John McAlaney

Dr John McAlaney

  • Associate Professor in Psychology
  • Poole House P120, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB
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I am a Chartered Psychologist, Chartered Scientist and Associate 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 am currently undertaking the role of Head of Education, alongside my colleague Dr Jane Elsley.


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 am Deputy Head of the Research Centre for Behaviour Change and a member of the Engineering of Social Informatics Research Group (ESOTICS).


Journal Articles


  • 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, 2018. Groups Online: Hacktivism and Social Protest. In: McAlaney, J., Frumkin, L. and Benson, V., eds. Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security. IGI Global, 194-209.
  • Ali, R., Jiang, N., Phalp, K., Muir, S. and McAlaney, J., 2015. The Emerging Requirement for Digital Addiction Labels. Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality 21st International Working Conference, REFSQ 2015, Essen, Germany, March 23-26, 2015. Proceedings. Springer.
  • 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

  • Jody Quigley. Social norms and self-harming behaviour
  • Sarah Hodge. Morality in video games
  • Tessa Corner. Is it possible to map the disease of addiction as a spectrum disorder?
  • Andrew Mmanga. Designing systems for risk-based decision making and assurance’ studentship
  • Sainabou Cham. Digital addiction awareness: modelling and tracking planned and deviated online usage
  • Aarif Alutaybi. Avoiding digital addiction: capturing and agreeing expectations in cyber social interactions
  • Helen Thackray, 2019. Anonymous hackers: Online group processes, social identity and cyber security

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)


  • 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

External Responsibilities

  • Manchester Metropolitan University, External Examiner
  • Pearson Publishing, Online data analysis resource author

Public Engagement & Outreach Activities

  • Advisor on Touch Social Norms Project currently being run by the Fife Alcohol Industry Partnership

Conference Presentations

  • Realigning Cyber Security Education, Incorporating Psychology into Cyber Security Education: Key Areas and Pedagogical Approaches, 27 Nov 2017, Canberra
  • 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,
The data on this page was last updated at 04:14 on January 16, 2019.