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Inequality, Diversity & Social Inclusion

Tackling inequality is one humanity’s greatest challenges. Because many inequalities stem from human behaviour, psychology is at the heart of understanding and addressing its causes. 



A genuine commitment to tackling inequality and promoting diversity and social inclusion is pivotal to the philosophy underpinning research in the School.

There are several areas of focus within this theme. It is of note however, that running through each of these themes is the broader concept of health inequalities, especially those relating to the psychological lived experience and health outcomes.

Male psychology: Research in this area focuses on men’s mental health and male victims of intimate partner violence. Staff working in this area are actively involved in the new Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society and our work is aligned to the Section’s aims. Research on male psychology also informs our curriculum, with the development of the world’s first male psychology module here at the University of Sunderland.

Gender and STEM: Research examines the differing barriers facing males and females in the disciplines of psychology and engineering. This work is linked to our focus on male psychology and to our Athena Swan Gender Equality Charter action plan.

Neurodiversity: Researchers working in this area focus on the experience of neurodivergent people within their social world. Research examines how autistic adults conceptualise intimate violence and abuse, autistic masking and stigma, and experiences of autism diagnosis. This research has informed the development of a module in Development and Neurodiversity.

Sexual assault victims and vulnerable adults in the Criminal Justice System: Research examines how the police force and other organisations conduct interviews with vulnerable adults. This research has influenced protocols for interviewing online. We also investigate effective frameworks for police investigators who interview victims of sexual assault, and the impact of investigative interviews on victims.

Gender, sexuality and relationship diversity (GSRD): Research examines motivations for engaging in BDSM, evolutionary approaches to mate preferences, mate choice and mating strategies, and the experiences of women who identify as sexually non-exclusive, including stigma associated with these constructs. More recent research which is currently underway explores the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had upon interpersonal relationships. Some of the work taking place in these areas is aligned with commitments of the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Sexualities section, with one member of staff sitting on the Section’s committee.

Our public health research focuses on improving health outcomes and tackling health inequalities for specific groups of people. For example, we have research focused on encouraging the uptake of cancer screening, particularly for ethnic minorities. We're working with Muslim women to improve outcomes in breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening. In addition, we have public health research funded by NIHR ARC that focuses on interventions tackling health inequalities in young people's mental wellbeing.