Dr John Lambie

Reader in Psychology

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Psychology and Sport Science

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Applied, Social and Health Psychology

Research Supervision:Yes

John Lambie’s research focuses on emotion and reflective awareness, and he is interested in how being more reflectively aware helps us to cope with emotions and thus have greater well-being.

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John has investigated how emotional awareness and emotion regulation can improve well-being. Some of his work has been theoretical – outlining the ways in which people can be aware or unaware of their emotions. In studies with children, he has looked at how emotional validation by parents can increase children’s emotional awareness. This work, in collaboration with Skylark Learning, has led to an award-winning product to help with young children’s emotional development.

In work with adults, he has investigated how good emotional awareness may lead to better rational decision making, and has supervised a project looking at the effectiveness of compassion-focused therapy for individuals with traumatic brain injury. He has also written a book looking at open versus closed mindedness throughout history (see his TEDx talk on this here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaYNv5lkqck).

Research interests

  • Consciousness and emotion experience – theory and phenomenology
  • Coping with emotions – what are the most effective ways?
  • Emotional validation in families
  • Effects of parental brain injury on children
  • What psychological and social factors increase people’s emotional awareness?
  • Does emotional awareness increase rationality?
  • What factors affect open and closed-mindedness? How can we increase open-mindedness?
  • Open-mindedness in science and religion
  • Compassion and mindfulness
  • Psychological aspects of pain

John is a member of our Development and Lifespan Group which forms part of our ARU Centre for Mind and Behaviour.

Areas of research supervision

  • Factors affecting emotional awareness in children and adults
  • Parenting styles, particularly emotional validation and invalidation, and their effects
  • Emotion regulation styles and their effects on well being
  • Examples of PhDs supervised to completion (see below):
  • Lindberg, A. (PhD awarded, August 2013). Children’s emotional awareness: Its causes, consequences, and the specific role of parental emotional validation.
  • Maka, Z. (PhD awarded, June, 2011). Relational and emotional dynamics in methadone patients and their partners.
  • Ashworth, F. (ongoing PhD). Self-criticism and compassion-focused therapy after traumatic brain injury: A randomized controlled trial.
  • Mul, C. (ongoing PhD). Interoceptive sensitivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (second supervisor).

Find out more about our Psychology PhD.


John teaches on the modules Emotion, Psychological Therapies, and Lifespan Development.


  • PhD Psychology, University of Cambridge, 1997
  • BSc Psychology, University of Sheffield, 1991
  • Master Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (ongoing), British Psychological Society

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society.
  • Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society.
  • Editorial Boards: Psychology, Health & Medicine; Vulnerable Children & Youth Studies

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Worked with Skylark Learning to develop award-winning educational product to help young children with emotional development
  • Worked as a honorary CBT therapist with Broomfield Hospital
  • Talks to carers’ groups (eating disorders) about emotional communication skills
  • TEDx talk about open-mindedness

Selected recent publications

Rohleder, P., Lambie, J.A. & Hale, E. (2017). A qualitative study of the emotional coping and support needs of children living with a parent with a brain injury. Brain Injury, 31(2), 199-207.

Lambie, J.A. Fursland, R. & Potter, M. (2017). My First Emotions. Cambridge: Skylark Learning.

Lambie, J.A., & Lindberg, A. (2016). The role of maternal emotional validation and invalidation on children’s emotional awareness. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 62(2), 129-157.

Lambie, J.A. (2014). How to be critically open-minded: A psychological and historical analysis. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lambie, J.A. (2009). Emotion experience, rational action, and self-knowledge. Emotion Review, 1, 272-280.

Lambie, J.A. (2008). On the irrationality of emotion and the rationality of awareness. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(3), 946-971.

Lambie, J.A. & Marcel, A.J. (2002). Consciousness and emotion experience: A theoretical framework. Psychological Review, 109, 219-259.

Recent presentations and conferences

Lambie, J.A. (2017, May). Question everything: Critical open mindedness and reasonable doubt.  Paper presented at ReaDoubt: From Reasonable Doubt to Undue Scepticism. Birkbeck College, London.

Lambie, J.A. (2017, May). Question everything [Video file, TEDx]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaYNv5lkqck

Lambie, J.A. (2016, April). Are emotions feedback?. Paper presented at Lorentz Centre Workshop on Emotions as Feedback, Leiden University.

Lambie, J.A. (2015, June). How the world is experienced in emotion: Theories and implications of world-focused emotion experience. Paper presented at conference on Emotion Concepts in Use, Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf.

Lambie, J.A. (2014, October). Open-mindedness in science and religion. Public talk at Cambridge Festival of Ideas. 30 October 2014.

Lambie, J.A. (2013, October). The role of emotional validation in emotional awareness. Paper presented for Emotions: Nature, Recognition, Culture conference, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.

Lambie, J.A. (2011, July). Are psychopaths responsible? Paper presented at Character, Capacity, and Personality Workshop, Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics (CAVE) and the Agency & Moral Cognition Network, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Lambie, J.A. (2002, March). Keynote speaker. The first-person experience of emotion: What is it, and how can it be studied? Paper presented at Center for Consciousness Studies, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.

Media experience

Lambie, J.A. (21st September 2016). The toys that teach children to reveal what they’re feeling. Cambridge Independent newspaper.

Lambie, J.A. (12th August 2016).  Cambridge TV news, talking about the launch of the product “My First Emotions”, and the research underpinning it: http://www.cambridge-tv.co.uk/emotional-awareness/

Lambie, J.A. (15th December 2014). Cambridge Evening News, Putting off four difficult conversations. Response to survey that people put off having difficult conversations with partners and family members.

Lambie, J.A. (21st December 2012) Cambridge News, “Twas the nightmare before Christmas” – (How to avoid family stress at Christmas). p. 6.

Lambie, J.A. (23rd April 2007). Live on Radio Cambridgeshire discussing effects of TV on children’s development.

Lambie, J.A. (16th October 2007). Live on Radio Cambridgeshire discussing phobias and overcoming fear.