Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Assistant Professor of Social Psychology
London School of Economics and Political Science

I am a social psychologist interested in the mechanisms underlying our human sensitivity to power, status, and group membership: their origins, interactions, and manifestation in societal context.

Twitter: @jsskeffington

LAB & supervision

At the LSE's Department of Psychological & Behavioural Science, I am building up a community of researchers working with me in investigating the psychology of poverty, inequality, and intergroup relations.


I am accepting applications for PhD students to commence September 2020. As I see the PhD student-adviser relationship as collaborative, I would particularly welcome applications from students who would like to work on topics within my research programme. Themes of interest in the coming years are:

  1. The link between socioeconomic status and decision-making, including:

    1. The impact of resource scarcity and/or low relative social status on cognitive and/or self-regulatory processes;

    2. The link between socioeconomic status and prejudice, trust and social relations;

    3. Psychological antecedents and consequences of rising levels of economic inequality in industrialised countries.

  2. The political psychology of intergroup relations, including:

    1. The role of innate cognition for basic relational forms (i.e. dominance, equality, communality, proportionality) in shaping sociopolitical attitudes and behaviours;

    2. Understanding the rise of political populism, the extreme right, and anti-immigrant sentiment through a social dominance theory framework;

    3. The psychology of the spread, acceptance and challenge of ideologies and narratives (discourse) legitimising societal relations.

I would be happy to supervise students using experimental, survey and panel data methods, and am keen to use more longitudinal and multilevel analytical techniques. I can also support students using qualitative methods as a secondary approach, or to be second supervisor for a student using qualitative methods as a primary approach.

I also supervise MSc dissertations, and look forward to hearing from Masters students whose research interests broadly align with my own.

current lab members

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Sandra Obradvoic - LSE Fellow

Sandra holds a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at LSE PBS, having recently graduated with her PhD from the department, under the supervision of Caroline Howarth and Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington. She obtained her BA in Sociology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and her MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology at the LSE. Her research interests focus on how collective continuity is managed in times of socio-political change. In particular, her dissertation utilizes a mixed-methods approach to examine the role of history, power and national identity in the process of supranational integration. In the future, Sandra plans to continue to focus her research on the role of national identity and nationalism in shaping political attitudes and beliefs.

Jessica Rea - Research Associate

Jessica managed the evidence review of poverty & decision-making for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and is now focused on writing it up into several journal articles, as well as advancing her own research on mental health and psychosocial well-being among people dealing with homelessness and low socioeconomic status. Jess holds a BA in Psychology and Industrial & Organisational Psychology from the University of South Africa and a MSc in Applied Social Psychology from Royal Holloway, University of London, where she is currently finishing a PhD in Psychology.

Iván Cano - PhD Student

Iván is an LSE Ph.D. Studentship recipient at the PBS department, supervised by Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington and Sandra Jovchelovitch. He holds an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from the University of Oxford, an MSc in Community-Based Psychosocial Intervention and a five-year degree in Psychology complemented with a Diploma in Psychosocial Interventions in Crisis, Emergency and Disaster Situations from the Autonomous University of Madrid. Iván’s Ph.D. research focuses on the psychosocial components of poverty. Specifically, he is exploring the relationship between poverty, fatalism, and shame, the influence of cognitive construal on memory reconstructions and feelings of shame, and how these components may differ between individualistic and collectivist societies. In the future, Iván plans to develop three strands of research: behavioural economics and social justice, stigma and prejudice reduction, and wellbeing and social change.

Denise Baron - PhD Student

Denise is a former research assistant in the lab, now a PhD student across the LSE Methodology and Psychological & Behavioural Science Departments, supervised by Ben Lauderdale (primary) and Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (secondary). While working at the lab in 2016, Denise led a team of research assistants working on perceptions of economic inequality for a series of studies funded by the Tobin Project, while also conducting data collection and analysis for our studies of the psychology of scarcity and low social status. Denise holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame and an MSc in Social & Public Communication from the LSE. She has previously worked as a political strategist in the United States, and her Masters dissertation investigated the phenomenon of ‘nationalistic nostalgia’ among UK voters in the wake of the Brexit referendum. Currently working in communications for political parties alongside her PhD studies, Denise would like to pursue a career at the interface of psychology, policy-making and social issues.  

Julia Buzan - MSc Student, Research Assistant

Julia is starting as an MSc student in the Psychology of Economic Life Programme at the PBS Department, but has been working in the lab as a research assistant since September. Julia has been driving forward our research on perceptions of economic inequality, overseeing the coding of UK and US commuting data and matching it with official statistics on inequality, diversity, and deprivation. Julia recently finished up working with Innovations for Poverty Action and the Gender Innovation Lab at the World Bank on a project examining redistributive pressures from kin networks faced by women in Côte D'Ivoire's cashew processing sector. Previously she worked in the technology for development space in India and South Africa,supporting social impact organizations to design and implement data systems. Julia holds a BA in Political Science with a Concentration in International Economic Development from Yale University.

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Swarna Suresh Tyagi - Research Assistant (remote)

Swarna is currently providing research support in the lab on projects investigating the psychology of poverty and perceptions of economic inequality. She is a recent Masters student at the LSE with an MSc. in Organisational and Social Psychology and a B.A. in Economics from University of Madras (India). At present, Swarna is an Academic Associate at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (India), wherein she assists the faculty in the Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management Department in their ongoing research projects. She has volunteering experience as an LSE Student Mentor and has previously worked with Teach For India and is keenly interested in working in the social sphere with a primary focus in Organisational Development and Change. 

Former Lab Members

Jimena Sanchez - MSc Supervisee

Jimena is a Licentiate in Political Science from the University of San Andrés in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After 4 years of work experience in her country, at the local government and in policy related- think tanks, she became a student at the MSc in Social and Public Communication at LSE. As part of her master's dissertation, she conducted a lab study to analyse the role of low socioeconomic status in cognitive performance and evaluate the potential psychological benefits associated to self-identify social status in group terms. At the present, Jimena continues working on this common project and is interested in pursuing a career applying a psychological and behavioural approach to the design and implementation of policies with special focus on the reduction of poverty and inequality.

Philip Havmose - MSc Supervisee

Philip worked on lab studies investigating the impact of resource scarcity on construal level and temporal discounting, building on his dissertation for the LSE MSc in Social & Public Communication. Philip holds a BSc in psychology from the University of Southern Denmark, where he also worked as a research assistant for the PsychMeasure research group. Following his Master’s degree, Philip conducted a six-month internship with the UN World Food Programme in Myanmar. In the long run, Philip is planning to pursue a career combining psychology, public health and communication.

Meherunissa Hamid - Research Assistant 

Meherunissa worked as a research assistant in the lab, supporting the evidence review of poverty & decision-making for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. She is now Programme Manager - Childhood TB (Global Fund grant) - at the Global Health Directorate, Indus Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan. Meherunissa holds a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Newcastle, and two Masters degrees, one in Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases and one in Public Health in Developing Countries, both from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Rabia Yavuz - Summer Intern

As a summer intern, Rabia supported the analysis of surveys for our studies of perceptions of economic inequality, originally funded by the Tobin Project. Before joining the lab, Rabia was a summer research assistant in Utrecht University's ERCOMER (The Netherlands), and in the PAMER Research Center in Uskudar University (Turkey), where she published an article entitled, “Creating shopping malls as postcolonial spaces through leisure time discourses: the example of shopping malls in Istanbul”. Rabia is currently completing a BA with double major (Psychology & Sociology) and a minor (Turkish Language & Literature) at Istanbul Sehir University, and is working a teaching assistant for Assistant Professor Reyyan Bilge at Sehir University, Turkey. She is working toward further study in the field of social psychology, and can be reached at

Natasha Ann Brigham - Research Assistant

Natasha worked as a research assistant on the evidence review of poverty & decision-making for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. She holds BA in Psychology from Aalborg University, an MA in Psychology from the University of Copenhagen, and an MSc in Social & Cultural Psychology from the LSE, and is currently a Project Manager with the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues - UK.


I am also affiliated with the Social and Intergroup Relations Lab (SIRL) at the University of Oslo.