Professor Richard Cooke joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Professor Richard Cooke who joined the University as a Professor of Health Psychology in January 2022. Richard introduces himself below:

Professor Richard Cooke

I am delighted to have joined the amazing Staffordshire University as their new Professor of Health Psychology, director of the Centre for Psychological Research (SCPR), and co-director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. I am a full member of the Division of Health Psychology and registered as Health Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Registered Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor. I am the current chair of the Division of Health Psychology’s Conference Scientific Committee. I previously acted as Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual scientific meeting hosted at Edgbaston Cricket ground.

My primary research interest focuses on people’s motivation to perform health behaviours, investigating questions such as “Why do people drink excessively?” and “Why don’t people eat healthily and engage in physical activity?”. I’m also interested in health guidelines and why people don’t follow them!, as well as working with colleagues from the Global Drug Survey team, based in Australia, the UK, and the US, on global comparisons of substance use.

My secondary research interest is working with health professionals to design, develop and evaluate health behaviour change interventions. My interest in this area began when I led a qualitative evaluation of the NHS Health Checks programme in Birmingham. Since completing that project I’ve worked with Optometrists at Aston University, and Nutritionists at the University of Manchester, to promote dietary behaviour change in patient populations. I am currently working on a NIHR-funded grant with dentists at the University of Liverpool to test the impact of a health behaviour change intervention to promote routine dental attendance.

Many moons ago, I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Sheffield, before completing my Masters degree in Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Reading. I then returned to Sheffield to complete my PhD on moderation of cognition-behaviour relations using properties of cognition in 2002. Next, I worked at the University of Leeds on the UNIQoLL project – an attempt to map out the mental health of ALL students at the University. I then moved to Sheffield Hallam University in 2003 to take on a post as a Lecturer in Health Psychology. One year later, I moved to Aston University as a Lecturer in Health Psychology, gaining promotion to Senior Lecturer in 2012. I was part of the team that established the MSc Health Psychology programme in 2005 and the MSc Health Psychology (online) programme a decade later. I delivered Quantitative Methods and Advanced Statistics and Health Behaviours modules for 13 years as well as teaching methods and statistics, social psychology, and an optional module on the psychology of alcohol at undergraduate level. Prior to coming to Staffs, I spent four years as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, teaching a postgraduate module in advanced research methods as part of their MSc Research Methods in Psychology.

Currently, I have several ongoing projects, including supervising a PhD student to explore the link between the fear of missing out (FoMO) and alcohol consumption, secondary analyses of big data sets with collaborators at UEA and in Bremen, and secondary analyses of longitudinal data with colleagues in Norway. I continue to write up results of the CALIBRATE study, a funded study seeking to compare prediction of alcohol consumption between university students based in six different European countries. If you are interested in hearing more about these projects feel free to email me via richard.cooke@staffs.ac.uk or you can follow me on Twitter @Prof_R_Cooke.

My first few weeks at Staffordshire have been great – everyone is really friendly, and it’s been a pleasure to meet people and discuss ideas.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Meet StaffsPsych PhD researcher Matthew Kimberley

Written by Matthew Kimberley, Psychology PhD Researcher

I am currently in the second year of my PhD at Staffordshire University. Every PhD at Staffs is completely different and is tailored to the researcher. You choose your own research area and much of the design and the direction of the PhD is directed by the research, with support offered by your supervisors.

The wide range of research being conducted within the department at Staffordshire University allows you to interact with researchers with different research interests and methodologies. Through interactions with your fellow researchers, you are able to share your experiences and learn from one another. This may include sharing methodology/analysis experiences or methods of recruitment.

During a PhD at Staffordshire University, you work closely with your supervision team at all stages of research and receive a great deal of feedback. My supervision team consists of Doctor Jade Elliott, Doctor Samuel Jones and Doctor Zachary Parker. During your PhD, you gain a great deal of support and mentorship from your supervisors. Having more than supervisor allows you to gain insight from several viewpoints which is useful when shaping your research.

Completing a PhD allows you to dedicate a large proportion of your time to your research and to focus your attention to answering your research question. My research examines the factors which influence whether an individual shares their sexual fantasies with their partner. To accomplish this, I am primarily using quantitative research methods, such as quantitative content analysis and multiple regression analysis.

Alongside my PhD, I also teach part-time in the Psychology department. This has allowed me to gain valuable teaching experience and provided me with a number of training opportunities. I am particularly interested in gaining HEA associate fellowship in the near future.

My research:

Working alongside my supervisors, my research currently focuses on the disclosure of sexual fantasies. In particular, I am interested in examining which factors may influence how likely individuals are to share their fantasies with an intimate partner.

During the initial year of my PhD at Staffordshire University, I conducted a systematic review which aimed to examine which factors influenced self-disclosure within sexual and/or romantic relationships (Kimberley et al., in preparation). This review highlighted that very little research has examined which factors influence the disclosure of sexual fantasies.

Given that a large proportion of individuals regularly experience sexual fantasies (97%- Lehmiller, 2018) and that sexual fantasies and sexual self-disclosure act as relationship maintenance and enhancement tools, it is important to conduct research to examine which factors may inhibit or promote the disclosure of sexual fantasies.  

Drawing upon methodologies commonly used by HIV research, my first study aimed to identify the reasons participants provided for disclosing (or not disclosing) their sexual fantasies. This study also asked participants how their partner responded (or how they believed their partner would respond) to these disclosures. Recruitment has recently ended for this study, and I am now beginning to start analysis of the data using content analysis. Understanding the reasons people hold for hiding their sexual fantasies from a partner is crucial for developing an understanding of why some people disclose and others do not.

I have also recently received ethical approval for a second study, which examines how relationship characteristics (e.g. trust, love or perceptions of one’s partner) may influence an individual’s likelihood of disclosing their sexual fantasies. Recruitment for this study has started recently. Within this study, participants are asked to reflect on their relationship with a regular partner and to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving the disclosure of various sexual fantasies. To participate, you must be aged over 18 and currently in a sexual and/or romantic relationship. You do not need to have previously disclosed (or had) a sexual fantasy to take part.

If you would be interested in taking part, you can do so by accessing the following link (http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2gK6xCjjZVTMvJA)

If you are a Staffordshire University student, you may also take part in the study through sona, where you can earn 2 sona credits. If you have any questions, please contact me (matthew.kimberley@research.staffs.ac.uk).


Exterior Science Centre

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.