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Social Psychology Postgraduate Programme

The Social Psychology Postgraduate Programme is made up of three core courses which provide students with a detailed background in cutting edge research on how people think, feel and behave within their interpersonal interactions, in larger groups, and in society in general. The three courses focus on a combination of theory and empirical research and methods used to understand interpersonal and intergroup processes.

The Social Psychology Programme provides students with the skills, training and knowledge to continue on to further postgraduate study in Social Psychology at the masters or PhD level.

Routes to the specialisation

The following courses provide an important background if you are interested in studying Social Psychology at postgraduate level:

Social Psychology supervision


Honors Research Projects Offered in the Close Relationships and Interpersonal Processes Lab

Supervisor: Nickola Overall

Nickola has a range of research programs focusing on close relationships and interpersonal processes. Examples of research topics that students could work on include:

  • investigating the role of social support in protecting psychological and physical health from the damaging effects of stressful life events
  • identifying the communication strategies that are most effective in resolving relationship conflict and the communication dynamics that increase the risk of relationship dissolution and divorce
  • examining the impact of attachment insecurity and low self-esteem on relationship functioning, and identifying the factors that can overcome these vulnerabilities
  • exploring how power and sexist attitudes influence interpersonal interactions, including emotional and behavioral reactions to conflict and biased perceptions of relationship transactions

Nickola runs an apprenticeship-based model in her lab. This means her Honours students:

  • work on large ongoing research projects to gain experience in data collection and coding
  • analyze and write up a part of these larger projects for their Honours dissertation
  • depending on their interest, draw dissertation data from existing behavioural observation studies, experience sampling studies, longitudinal studies, speed-dating studies, or experimental studies
  • focus on (1) interpersonal processes, such as communication, support, regulation, relationship maintenance, (2) the predictors of these processes, such as attachment insecurity, sexist attitudes, depressive symptoms, and/or (3) the ways in which interpersonal and social processes influence the self, such as self-esteem, belonging, depression, stress, health or life satisfaction
  • potentially write up their study for publication (authorship is not guaranteed; it depends on the contribution and quality of the students’ work but publication of the research is the ultimate goal)
  • contribute to the collaborative environment of the close relationships and interpersonal processes lab, which involves her team of students meeting regularly to present research ideas and data, discuss research projects, give and receive feedback, and learn critical skills, such as statistical techniques


Honors Research Projects Offered in the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study Lab

Supervisors: Danny Osborne and Chris Sibley

Students wishing to work with Danny or Chris will have the opportunity to work on the larger New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS). This is a representative longitudinal study that assesses change and stability in the personality, social attitudes, and values of roughly 25,000 New Zealanders each year. The study is jointly led by Danny Osborne and Chris Sibley. There are huge and diverse number of research questions using data from the NZAVS. What they all have in common is:

  • Statistical analysis of longitudinal and nationally representative data (we will teach you the stats, you bring the interest and enthusiasm)
  • Working as part of a larger team to help enter and manage part of the study as the hands on or applied component of your research project.
  • Generally, most honors research projects that work with the NZAVS data result in publishable research papers in academic journals.

The NZAVS is a social psychological study, and is suited for students interested in quantitative social psychology. The NZAVS also contains many measures relating to research on psychological wellbeing and health-related outcomes. In terms of specific research topics in these areas, there is a high level of flexibility (all of the variables in the NZAVS are interesting to us, and there are a lot of possible options).

If you want to work with the NZAVS for your honors thesis, then before you contact us, please have a careful read over the material on the NZAVS website, read the FAQ, look over the questionnaire, and familiarize yourself with the study:


Topics offered by Danny Osborne:

  • The effects of inequality on New Zealanders health and well-being.
  • The causes and consequences of people’s religious beliefs.
  • The relationship between people’s worldviews and their support for (or opposition to) immigration policies.
  • Examining the downstream effects of people’s motivation to justify the system.


Possible topics offered by Chris Sibley:

  • Ambivalent Sexism: modelling changing levels of sexism in the population.
  • Ambivalent Sexism: the psychological outcomes of endorsing sexism.
  • The measurement of Maori identity and psychological wellbeing.
  • Belief in climate change: modeling change in climate change belief and attitudes


Further information

Further information about Social Psychology can be obtained from:

Dr Nickola Overall
Phone: +64 9 923 89120

Dr Chris Sibley
Phone: +64 9 923 8353

Dr Danny Osborne
Phone: +64 9 923 2287

General enquiries about postgraduate studies in Psychology and enrolment should be directed to  

Sheryl Robertson
Phone: +64 9 923 6852

Graduates of universities overseas and/or those without New Zealand citizenship or permanent resident status should also correspond with the International Office:

International Office
Phone: +64 9 923 7556