Dr Nicola Gibson

Lecturer in Positive Psychology

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Psychology and Sport Science

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Societies and Groups

Research Supervision:Yes

Nicola is a Positive Psychologist interested in Applied Psychology, particularly personal strengths, wellbeing, resilience, and coping as individual differences that influence positive destinations and outcomes for young people.



Nicola joined ARU in May 2017. She worked in mental health (Penumbra Self Harm Project) and youth work (Aberdeen City Council) in Aberdeen for ten years prior to commencing her PhD at Aberdeen University in 2011. Her PhD research focused on the influence of positive psychological strengths and non-intellectual abilities on successful learning and academic attainment in adolescents across two schools in Aberdeen. She was also a teaching assistant and tutor at Aberdeen University between 2011 and 2015.

Her research interests focus on applied positive psychology, particularly personal strengths, wellbeing, affect, pro-sociality, resilience, and coping as individual differences that develop over time, and factors that influence success and positive destinations, especially in children and young people. She is also interested in the extent to which these skills and behaviours can prevent and or ameliorate the impact of stress, trauma, and risk of mental health issues.

Research interests

  • Positive psychology
  • Psychological strengths
  • Resilience
  • Individual differences
  • Coping
  • Learning and education
  • Emotion and cognition
  • Pro-sociality
  • Wellbeing
  • Empathy
  • Altruism
  • Morals and ethics

Areas of research supervision

Nicola has no current PhD students but would welcome research applications in the following areas:

  • Positive psychology
  • Psychological strengths
  • Resilience
  • Coping
  • Pro-sociality

Especially as related to successful learning / engagement with education (formal and informal), and the prevention/mitigation of stress, trauma, and risk of mental health issues.


Becoming a Researcher (undergraduate module); Research Methods for Psychology (undergraduate module)


  • PhD Psychology, University of Aberdeen (UK)
  • PgDip Psychology, University of Aberdeen
  • BSc Hons Psychology, University of Aberdeen

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Consultant on “myappa” project (resilience assessment app) November 2016–present
  • Data Analyst / Consultant, ChildLine, Wales (voluntary) June 2016–August 2016
  • Data Analyst / Consultant, Arbitration Law Project, Aberdeen University April 2015

Selected recent publications

Under review

Gibson, N.H., Hosie, J. and Pearson, D.G. (under review). Psychometric Validation of the SAI-Y in a UK Adolescent Population. Personality and Individual Differences.

Gibson, N.H., Hosie, J. and Pearson, D.G. (under review). Relationships between Teacher Assessments and Exam Results. British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Recent presentations and conferences


Gibson, N.H., Pearson, D.G. and Hosie, J.A., 2013. Strengths and success in Students. International Positive Psychology Association World Congress, Los Angeles, United States, 27-30 June 2013.


Gibson, N.H. Strengths in Education: a longitudinal study of strengths and academic attainment in the UK. BPS Developmental Conference, Amsterdam, 3-5 September 2014.

Gibson, N.H. Non-Intellectual Influences on Success. Character, Culture and Values Conference, Character Scotland, University of Glasgow, 15 and 16 June, 2015.

Media experience

  • Broadcast radio interviews discussing character strengths and their relevance to education for: BBC Radio Aberdeen, Northsound, Good Morning Scotland and Original FM; also local Press and Journal article; Monday 28 April 2014.
  • Cafe Scientifique Talk (Public engagement with science, 16 July 2014).
  • Short article on Aberdeen University news page