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Roxanne Hawkins


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Available for second supervisory role

Willing to speak to media


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Roxy is a Lecturer in Psychology within the School of Education and Social Sciences, based at the Paisley campus. She is a multidisciplinary psychologist specialising in human-animal interactions. Her main research interests lie within understanding the psychological and biological mechanisms underpinning positive human-animal interactions, as well as understanding and preventing cruelty to animals. She has a background in animal behaviour and welfare and continues to have interests in how psychology can also aid understanding of human-wildlife interactions. Recent research projects include understanding the biological underpinnings of the human-dog bond, eye-tracking research into how humans process dog emotions, evaluation of animal welfare interventions, understanding the role of pets for mental health and early adversity, and reviewing evidence of animal ‘therapies’ for mental health disorders.

Roxy is keen to implement different technologies to expand her research, such as the use of ‘serious games’ to promote positive human-animal interactions, as well as virtual reality as an alternative to therapy animals. She is also keen to develop new skills in media and science communication to help her research have wider reach and engage public audiences. Roxy’s ambition is to raise general public knowledge and interest, and academic awareness of the important role that animals play within people’s lives and society.

Roxy has recently launched The Science of Pets website and Facebook page. The Science of Pets' mission is to bring science and research to the public and to facilitate exciting new science projects into the psychology of human-pet relationships. |

Current research activities

My research interests lie in: the psychology of positive and negative human-animal interactions, attachment to pets, animal assisted therapy, nature 'therapy', mental health and wellbeing, inter-species emotion recognition and communication, emotion contagion, beliefs about animal minds, connectedness to nature, ‘serious games’ and digital interventions, animal behaviour and welfare, and understanding and preventing cruelty and violence in childhood, such as cruelty to animals.


Desired research direction

Research studies into human-animal and human-nature relationships, ‘serious games’, mental health and wellbeing. Broad areas include:

1)  Bio-psycho-social benefits of and interactions with animals and nature (e.g. animal-assisted therapy, attachment to pets, connectedness to nature, nature-therapy)

2) Experimental methods into non-human emotion recognition, belief in animal mind, non-human face perception

3) Inter-species emotion contagion, empathy, and inter-species communication

4) The development and evaluation of ‘serious games’

5) Understanding and preventing cruelty to animals 

6) Attitudes towards animal and environmental conservation

7) Animal behaviour and welfare / education

Target collaborative organisations

I am always open and keen to form new collaborations, particularly with the following:

Animal welfare / conservation charities

Animal-assisted therapy organisations / health care practitioners

Charities / non-profit organisations / 3rd sector

Zoo’s / wildlife sanctuaries

Video game developers



Current teaching activities and interests

  • Teaching across core BPS domains at both undergraduate and masters
  • Module Co-ordinator of Human-Animal Interactions (in development)
  • Supervision of MSc in Psychology (conversion) students
  • Supervision of BSc Psychology students
  • Open to supervision of PhD students
  • Past teaching: Clinical and Health Psychology (MSc), Psychology conversion (MSc), Psychology in Education (MSc and BA). Supervision of MSc students. Module Co-ordinator and moderator. Curriculum design and development.


Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange


Carnegie Student Scholarship, 2020, the University of West Scotland (supervisor)

Purina 2020 Sponsorship For Human-Animal Bond Studies ($27,410), 2020, the University of West Scotland. (PI). 

Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (£11,370), 2019, the University of West Scotland. (PI)

Strategic Hub Research and Enterprise Fund (£893), 2019, the University of West Scotland. 

Travel Award, University of Edinburgh (£1000), 2018, the University of Edinburgh

IAD Action Fund (£2100), 2018, the University of Edinburgh. (PI)

Innovative Initiative Grant (£2,000), 2017, the University of Edinburgh. (Co-applicant)

Scottish SPCA PhD Scholarship, 2015-2017, the University of Edinburgh

Research Scholarship from UFAW (£2000), 2012, the University of Roehampton. (PI)


Reports/ Press releases

Research has been featured in a range of newspapers, websites and radio shows.

Research into the effects of early life adversity on later psychopathology and abnormal stress which was used as evidence in parliamentary debate (2012-2013)

Children with pets are more likely to be kind to animals, 22/06/17

Pets really are a kid's best friend, 25/06/17, The Sunday Post

Kids' bark secrets, 25/06/17, The Scottish Sun

Kids' pet pals, 23/06/17, The Daily Star of Scotland

Want your children to be kind to animals? Just get them a pet, 22/06/17, The Scottish Daily Mail

Children with pets less cruel to animals, 22/06/17, The Herald

Pets encourage kindness in children, 22/06/17, The Aberdeen Press and Journal

Kids who love their pets are less likely to hurt animals, 22/06/17, The National

Pets make children more caring says study, 22/06/17, the Bolton News

Pets make children more caring says study, 22/06/17, The Lancashire Telegraph

Children with pets are more likely to be kind to animals, 22/06/17

Scottish SPCA reports 382% rise in calls from children, STV News, 01/03/2017, 

Animal's have feelings too!, Scottish SPCA News Room, 01/03/2017, 

Animals have feelings too: Scottish SPCA’s education programme makes an impact. The Edinburgh Reporter, 01/03/2017, 

Number of animal welfare complaints on the increase, Third Force News, 02/03/2017

A conference in Edinburgh has been hearing how the bond between humans and animals is a mutually beneficial relationship, which can be essential to the health and well-being of both. Experts from the Scottish SPCA and Edinburgh University have been taking part in the conference. STV Central East and STV News at Six and Weather, 03/09/2018.


External positions

Guest Lecturer, University of Stirling

2019 → …

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Edinburgh


Teaching Fellow (maternity cover for Lecturer in Developmental Psychology), University of Edinburgh


Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh


Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

Jan 2016Sep 2016

Tutor / Lecturer, University of Edinburgh


Doctoral Research Student , University of Edinburgh


Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

Dec 2014

Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh



  • BF Psychology
  • Psychology
  • Research Methodology
  • Anthrozoology
  • Animal Welfare
  • Comparative Psychology
  • Human-animal interactions
  • Mental health
  • Clinical psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Wellbeing
  • Interventions


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