John McAlaney

Professor John McAlaney

  • Professor In Psychology
  • Poole House P251, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB
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I am a Chartered Psychologist, Chartered Scientist and Professor of Psychology. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Stirling, my MSc at the University of Strathclyde and then my PhD at the University of West of Scotland in 2007. My PhD was on the topic of social psychology and substance use, looking particularly at misperceptions of peer norms. Following this I worked on an AERC funded post-doc position at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine before moving onto a lecturing post at the University of Bradford in 2008. I joined the Department of Psychology here at Bournemouth in 2014. I lead the Cyberpsychology research group, and are Programme Leader for the BSc Cyberpsychology degree. Outside of the University I act as a Trustee for the Gordon Moody Association, which provides treatment for individuals with problem gambling.


My research focuses on social psychological aspects of behaviour change, and how this is informed by group dynamics and perceptions of peer behaviour. I have been extensively involved in the development of the social norms approach in the UK, which aims to bring about positive change through challenging misconceptions and negative stereotypes. I am particularly interested in applying this research to areas that involve risk based decision making.

Since joining Bournemouth University I have also been working with colleagues from the Department of Computing on several aspects of socio-technical systems. This includes exploring how social psychology research may be used to better understand the role of human factors in cybercrime, hacktivism and online social protest; as well as how system may be designed to address the potential psychological factors associated with excessive use of digital technologies (i.e. digital addiction). I also conduct research on problematic gambling and how this can be addressed with the help of technology to detect, predict, prevent and intervene with harmful gambling behaviours. More broadly I am interested in how socio-technical systems transform and enhance social processes, including for example issues such as the spread of fake news.

A common element of all of my research activity is engagement with stakeholders to ensure that real-world benefits are achieved. This includes industry, charities and Government organisations.


Journal Articles



  • Segumpan, R.G. and McAlaney, J., 2023. Gulf Higher Education Reforms vis-à-vis the Pandemic: Conclusion. Challenges and Reforms in Gulf Higher Education: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and Assessing Future Implications. 209-211.
  • McAlaney, J. and Segumpan, R.G., 2023. Directions in Gulf Higher Education: Conclusion. Challenges and Reforms in Gulf Higher Education: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and Assessing Future Implications. 101-104.
  • McAlaney, J., 2022. Are you anonymous? Social-psychological processes of hacking groups. Cybersecurity and Cognitive Science. 139-155.
  • Bewick, B.M., Dempsey, R.C., McAlaney, J. and Crosby, H.F., 2021. Electronic brief personalised feedback interventions for alcohol use. The Palgrave Handbook of Psychological Perspectives on Alcohol Consumption. 477-498.
  • McAlaney, J., 2021. Quality drivers in Gulf higher education: Conclusion. Higher Education in the Gulf: Quality Drivers. 80-82.
  • Taylor-Jackson, J., McAlaney, J., Foster, J.L., Bello, A., Maurushat, A. and Dale, J., 2020. Incorporating Psychology into Cyber Security Education: A Pedagogical Approach. In: Bernhard, M., Bracciali, A., Camp, L.J., Matsuo, S., Rønne, P.B. and Sala, M., eds. Financial Cryptography and Data Security. Springer.
  • Taylor, J., Thackray, H., Hodge, S.E. and McAlaney, J., 2020. Introducing Psychological Concepts and Methods to Cybersecurity Students. Research Anthology on Rehabilitation Practices and Therapy. 1829-1839.
  • McAlaney, J. and Benson, V., 2019. Cybersecurity as a social phenomenon. Cyber Influence and Cognitive Threats. 1-8.
  • Hodge, S., McAlaney, J., Gatzidis, C., Anderson, E.F., Melacca, D. and Taylor, J., 2018. Applying Psychological Theory to in-game moral behaviors through the development of a purpose-made game. In: Bowman, N.D., ed. Video Games: A Medium That Demands Our Attention. New York and London: Routledge, 108-125.
  • McAlaney, J., Benson, V. and Frumkin, L.A., 2018. Preface. xvii-xxiii.
  • Thackray, H. and McAlaney, J., 2018. Groups online: Hacktivism and social protest. Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security. 194-209.
  • Taylor, J., Thackray, H., Hodge, S.E. and McAlaney, J., 2018. Introducing psychological concepts and methods to cybersecurity students. Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security. 98-108.
  • Benson, V., McAlaney, J. and Frumkin, L.A., 2018. Emerging threats for the human element and countermeasures in current cyber security landscape. Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security. 266-271.
  • McAlaney, J., Boot, C.R., Dahlin, M., Lintonen, T., Stock, C., Rasmussen, S. and Van Hal, G., 2013. Substance use behaviours and normative beliefs in North West European university and college students. In: Shek, D.T.L., Sun, R.C.F. and Merrick, J., eds. University and College Students: Health and Development Issues for the Leaders of Tomorrow. Nova Publishers.
  • Boot, C.R., Dahlin, M., Lintonen, T., Stock, C., Van Hal, G., Rasmussen, S. and McAlaney, 2013. Associations between misperceptions on substance use by peers and health and academic outcomes in university students. In: Shek, D.T.L., Sun, R.C.F. and Merrick, J., eds. University and College Students: Health and Development Issues for the Leaders of Tomorrow. Nova Publishers.
  • McAlaney, McMahon, J. and Edgar, F., 2009. Public and professional conceptualisations of binge drinking: are we all talking the same language? Binge Drinking Research Progress. Nova Publishers.






PhD Students

  • Sarah Hodge, 2018. Press trigger for morality: An exploration into the role of moral development, moral decision-making and video game play, (Completed)
  • Helen Thackray, 2019. Hackers gonna hack: Investigating the effect of group processes & social identities within online hacking communities, (Completed)
  • Jody Quigley, 2017. Social norms and self-harming behaviour
  • Aarif Alutaybi. Avoiding digital addiction: capturing and agreeing expectations in cyber social interactions
  • Andrew Mmanga. Designing systems for risk-based decision making and assurance’ studentship
  • Lola Fagbule. Assessing behaviour change strategies in Cyber Security
  • Sainabou Cham. Digital addiction awareness: modelling and tracking planned and deviated online usage
  • Tessa Corner. Is it possible to map the disease of addiction as a spectrum disorder?

Profile of Teaching PG

  • Cyberpsychology (MSc Cybersecurity and Human Factors)

Profile of Teaching UG

  • Social Psychology and Individual Differences (Level C)
  • Cyberpsychology (Level H)
  • Personality, Intelligence and Social Psychology (Level I, module leader)


  • Picturing and voicing responsible online gambling (Economic and Social Research Council, 11 Sep 2020). Completed
  • Cross-cultural psychological aspects of cybersecurity (Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, 03 Apr 2017). In Progress
  • Happy to Help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor (University of Oxford, 13 Sep 2016). Completed
  • Eye gaze in the job interview: Do differences in gaze between video conferencing and face-to-face interviews change interviewers' perceptions of candidates? (British Academy, 01 Apr 2016). In Progress
  • NHS Lothian Social Norms Project (NHS Lothian, 01 Jan 2014). Completed
  • NHS Lothian Social Norms Project (NHS Lothian, 01 Aug 2012). Completed
  • NHS Fife Social Norms Project (NHS Fife, 01 Aug 2011). Completed
  • Social Norms Intervention for the Prevention of Polydrug Use (SNIPE) (European Union Drug Prevention and Information Programme, 01 Mar 2011). Completed

Conference Presentations

  • WACCO 2020 Workshop on Attackers and Cyber-Crime Operations, Knowledge is power: An analysis of discussions on hacking forums, 07 Sep 2020, Online
  • CyPsy24: Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference, Cultural differences in attitudes towards interactive messages for digital addiction: A UK-China comparison, 24 Jun 2019, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
  • Realigning Cyber Security Education International Workshop, Incorporating Psychology into Cyber Security Education: Key Areas and Pedagogical Approaches, 27 Nov 2017, Australian Defence Force Academy
  • Symposium on Cyber Security, Motivations, group processes and decision making of hackers and hacktivists, 14 Nov 2017, Manchester
  • A Roadmap of Research in Cybersecurity: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, Psychological and socio-technical aspects of cybersecurity, 15 Mar 2015, Doha, Qatar
  • First International Conference on Cyber Security for Sustainable Society 2015, The Social Psychology of Cybersecurity, 26 Feb 2015, Coventry
  • i-Don't Event, Overview of the Social Norms Approach, 12 Dec 2012, Carnegie College, Dunfermline
  • Social Norms Seminar, How to Implement the Social Norms Approach, 09 Feb 2012, Stevenage
  • Scottish Tobacco Control Alliance Youth and Tobacco Forum, Social Norms, 24 Feb 2011, Edinburgh
  • Drug Forum Education Seminar, Introduction to Social Norms, 19 Nov 2010, Birmingham


  • PGCE in Higher Education Practice (University of Bradford, 2010)
  • PhD in Binge drinking and culture change (University of the West of Scotland, 2008)
  • PGCE in Postgraduate Research Methods (University of the West of Scotland, 2006)
  • MSc in Psychological Research Methods (University of Strathclyde, 2002)
  • BSc (Hons) in Biology and Psychology (University of Stirling, 2001)


  • American Psychological Association, Associate,
  • British Psychological Society, Chartered Psychologist,
  • Higher Education Academy, Fellow,
  • Science Council, Chartered Scientist,

Social Media Links

External Media and Press