussex Hate Crime Project, Jenny is particularly interested in understanding and alleviating the 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), and are relatively long lasting (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2019, PSPB).

Within this research, Jenny is passionate about using her research to inform policies and practices, as well as raising awareness of the impacts of hate crimes. To this end, she has worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service which drew upon her research to inform its policy of using community impact statements for the prosecution of hate crime cases. She has also submitted her research to numerous Parliamentary enquiries and her research was widely cited in the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Report on Hate Crime. This research also attracted wide media attention, including an article in the Metro, a national newspaper, and an article on the front page of the BBC website which has attracted more than 200,000 visits.

Jenny aims to further explore the impacts of hate crime, including investigating the roles of identity, empathy and victim blaming. She also plans on continuing to work with legal professionals and practitioners to better understand the role that restorative justice could play in addressing the harms of hate.



Research Student Supervision Interests

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

Organisational affiliations

Education/Academic qualification

  • PhD, Psychology, University of Leeds

    1 Oct 2009 - 1 Mar 2013
  • MA, Psychology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

    1 Sep 2006 - 1 May 2008
  • Psychology, Berry College

    1 Sep 2002 - 1 May 2006