Researchers at UCD


Cliódhna O'Connor

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

School of Psychology
Newman Building

Tel: +353 1 716 8612


Dr. Cliódhna O'Connor is a social psychologist and Assistant Professor in the UCD School of Psychology. Her research investigates how people engage with scientific information and the implications this has for social attitudes, self-concept and common-sense beliefs. She is particularly interested in how scientific and clinical classifications influence social identity and intergroup relations, and has explored these links in a range of social contexts including gender stereotypes and psychiatric diagnosis. She currently holds a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2017-2019), which supports a mixed-methods research programme exploring the phenomenon of diagnostic transitions in youth mental healthcare. Prior to joining UCD, she was a Lecturer in the Maynooth University Department of Psychology. Her postdoctoral research was completed in the Lucena Clinic and University College London, where she was Co-Investigator on the project 'The Brain in the Public Sphere', funded by the Faraday Institute at St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge. She has held visiting positions in Princeton University Department of Psychology and UCD School of Medicine. She holds degrees from Trinity College Dublin (BA [Hons.] in Psychology), the London School of Economics & Political Science (MSc in Social & Cultural Psychology) and University College London (PhD in Social Psychology).


Honours and Awards

Year: 2018.
Title: Charlemont Grant
Year: 2016.
Title: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship
Year: 2015.
Title: SPSSI Grant-in-Aid
Year: 2012.
Title: Uses and Abuses of Biology Research Grant
Year: 2011.
Title: Sully Scholarship
Year: 2010.
Title: PhD Studentship
Year: 2009.
Title: Hilde Himmelweit Scholarship
Year: 2009.
Title: Provost's Gold Medal
Year: 2009.
Title: Graduate's Prize in Psychology
Year: 2007.
Title: Trinity College Scholarship
Year: 2005.
Title: Pádraig Pearse Easter Week Scholarship


Employer: Department of Psychology, Maynooth University
Position: Lecturer
Employer: Lucena Clinic, Rathgar
Position: Postdoctoral researcher
Employer: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, University College London
Position: Postdoctoral researcher


Year 2014 Institution: University College London
Qualification: PhD Subject:
Year 2010 Institution: London School of Economics & Political Science, UK
Qualification: MSc Subject:
Year 2009 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: BA (Hons.) Subject: Psychology



Book Chapters

O'Connor, C (2016) 'Science in society: Neuroscience and lay understandings of self and identity' In: Absher, J; Cloutier, J (eds). Neuroimaging Personality, Social Cognition and Character. London: Elsevier. , pp.371-382 Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Joffe, H; O'Connor, C (2013) 'Risk society and representations of risks: Earthquakes and beyond' In: Joffe, H; Rossetto, T; Adams, J (eds). Cities at Risk: Living with Perils in the 21st Century. Dordrecht: Springer. , pp.9-23 [DOI] [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

O'Connor, C; Reulbach, U; Gavin, B; McNicholas, F (2018) 'A prospective longitudinal investigation of the (dis)continuity of mental health difficulties between mid- to late-childhood and the predictive role of familial factors'. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (3):289-300. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Joffe, H; Rossetto, T; Bradley, C; O'Connor, C (2018) 'Stigma in science: the case of earthquake prediction'. Disasters, 42 (1):81-100. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C (2017) ''Appeals to nature' in marriage equality debates: A content analysis of newspaper and social media discourse'. British Journal of Social Psychology, 56 (3):493-514. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Nagel, S (2017) 'Neuro-enhancement practices across the lifecourse: Exploring the roles of relationality and individualism'. Frontiers in Sociology, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C (2017) 'Embodiment and the construction of social knowledge: Towards an integration of embodiment and social representations theory'. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 42 (1):2-24. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; McNamara, N; O'Hara, L; McNicholas, F (2016) 'Eating disorder literacy and stigmatising attitudes toward anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder among adolescents'. Advances in Eating Disorders, 4 (2):125-140. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
McNicholas, F; O'Connor, C; O'Hara, L; McNamara, N (2016) 'Stigma and treatment of eating disorders in Ireland: Health professionals' knowledge and attitudes'. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 33 (1):21-31. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Kirrane, M; O'Connor, C; Dunne, A M; Moriarty, P (2017) 'Intragroup processes and teamwork within a successful chamber choir'. Music Education Research, 19 (4):357-370. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
McNicholas, F; O'Connor, C; O'Hara, L; McNamara, N (2015) 'Eating disorder services for young people in Ireland: perspectives of service providers, service users and the general adolescent population'. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Smith, N; O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2015) 'Social Representations of Threatening Phenomena: The Self-Other Thema and Identity Protection'. PSR (Papers on Social Representations, Textes Sur Les Representations Sociales), 24 (2):1-23. Available Online [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2015) 'How the public engages with brain optimization: The media-mind relationship'. Science Technology and Human Values, 40 (5):712-743. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2014) 'Gender on the brain: A case study of science communication in the new media environment'. PLoS ONE, 9 (10):e110830. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2014) 'Social representations of brain research: Exploring public (dis)engagement with contemporary neuroscience'. Science Communication, 36 (5):617-645. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2014) 'The social aetiology of essentialist beliefs'. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37 (5):498-499. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2013) 'Media representations of early human development: Protecting, feeding and loving the developing brain'. Social Science and Medicine, 97 :297-306. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2013) 'How has neuroscience affected lay understandings of personhood? A review of the evidence'. Public Understanding of Science, 22 (3):254-268. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Joffe, H; Rossetto, T; Solberg, C; O'Connor, C (2013) 'Social representations of earthquakes: A study of people living in three highly seismic areas'. Earthquake Spectra, 29 (2):367-397. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Connor, C (2012) 'Using social representations theory to examine lay explanation of contemporary social crises: The case of Ireland's recession'. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 22 (6):453-469. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
OConnor, C; Rees, G; Joffe, H (2012) 'Neuroscience in the public sphere'. Neuron, 74 (2):220-226. Available Online [DOI] [Details]

Other Journals

O'Connor, C; Joffe, H (2016) 'Making brain waves in society' The Psychologist 29 :358-361. [Details]

Published Reports

Kirrane, M; O'Connor, C; Taylor, A M; Horan, B (2016) Women in Management - the Leadership Pipeline 2015. Dublin, 30% Club Ireland. [Details]


Research Interests

My research explores how people make sense of scientific information and the implications this has for their attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. I am particularly interested in how people's self-concept and social identity are affected by scientific and/or clinical classifications.

Currently my major research focus is on the topic of diagnostic transitions in youth mental healthcare. This work is supported by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2017-2019), which I am completing in collaboration with the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry team in the UCD School of Medicine. Diagnostic shifts are common over the course of a young person's engagement with mental health services, yet little research has quantified their prevalence or explored how young people and their families adapt to these changes. My research in the PAEDS project utilises a mixed-methods approach to clarify the frequency of diagnostic shifts in CAMHS and establish their implications for service-users' self-identity and engagement with mental health services. More information on the PAEDS project can be found on the project website.

My other research interests lie in public engagement with neuroscience. Recent work has particularly focused on how media coverage of neuroscience research can perpetuate biologically essentialist views of gender and sexual orientation.

Research Projects

Sponsor : HORIZON 2020
Title : Prevalence and Experience of Diagnostic Shifts in Youth Mental Healthcare (PAEDS)
Start Date / End Date : 01-SEP-17 / 31-AUG-19
Sponsor : Royal Irish Academy (RIA)
Title : Prevalence and patterns of diagnostic transitions in an electronic mental health case register
Start Date / End Date : 19-JAN-18 / 07-DEC-18
Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : Exploring the role played by Theory of Mind in the stigma associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Start Date / End Date : 01-APR-18 / 30-SEP-19



Modules Coordinated

201700   PSY10080     Psychology: Intro to Social Psychology