The Societies research area within the ARU Centre for Societies and Groups (ARU-CSG) is an interdisciplinary group that leads research and debate on community change, public policy, and psychological well-being in societal contexts.
Topics currently being researched by members of the group include gendered issues in advertising, determinants of food choice, victimisation and injustice, driving behaviour, and the development of resilience, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our work illuminates and challenges social behaviour to benefit local, national, and international communities, and influences public policy.
Towards Gender Harmony is a three-year cross-cultural project investigating a potential key barrier to gender equality progress globally: masculinity threat. The ambition of the project is to collect data from at least 40 countries and updates our knowledge on contemporary cross-national understanding of femininity, masculinity, gender stereotypes, attitudes and related behaviours as they link to gender (in)equality.
The project is worth £136k awarded by the Polish National Science Centre, and Dr Magdalena Zawisza is a co-applicant together with Dr Natasza Kosakowska (principal investigator, University of Gdansk, Poland), Prof Joseph Vandello and Prof Jennifer Bosson (University of South Florida, USA) and a team of six researchers.
This interdisciplinary project applies expertise from cognitive psychology (Dr David Pearson, lead) and consumer psychology (Dr Magdalena Zawisza) together with built environment (Dr Fred Sherratt) research to understand and improve health and safety practices across different structures in a road maintenance company.
It is conducted in partnership with Ringway Jacobs, a large highway service provider, and it worth £194,375, including a 50% grant from Innovate UK.
Two of our members, Dr Nicola Gibson (lead) and Sarah Gradidge, are investigating links between viewing playfulness in pet animals and greater wellbeing and reduced anxiety regarding COVID-19. Links between pets' playfulness and wellbeing have not yet been explored, nor has this relationship been investigated in the context of a global pandemic.
Collaborating cross-disciplinarily with an animal behaviourist (Dr Claudia Wascher) and across institutions with a psychologist from the University of Edinburgh (Dr Steve Loughnan), the researchers foresee positive implications of this project for reducing loneliness and improving wellbeing both during and after COVID-19, especially among people who live only with pets.