I am a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and joined MMU in November 2019 after holding previous positions at Staffordshire University and the University of Bradford.
A lot of my research and teaching focuses on understanding the psychological aspects of mental health, particularly the psychological factors and processes which are implicated in various mental health experiences. Understanding what happens at the individual level in terms of mental health is important to understand why some people experience difficulties with their mental health, the factors which worsen or improve our mental wellbeing, and how we can develop appropriately targetted interventions to bolster wellbeing. Psychological approaches to mental health allow an understanding of what is happening at the individual-level beyond more broader risk factors which tend to be more at the group-level (which may tell us which groups of individuals could be at higher or lower risk of poor mental health, but not necessarily the processes or pathways involved).
I contribute to a range of UG units including:
I contribute to the following unit on the PG Wellbeing pathway:
I am an External Examiner at the University of Bath for their Undergraduate Psychology Programme.
My research interests lie across Clinical and Health Psychology. I am broadly interested in how an individual’s perception of their social environment influences their psychological wellbeing and the engagement in a variety of health-related behaviours. My work tends to fall into one of three 'workstreams' (see below), however, I also conduct other studies relating to Health Psychology, Mental Health, and Student Wellbeing more broadly.
1. High and Variable Mood
I am interested in understanding the role of psychological factors in people’s experience of high and variable mood. My interests spans the spectrum of high and variable mood, including understanding people’s experiences of living with a bipolar disorder diagnosis, the factors associated with more variable mood, and the factors associated with a behavioural risk for bipolar.
2. The Psychology of Suicidality
I am broadly interested in understanding the psychological pathways to suicidality (i.e. the experience of suicidal ideation and engagement in suicidal behaviours). Current work in this area includes studies into the eusocial nature of suicide, understanding the experiences of suicidality when living with a bipolar diagnosis, and men's experiences of suicidality.
3. The Social Norms Approach
My work aims to understand and evaluate the psychological mechanisms underpinning the Social Norms Approach (i.e. 'misperceptions' of perceived social norms) and how interventions based on correcting such misestimates of the frequency and acceptability of behaviours can be effectively delivered. This includes work on physical and mental health-related behaviours
M. Hughes, AE. Burton, RC. Dempsey (2019). ‘I am free in my wheelchair but pain does have a say in it though’: The meaning and experience of quality of life when living with paraplegia and chronic pain. Journal of Health Psychology. 24(10), pp.1356-1367.
S. Calvert, RC. Dempsey, R. Povey (2019). Delivering in‐school interventions to improve dietary behaviours amongst 11‐ to 16‐year‐olds: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 20(4), pp.543-553.
RC. Dempsey, J. McAlaney, BM. Bewick (2018). A Critical Appraisal of the Social Norms Approach as an Interventional Strategy for Health-Related Behavior and Attitude Change. Frontiers in Psychology. 9,
G. Lehne, H. Zeeb, CR. Pischke, R. Mikolajczyk, BM. Bewick, et al. (2018). Personal and perceived peer use and attitudes towards use of non-prescribed prescription sedatives and sleeping pills among university students in seven European countries. Addictive Behaviors. 87, pp.17-23.
R. Owen, R. Dempsey, S. Jones, P. Gooding (2018). Defeat and Entrapment in Bipolar Disorder: Exploring the Relationship with Suicidal Ideation from a Psychological Theoretical Perspective. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 48(1), pp.116-128.
S. Calvert, RC. Dempsey, R. Povey A qualitative study investigating food choices and perceived psychosocial influences on eating behaviours in secondary school students. British Food Journal.
R. Owen, P. Gooding, R. Dempsey, S. Jones (2017). The Reciprocal Relationship between Bipolar Disorder and Social Interaction: A Qualitative Investigation. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. 24(4), pp.911-918.
RC. Dempsey, PA. Gooding, SH. Jones (2017). A prospective study of bipolar disorder vulnerability in relation to behavioural activation, behavioural inhibition and dysregulation of the Behavioural Activation System. Eur Psychiatry. 44, pp.24-29.
A. Burton, M. Hughes, RC. Dempsey (2017). Quality of life research: a case for combining photo-elicitation with interpretative phenomenological analysis. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 14(4), pp.375-393.
R. Owen, P. Gooding, R. Dempsey, S. Jones (2016). The Experience of Participation in Suicide Research from the Perspective of Individuals with Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 204(11), pp.840-844.
SM. Helmer, CR. Pischke, G. Van Hal, B. Vriesacker, RC. Dempsey, et al. (2016). Personal and perceived peer use and attitudes towards the use of nonmedical prescription stimulants to improve academic performance among university students in seven European countries. Drug Alcohol Depend. 168, pp.128-134.
RC. Dempsey, J. McAlaney, SM. Helmer, CR. Pischke, Y. Akvardar, et al. (2016). Normative Perceptions of Cannabis Use Among European University Students: Associations of Perceived Peer Use and Peer Attitudes With Personal Use and Attitudes. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 77(5), pp.740-748.
CR. Pischke, SM. Helmer, J. McAlaney, BM. Bewick, B. Vriesacker, et al. (2015). Normative misperceptions of tobacco use among university students in seven European countries: baseline findings of the 'Social Norms Intervention for the prevention of Polydrug usE' study. Addict Behav. 51, pp.158-164.
J. McAlaney, SM. Helmer, C. Stock, B. Vriesacker, G. Van Hal, et al. (2015). Personal and Perceived Peer Use of and Attitudes Toward Alcohol Among University and College Students in Seven EU Countries: Project SNIPE. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 76(3), pp.430-438.
R. Owen, P. Gooding, R. Dempsey, S. Jones (2015). A qualitative investigation into the relationships between social factors and suicidal thoughts and acts experienced by people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. J Affect Disord. 176, pp.133-140.
SM. Helmer, RT. Mikolajczyk, J. McAlaney, B. Vriesacker, G. Van Hal, et al. (2014). Illicit substance use among university students from seven European countries: a comparison of personal and perceived peer use and attitudes towards illicit substance use. Prev Med. 67, pp.204-209.
S. Jones, R. Calam, M. Sanders, PJ. Diggle, R. Dempsey, et al. (2014). A pilot Web based positive parenting intervention to help bipolar parents to improve perceived parenting skills and child outcomes. Behav Cogn Psychother. 42(3), pp.283-296.
RC. Dempsey, PA. Gooding, SH. Jones (2014). Assessing the specificity of autobiographical memory in individuals at a trait-based vulnerability to bipolar disorder using a sentence completion task. Memory. 22(3), pp.222-231.
R. Calam, S. Jones, MR. Sanders, R. Dempsey, V. Sadhnani (2012). Parenting and the emotional and behavioural adjustment of young children in families with a parent with bipolar disorder. Behav Cogn Psychother. 40(4), pp.425-437.
RC. Dempsey, PA. Gooding, SH. Jones (2011). Positive and negative cognitive style correlates of the vulnerability to hypomania. J Clin Psychol. 67(7), pp.673-690.
AL. Dodd, L. Robinson, K. Wright, C. Steel, N. Byrom, et al. Pathways to Mania Risk in Young Adults: Investigating Concurrent and Prospective Associations with Affective Lability and Emotion Regulation. Berlin, Germany, 18/7/2019.
C. Pischke, S. Helmer, J. McAlaney, BM. Bewick, Y. Akvardar, et al. (2016). Injunctive norms regarding cognitive enhancing prescription drug use among European students. In: Annals of Behavioral Medicine. San Antonio, Texas, USA, 22/4/2015. pp.S256-S256.
CR. Pischke, SM. Helmer, G. Van Hal, B. Vriesacker, R. Dempsey, et al. (2014). Personal and Perceived Peer Use of Tobacco Among University Students in Seven European Countries. In: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands, 21/8/2014. pp.S7-S7.
I am a reviewer for a number of international journals relating to Mental Health, Health Psychology, Substance Use/Abuse, Public Health, Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry.
I am a member of the college of reviewers for various NIHR funding schemes.