Future Leaders Fellow to explore positive effect of group bonding on social issues

Dr Martha Newson

Cognitive anthropologist Dr Martha Newson has joined the School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) with funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Future Leaders Fellowship scheme to investigate how group bonding can be used to address major social issues.

The research will explore the impact of individuals bonding in groups on the likelihood of reoffending, the building of sustainable societies and reducing football fan disorder and racism. This work will involve psychological surveys, hormonal analyses, interviews and novel interventions ranging from computer-based models to women’s groups.

Over an initial four-year period, Dr Newson’s research will be carried out across the UK, Australia and the USA. The research grant is worth up to £1.5 million – with the potential for further funding for an additional three years.

Dr Sarah Johns (SAC), Professor Dominic Abrams (School of Psychology) and Professor Alex Stevens (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research) will provide Dr Newson with mentorship throughout the project.

Dr Newson, who also holds the position of Research Associate at the University of Oxford’s Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion, said, “I am delighted to be awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship, which gives me long-term resources and flexibility to further develop my research. This project aims to demonstrate the importance of group bonding on social issues that are experienced worldwide. I look forward to working with my new colleagues at Kent to bring this to light with lasting impact for the UK.”

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