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Dr Emily Hughes

Dr Emily Hughes

Postdoctoral Research Associate

 Washington Singer WSL 210


Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK


I am a Social Psychologist, Lecturer, and Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Exeter. As part of this role, I teach various modules and supervise students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. 


PhD – Psychology; University of Exeter (ESRC SWDTP)

MSc – Social and Organisational Psychology; University of Exeter

BSc – Psychology; University of Exeter 


  • Above and Beyond Award for Excellence (University of Exeter)
  • Deans Commendation for Exceptional Performance on the MSc Programme (University of Exeter)
  • Deans Commendation for Exceptional Performance on the BSc Programme (University of Exeter)
  • The BPS Award for Outstanding Performance on the BSc Programme (British Psychological Society)
  • Outstanding Subject Chair (VP Education Awards; University of Exeter)

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Research interests

My interests lie at the intersection of social-psychological research on identity, group processes, cognition, and methodology. My primary research focuses on the ways in which social identity and group membership influences the way that we think, feel, and act, in relation to ourselves and in relation to other people.

I am also a collaborator on various education facing projects, including examining the efficacy of digital learning analytics interventions for student well-being and attainment. In 2020, I undertook a secondment at the Department for Education as a Research & Data Analyst investigating the influence of psychosocial factors (e.g., self efficacy, percieved behavioural control) on GCSE attainment. This research used the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE2)—a dataset following the lives of over 13,000 young people from the age of 13/14 to 21/22. I'm particularly interested in statistical modelling, and the analysis of longitudinal panel data. 

My current research interests can be divided in to the following themes:

SIMBA: A social identity model of behavioural associations

This research examines the interrelations among social identity, group norms, and individual-level behaviour. We propose, and are testing, a novel theoretical model that explains the emergence, maintenance, and change of group-based behaviour via processes of associative learning. To date, the utility of the model has been established for the measurement of drinking behaviour and preventative health behaviours (e.g., social distancing during the pandemic), and also for encouraging the performance of novel behaviours. This work is supported by a studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC; 2017) and a grant from the Leverhulme Trust (2022).

Using network analytic methods to map relations among social identities

Following on from my work on social identity and identity-infused behaviour, this research applies network analytic methods to bring us closer to answering the following questions: which identities are found, statistically, to co-occur significantly more than others across individuals? How are different identities structurally organised within the population? Do identities form meaningful sub-groups (i.e., modular clusters), or is there a high level of interconnectivity among identities? Which identities are linked through the performance of normative behaviour? Are some identities more compatible than others, and does identity complexity/compatibility have implications for well-being?

Research keywords

  • Social identity
  • Group norms
  • Behaviour change
  • Health and well-being
  • Associative learning
  • Network analysis

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Journal articles

Sonderlund A, Hughes E, Smith JR (In Press). The efficacy of learning analytics interventions in higher education: a systematic review. British Journal of Educational Technology
Hughes EA, Ellis S, Smith JR (2024). Connecting groups and behaviours: a network analysis of identity-infused behaviours. Br J Soc Psychol, 63(1), 205-233. Abstract.  Author URL.
Boulton CA, Hughes E, Kent C, Smith JR, Williams HTP (2019). Student engagement and wellbeing over time at a higher education institution. PLoS One, 14(11). Abstract.  Author URL.

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Office Hours:

Term 3 (2023-24)

Mondays 09:00 - 10:00, Wednesdays 12:00 - 13:00 (online)

My office hours are bookable in advance here

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