Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Jenny welcomes applications from potential PhD students, especially those interested in intergroup relations, prejudice reduction, hate crimes, and intergroup romantic relationships.

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Personal profile


Jenny is an experimental social psychologist with a specific interest in understanding and alleviating the intergroup and interpersonal impacts of prejudice.

Jenny received her BSc in Psychology from Berry College, Georgia, USA, graduating summa cum laude. She gained her Masters in Social Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa under the supervision of Prof. Elaine Hatfield, before returning to the UK to become a Research Assistant to Prof. Rhiannon Turner and Prof. Richard Crisp at the University of Leeds (2008-2009). Following this appointment, Jenny was awarded a prestigious University Research Scholarship to complete her PhD at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Prof. Rhiannon Turner and Prof. Mark Conner (2009-2013). Becoming a Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, Jenny worked alongside Prof. Rupert Brown and Prof. Mark Walters on the Sussex Hate Crime Project (2013-2018). Jenny was appointed Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Teesside University (2018-2019), before moving to Northumbria as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in July 2019.

Jenny values interdisciplinary and international collaborations and has worked with colleagues across disciplines, including Midwifery, Law and Criminology, and across countries, including Canada, Northern Ireland, the US, and Poland. She is also currently a member of the International Network of Hate Studies and the Identification With All Humanity Lab. You can follow her on Twitter @DrJennyPaterson.

Research interests

Jenny’s research draws on various social psychological theories, including intergroup contact theory, social identity theory, and intergroup emotions theory, to examine two distinct but often complementary themes: love and hate.

Researching love

Building upon her PhD, which examined the interpersonal and intergroup consequences of cross-group romantic relationships (2009-2013), Jenny examines perceptions and consequences of cross-group romantic relationships. Although these relationships are often overlooked in the intergroup relations literature, research into their formation and consequences are crucial because these unique relationships can both transgress and potentially transform group boundaries.

Through this avenue of research Jenny has shown that interracial romantic relationships are perceived more negatively than same-race relationships, but having extended contact with interracial couples can reduce prejudice in others (Paterson, Turner, & Conner, 2015, JASP). In addition, she has shown that intergroup contact between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland not only improves general intergroup attitudes, it also increases participants own receptivity towards intergroup dating (Paterson, Turner, & Hodson, 2019, JASP).

Continuing with this research theme, Jenny plans to investigate who, when, and why people form cross-group and same-race romantic relationships. Importantly, she seeks to further explore both the interpersonal and the intergroup consequences of these relationships, for example, do cross-group couples experience more disapproval of their relationship than same-group couples? If so, does that impact on their relationship satisfaction? Does it influence on their own intergroup attitudes? Jenny also aims to examine how children of these relationships are perceived and how they may transform group categorisations which may, in turn, influence intergroup attitudes even further.

Researching hate

Following her Research Fellowship on the Sussex Hate Crime Project, Jenny is particularly interested in understanding and alleviating the impacts of hate crime. Through this research she has shown that hate crimes not only disproportionately impact victims directly involved in the crimes, such incidents send messages of intolerance throughout entire communities (Walters, Paterson, Brown, & McDonnell, 2017, JIV). These effects are felt more acutely than comparable non-hate crimes (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2019, BJSP), affect all sections of diverse communities (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2018, TPM; Walters, Paterson, McDonnell, & Brown, 2019, IRV), and are relatively long lasting (Paterson, Brown, & Walters, 2019, PSPB).

Leading a British Academcy funded project, Jenny is currently working with Prof Mark Walters (Sussex) and Lisa Hall (Northumbria) to investigate victim blaming in hate crime cases. The project aims to better understand why and when individuals blame victims of hate crime, and how to reduce such victim blaming tendencies. 

Within this research, Jenny is passionate about using her research to inform policies and practices, as well as raising awareness of the impacts of hate crimes. To this end, she has worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service which drew upon her research to inform its policy of using community impact statements for the prosecution of hate crime cases. She has also submitted her research to numerous Parliamentary enquiries and her research was widely cited in the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Report on Hate Crime, as well as the Law Commission's Review in to Hate Crime legislation. This research also attracted wide media attention, including an article in the Metro, a national newspaper, and an article on the front page of the BBC website which has attracted more than 200,000 visits.

Jenny aims to further explore the impacts of hate crime, including investigating the roles of identity, empathy and victim blaming. She also plans on continuing to work with legal professionals and practitioners to better understand the role that restorative justice could play in addressing the harms of hate.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Psychology, PhD, University of Leeds

1 Oct 20091 Mar 2013

Award Date: 1 Mar 2013

Psychology, MA, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

1 Sept 20061 May 2008

Award Date: 1 May 2008

Psychology, Berry College

1 Sept 20021 May 2006

Award Date: 1 May 2006


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